Atlanta Injury Attorney Blog

In the “what were you thinking” department, the Supreme Court gave the final smackdown to a lawyer who filed a lawsuit after the 2 year statute of limitations after a bus crash against the Georgia Regional Transportation Agency. The lawyer tried to wiggle out of missing the Statute by arguing that one part of OCGA § 50–21–27(e) says that “All provisions relating to the tolling of limitations of actions, as provided elsewhere in this Code, shall apply to causes of action brought pursuant to [the GTCA].”  The lazy plaintiff’s lawyer tried to argue that the “all provisions” language meant any provision anywhere in the Georgia Code.  She argued that OCGA § 36–33–5(d)3 , a tolling provision for lawsuits against municipal corporations should apply and, because the State never responded to her ante litem notice, she argued, the Statute of Limitations was tolled and the suit could proceed.

Although the trial court bought her argument, the Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court gave it the royal beat down. You can read the case, Foster v. Georgia Regional Transportation Agency.

Because we handle car accidents as part of our daily business, we think about insurance policies and pricing often. photo_1473_20060425Most consumers, however, give little thought to their insurance needs or even which company they send their premiums to every month. I get the sense that most people pick one company (probably the one their parents have used for decades) early on in their driving years and stick with that company for many years. However, a new push from a consumer advocacy group suggests that being loyal to one insurance company is likely not the best strategy to get the best bang for your buck.

Earlier this week, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) publicly announced its position in support of a ban on an insurance pricing tactic known as “price optimization.” This pricing strategy looks at data designed to measure a customer’s loyalty to a particular insurance company and whether that customer is likely to stay with the same insurer, even if being charged more. According to CFA, the result of this data mining has allowed insurance companies to charge long-time customers higher rates because they know they can get away with it. Meanwhile, customers deemed more likely to shop around are given a better deal. It seems as though loyalty doesn’t always pay.

CFA’s position is that this price optimization is inherently unfair to consumers and should be prohibited. According to the group’s statement, “the purpose of price optimization is to extract as much profit as possible from policyholders who are often required to purchase insurance policies.”

So far, ten states have banned the practice. Unfortunately for Georgians, CFA told the AJC that repeated calls to Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner’s Office to take action have led nowhere. This comes in the face on another report from the AJC that Georgia tops the national rankings for price increases in the price of auto insurance. Clearly, Georgia consumers would be well-served by shopping around and comparing rates to make sure their loyalty isn’t hurting them.

Speed Cameras: Coming to a Road Near You?

Last week, detailed research from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety demonstrated a new program aimed at saving thousands of American lives each year. The idea is simple- end speeding on our roads. Speed is a factor in over 50% of all fatal crash reports. Curtail speeding, and you reduce the likelihood of a deadly crash.

The program presented in this research concerned a system of portable, automated speed cameras.  These cameras have been utilized in Montgomery County, Maryland since 2007.  Since their implementation, the cameras have been credited with reducing the urge to drive 10mph above the posted speed limit by 59% when compared with counties not using these same devices.  The study concludes that if these cameras were introduced nationwide, more than 21,000 deaths or catastrophic injuries could be prevented.

In Montgomery County, many of cameras were moved frequently along the most well-traveled corridors to keep drivers guessing about where they could be caught going a little too fast.  This study has shown that automated speeding enforcement can be an extremely effective deterrent to speeding.  In fact, 76% of the drivers surveyed admitted that the cameras had forced them to slow down.

Predictably, though, the study has brought out its fair share of detractors.  Some say the cameras are only being used to boost revenue and have little to do with safety.  Others may think it’s a little too much “Big Brother” watching their driving.  Indeed, twelve state legislatures have already voted to ban the use of speed cameras.

Still, this study’s findings are hard to ignore, and it’s time we all took a look at these cameras as a serious tool in the fight to increase safety on our roads.  To date, only 138 jurisdictions in the United States have employed these cameras, but we can hope that many more will be on board in the wake of this new data.

How to Start Your Own

Law Firm

small s

Chris Simon

The Simon Law Firm, PC

Should I Open a Law Firm?

  1. Where will you get clients from?
  2. Are you experienced enough to properly serve them?
  3. Fill out a financial plan and figure out how much it will cost you to a) get started and b) operate monthly (your “nut”)
  4. Courtesy of the ABA expenses
  5. What are you going to bill an hour? How many hours must you bill to be able to meet the monthly nut? How many months can you last on just that. What is your burn rate? What will it take to become profitable?
  6. Here is a more detailed budget:




Can you make it work? If yes, proceed.

