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Archive for Trip and Fall

Parking Lot Lesson in Coverage

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

I enjoy a good riddle and this one is a challenge. Look at the parking lot below. What is the number of the parking space where the car is parked? (Can you hear the jeopardy theme?)

 

 

 

 

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Well… did you get it? Are you trying to do mathematical equations or dividing by the square root of an apple pie?

The answer is “87″. It’s point of view. If you look at the parking lot from the viewpoint of the driver, then you can see that the car has backed into space number 87.

     Berkshire Hathaway just announced that its insurance companies, which include Geico and General Reinsurance, reported a $38 million underwriting loss. That is compared to their last year’s $411 million gain. The negative swing was driven by higher claims at Geico and $115 million in storm losses in Australia where Berkshire insurers provide coverage.

What does it mean. Well, just like the parking place, it’s the viewpoint in how you look at things. Insurance companies receive premiums. Their profit is based on the receipt of premiums and if they have to make payment on claims… not so much profit. So, they look at claims as the enemy of profit. Point of view!

And for pic o’ day…

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Law Firm Case Work!

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

I thought I would take this Friday blog and devote it to the Law Firm. Well… maybe devote is a strong word. But, here are some things that occur during the workday on our cases:

Organization:

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Confidentiality:

 

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Investigation:

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     Traffic patterns and visibility:

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Have a great weekend!

 

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Fitbit and Garmin Discovery

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

In the world of law, discovery of evidence used to be based on basic things like measurements, photographs, witness statements and medical records. Now, it’s not unusual to have discovery include a fishing expedition with a look toward online social media.

Usually, interrogatory questions from each side include discovery of Facebook accounts and whether people have other online messaging that might include a person’s description of life. If a person says that they are hurting and can’t do very much, are they posting pictures of their bowling night? Do you see them posting their picture with a grin… as they jump on their backyard trampoline?

Well, now there’s another possible source of information that may be relevant in a claim.  The Washington Post recently reported on how technology could soon kill the art of lying. “Lies are a fact of life,” the newspaper says. “But technology may soon make them obsolete.”

According to the ABA Journal, “Data from wearable devices is being eyed as evidence in the courtroom”. Lancaster Online tells the story of one criminal case where the defense in a rape case was able to use the tracking of a Fitbit to fight the charge. A woman  said she was asleep when she awoke to find a rapist who assaulted her. The woman’s Fitbit, however, showed that the woman was awake and walking around at the time she claimed to be asleep. Just something to try and create reasonable doubt in a juror’s mind.

Insurance companies are using posted pictures, GPS exercise watches, cell phone GPS discovery and discovery of the identification of friends through social media accounts. This information might help them defend worker’s compensation claims and auto accident injury claims.

Cars now provide data to establish how fast a defendant’s car was traveling at point of impact. Truck drivers might keep two sets of log books to try and fake how long they have been driving. However, now their trucks can establish distance traveled during a specific time, and potentially the speed they travel.

Discovery can tell a story that can refute the defense. It’s part of the reason that I try to encourage people to let us get to work quickly on their claim before information is lost. Maybe try to get that security video footage that may be only available for a short period of time and then erased