Form a Corporation 

I suggest you go for a Professional S Corporation unless you are joining up with another lawyer and then go with the LLC.

  1. Just go to the Secretary of State website and open an account.
  2. Reserve your company name. Be sure to read the Bar Rules on naming your firm.
  3. The SOS will approve the name and then you just follow the on screen instructions. It’s very easy.
  4. File with the Fed for an EIN.
  5. File with the State for a taxpayer ID number:
  6. Congratulations, you are legal.


The Computer


Macs are cute but you are going to run into software headaches if you insist on them. Get a Lenovo touch screen Yoga laptop if you can afford it. Quick bootup, touchscreen. Good battery life. $1,000.






Buy it, it’s cheap, wireless and reliably does everything you need.

Brother® Wireless Laser All-In-One Printer, Scanner, Copier, Fax, MFCL2700DW





Malpractice Insurance

First year is cheap and it escalates every year for five years and then plateaus.  I have 3 lawyers, $1,000,000 in coverage and a $10,000 deductible for just under $7,000. Do not be afraid to shop around. It is cheap in year one. First read this article:


Jeff Tracy

Mainstreet Lawyers Insurance

(800) 817-6333



          ProAssurance (LawyerCare ®)
Karen Blohm
2600 Professionals Drive
Okemos, MI 48864
PH: 517-347-6221
Toll Free: 800-292-1036




Small Firm Contact (1-34 attorneys)

Maryanne Brenna

125 Broad St.

New York, NY 10004

PH: 212-440-7416


Other insurance

  • Auto: Make sure your car insurance policy will cover you if you are driving for work. Call them and ask. Pretty easy to add your company as an insured.
  • Workers Comp Insurance and other business insurance.


Victor M. Hamby, CIC

Hamby & Aloisio, Inc.

53 Perimeter Center East

Suite 400

Atlanta, GA 30346


770-551-3289 Fax


Phone Systems


If you are a true solo, a cell phone or two will do the trick. Much cheaper than a land line. It also lets you write off your cell phone bill. If you want to build correctly from the start and don’t mind a small cost, the best option is RingCentral. For $40.00 per month, per line and a $250.00 charge for the ownership of the fancy phone, you will have an expandable, professional phone system that can forward calls, choose relaxing elevator music or a promo for your own firm etc. It grows with you and some models run on wifi! Think how happy the folks at Starbucks will be with your “office” fully established in their store. The key thing to do is test the internet connection of the place where you will be working so there is no voice chop.



A Logo


Go with the $299 package and be sure to upload examples of what you want to give them guidance.





There is almost no way your website is going to capture business for you in year one unless; 1) you live in east bumble, 2) you are willing to spend $50,000 a year. So, what you want to do in year one is build a foundation to grow on and make sure your website is findable as a verifier of credibility for someone who has already located you and is considering your services.

worpressis the bomb. It’s $99 dollars a year and you can register your own domain name. Get a .com, don’t be unprofessional. There are tons of free online training courses on how to use WordPress and it is very easy to learn. In year one, you can have an attractive, functional site that will read well with Google.


If you just don’t want to do it yourself, then expect to pay $4500.00 for site design and around $4500 a year thereafter.

I usejustia

and would suggest you give them a hard look if that is your price point. You can spend more and get a fancier product, but remember the goal here is getting started with a foundation you can grow with.


Business Cards    bone






Are you more playful?moo





Are you more business like?overnight



Are you a traditionalist who likes to spend a dollar a card and actually knows what a letterpress is?crane


The Office 


Do you need to have one? Not really. Do you need a place to get mail, meet clients and take depositions; eventually yes. There are a number of emerging options including Regus office suites. Windowless units run around $800 a month including one wifi user. Windows will cost over $1,200 a month in most places. The kicker is renting the conference room is around $70.00 an hour and expanding with staff is expensive. The plus side is there is a receptionist, it’s always clean and professional and you have your mail handled pretty well.



Another option is based on the hive office concept.


has two locations in Atlanta; Ponce City Market and in Midtown. Offices start at around $950 a month, with no long term commitment.




Our legal hive: 2860 Piedmont Road Atlanta GA 303052860




Finally there is the classic sublease with other lawyers. This one tends to cost more in rent but it can be the most beneficial for three reasons:

  1. You have a vast human library to bounce legal questions off of an someone else’s paralegal to ask how efile works.
  2. You may get cases from the more senior lawyers in the office.
  3. Having other lawyers around is generally good for your morale.

Answering Services


Don’t be cheap. Get an answering service that will professionally answer the phone every time, 5 days a week. When you grow, you can adjust the system. Ruby is the best I have found.






Computer Systems

You must have 5 basic systems to operate as a lawyer these days. 


You should run your firm’s email through Google apps. It runs it from your domain name, is infinitely expandable and cheap and includes document storage on Google Drive.


Word Processing

office and googs

Either teach yourself to work for free on Google Docs or get a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.





Document Storage

storageGoogle Drive and Dropbox are the major players. Dropbox looks more like windows explorer, both put your whole office on your phone, Google Drive will auto OCR any document you scan.



Case Management Software

What gets measured gets managed.

The decision here is largely based on what kind of practice you will be running.

Billing clients?


$65-72 dollars a month subscription, in the cloud.




rocket$65 per month subscription per user.




For Personal Injury and Workers Compensation Only

cocoA product near and dear to my heart, as I helped develop it and am an investor and a user:

$79 per month per user. In the cloud and integrated with Google or Outlook. Based on Salesforce.





Also look at:



Legal Research

Westlaw is great, but it is expensive as hell. Learn to use Fastcase. It comes free with your bar membership. Logon at the Georgia Bar website.


Scan everything. Shred everything but pleadings and medical records or evidence. Buy this:





Mail  stamps



Banking and a Line of Credit

Go sit down with a private banker that has experience working with law firms. Suntrust has a special division. I chose to work with Brand Bank.

They will help you set up:

  1. Your IOLTA trust account
  2. Your check scanner
  3. A system for accepting credit cards. Consider Square.

Unless you are wealthy or have saved up, it’s smart to get a line of credit to get started. I got a $25,000 line with Brand Bank at 7%. You may never need it, but it helps you sleep at night. Big banks offer services to lawyers, but I like the personal touch of having a banker on call. All checks get scanned in. I have not gone to the bank once in 6 years.

Accounting and Bookkeeping

Get Quickbooks and find a reliable bookkeeper. You have to pay quarterly taxes. In year one, it is hard to guess so unless you will kill it out of the gate, accept that you will pay some late fees. Payroll is a whole other bag of problems so let’s assume you have not employees. Once you get them, see if the bookkeeper can handle payroll. I hate payroll and taxes as I have paid many a penalty over the years.

What Will Your Practice Look Like?

What you don’t do determines what you can do.

Get very good at saying “no.”

Apply the Pareto Principal to ever case you look at it. 80% of your profit will come from 20% of your cases. Focus on those cases and clients. Every six months, take note of the worst 20% of your cases from the perspective of profit versus time and consider headache factors. Then consider never taking that kind of client again. As your practice grows, you can be choosier. Act on it.

The Practice of Law

If you are going to be a civil litigator, you have to know the Civil Practice Act backwards and forwards. You must understand what makes a case vulnerable to Motions for Summary Judgment. You should attend as many Motions calendars as you can; they are free.

Read appellate opinions and buy old copies of Hornbooks on Amazon if you cannot afford the new ones.

The only way to be a great lawyer is to simply prepare better than everyone else. Start a hornbook of your own where you write down cases or principles that you think are important.

Finally, be honest to a fault and put the deserving clients first. Get burned and do not burn people. It will pay off in the end. I have watched many an aggressive lawyer flame out as their peers learn their nature. It’s the only way to practice.

The Business of Law

This is a day by itself, so read these books and then we can talk.

The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

No B.S. Ruthless Management of People & Profits by Dan Kennedy

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy

Further Consideration:

This is a good visual mindmap of some of the considerations:



A recent op-ed in the New York Times has highlighted a problem trial lawyers and our clients have known for years- major reforms and updated regulation are needed in our nation’s trucking industry. According to this article, more people will die in 2015 from traffic wrecks involving large trucks than in all of the domestic commercial airline crashes over the past 45 years- an alarming statistic, especially when you stop to consider just how much emphasis is placed on airline safety when compared to tractor-trailers and other large trucks.

Congress has consistently resisted tougher restrictions on trucking companies, even in the face of disturbing data- (1) the death toll in truck crashes rose 17 percent from 2009 to 2013; (2) fatalities in truck crashes have risen four years in a row, reaching 3,964 in 2013; and (3) the CDC has estimated the cost of truck and bus crashes to have a $99 billion impact on the economy.

Furthermore, while trucks accounted for less than 10 percent of total miles traveled during 2013, the N.T.S.B. recently reported that they were involved in one in eight of all fatal accidents.

The trucking industry’s lobby insists that it needs longer work weeks for its drivers and bigger vehicles so that fewer trucks will be present on our roads. The trucking industry also bases its opposition to safety-rule changes on money, saying that increasing costs will hurt profits and raise rates for shippers and, ultimately, consumers. Higher safety standards and shorter work weeks may increase freight costs to some degree, but some of those standards would also save carriers money in the long run through lower insurance rates and fewer damage claims. To say that improvements in safety regulations would cause the $700 billion industry to take a huge hit seems a little disingenuous when compared to the benefits of ensuring the safety of drivers on our roads.

Of course, the trucking industry is crucial to our economic well-being, but Congress must act to make it clear that safety has to be the higher priority. If you have any doubt ask Tracey Morgan what he thinks about exhausted truck drivers. The driver who seriously injured him and killed his good friend had driven 800 miles from Georgia to START his trip in New England. He had been awake for over 20 hours at the time of the crash. 

photo_32123_20140611The scope of police authority in interactions with citizens has been a commonly discussed topic in media coverage in recent months. Although at the forefront of the modern discussion, the use of force is not a novel concept in the law. Indeed, law enforcement use of force is among the more commonly litigated issues in both state and federal court, and as many lawyers know, officers have some immunity from suit. This immunity, official immunity, is an affirmative defense, and the scope of the immunity is almost invariably at issue in cases brought against law enforcement. As demonstrated in the Georgia Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Vidal v. Leavell, the scope of official immunity is quite broad under Georgia law, a reality for which potential litigants should be prepared.

The facts at issue in Vidal occurred on April 23, 2011. On that day, the plaintiff in this case was at an IHOP in Buckhead with a friend. Shortly after being seated, the plaintiff noticed that the defendant in this case, an off-duty police officer hired by IHOP to provide security, approached a booth occupied by a group of young women. The plaintiff said she could not hear what words were being exchanged between the officer and the women but that she did see the officer force himself into the booth and push two of the women into the wall. The officer was attempting to arrest the patrons in the booth, and the plaintiff began to videotape the incident because she believed the officer was acting too aggressively. Another officer arrived and apparently engaged the defendant to halt his interaction with the patrons. The plaintiff testified that she touched the officer so that he would realize she was recording him. The officer then slapped the plaintiff, and the video shows that the plaintiff then took retaliatory swings at the officer. While the second officer held her arms back, the officer punched the plaintiff in the head and then threw her to the floor, dragged her to the door, and handcuffed her. The plaintiff was arrested for obstruction and assault. Other patrons at the IHOP videotaped the incident.

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By now, almost everyone in a major American city has either heard of or taken advantage of Uber, the popular, highly efficient, low-cost alternative to traditional taxi cabs and car services. Now, this kind of technology is making its way into the trucking industry, with the goal of improving efficiency for a huge segment of the economy that relies on trucks to haul a majority of our freight from coast to coast.

These Uber-like apps would connect manufacturers and shippers of goods with a trucker nearby who is heading to the intended destination. Truck drivers will be happy because they can get additional freight that they would not otherwise have been able to acquire on an on-the-fly basis, and the shipper gets a better deal because they can ship goods on an on-demand basis. Much like Uber, payment is transferred swiftly between the two parties.

A recent study found that by 2025, $26.4 billion of all truck freight movement will come from mobile app freight brokering. The growth potential here is astounding, and some established companies like Volvo and UPS have begun investing in this sector. Many hope that this technology can also attract younger truck drivers to an industry that is facing a serious shortage of available truck drivers in the years ahead as many aging drivers near retirement age.

While the projected productivity gains are projected to be enormous, we can’t overlook the same kinds of concerns that have plagued Uber. Who is going to be responsible for the track record of the fleet? How are the drivers going to be monitored? How is this activity going to be insured in the event of an accident? Who’s going to regulate the type of freight to be hauled over our roadways? All of these issues will present significant challenges for attorneys in the next 5-10 years and beyond.

Last week, Google revealed the news that one of its much anticipated self-driving cars was involved in a car wreck with injuries for the very first time. Certainly, this wasn’t the first time one of Google’s prototypes had been in a collision, but this was the first such crash that left passengers walking away with complaints of pain.photo_5961_20080516

This particular crash occurred when a Lexus SVU made over with all of Google’s technology was rear-ended in Mountain View, CA. The three Google employees inside all complained of whiplash injuries. The car’s sensors showed that the Lexus was traveling at about 15mph in self-driving mode behind two other vehicles when it had to slow for traffic further ahead on the road. The vehicle behind the Lexus then struck the rear bumper traveling at approximately 17mph.

According to Google, this was only the 14th wreck in six years of testing involving its self-driving cars and that none of its own vehicles have ever caused any of these crashes. 11 of these 14 crashes involved rear-end collisions similar to this latest incident. Clearly, the problem with these kinds of collision is distracted or inattentive driving- something a Google self-driving car can’t control when it’s coming from other vehicles on the road.

While these statistics are impressive, the day is coming when self-driving cars are going to be all over the road, and when that happens, these lofty numbers are going to take a hit. Not only will these autonomous vehicles have to account for the poor driving of others on the road, but they will have to make calculated driving maneuvers on the fly that may cause crashes themselves. It is only a matter of time before Google gets tagged with a claim when one of its cars makes an incorrect calculation that leads to a serious injury. This first injury crash is merely a harbinger of things to come.

photo_35516_20150116Few cases ever advance far enough to be presented to a jury for consideration. However, when there is a trial, the propriety of interactions between the court, the parties, and the jury are of prime importance. Indeed, the integrity of the judicial process depends on both the court and the parties not unduly influencing the jury’s determination, and even the appearance of a misdeed can lead to a new trial. In a recent decision, Phillips v. Harmon, the Supreme Court of Georgia dealt with such a case of possible misconduct and ordered that there be a new trial held.

The facts underlying this case are incredibly unfortunate. The suit was brought by an infant, by and through his mother, and by the mother herself in an individual capacity. The plaintiffs alleged that as a result of the negligence of the defendants the infant suffered severe oxygen deprivation shortly before his birth. Consequently, the child suffers from  permanent neurological problems, which include spastic quadriplegia, blindness, and an inability to speak. The case eventually progressed to a trial before a jury that returned a verdict for the defendants after a day and a half of deliberations. Following the jury’s verdict, the plaintiffs moved for a new trial, asserting that the trial court erred in both communicating with the jury in the absence of the parties and their attorneys and for not including a spoliation instruction in the jury instructions. Specifically, the trial court had responded to a note from the jury that was sent during deliberations without telling the parties or counsel that there had been a communication. The case was reassigned to a different judge, who denied the motion, and the plaintiff thereafter appealed to the Georgia Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals determined that there needed to be a new trial and vacated the jury verdict. The defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

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New and improving technology in our vehicles has led to all kinds of upgrades in terms of driving safety- blind spot warning systems, automatic braking with radar detection, updated airbag systems, to name a few. Not all new technology, however, has been beneficial or as accepted in this regard. In particular, the new trend among auto manufacturers involving the implementation of large, tablet-like dashboard displays in almost all new vehicles has been the source of controversy over vehicle safety and the responsible use of technology while driving.

Car companies suggest that these oversized dash displays, which often times behave more like smart phones than the traditional dashboard, are actually safer than the design of older cars due to features like integrated voice controls that keep the driver’s hands on the wheel or the large touch screens for tasks like navigation that are easier to manage than trying to fumble with a smartphone (not to mention the fact that these kinds of new features will almost certain boost manufacturer revenue). But the questions remain- how much technology is too much in our cars? How connected should drivers be out on the road? Do we really want drivers or passengers checking social media posts or uploading photos while navigating rush hour traffic?

The dangers of texting and driving are all too familiar to personal injury lawyers who see the devastating effects technology can have when drivers aren’t devoting their full attention to the roadway. These large dashboard displays are just the newest distraction coming to our cars, and we’re sure to see an uptick in the number of wrecks caused by this technology as it becomes more and more commonplace. Unfortunately, our lawmakers are generally slow to adapt the law to changes in technology, so regulation over the use of these kinds of systems will likely be a topic of debate for years to come.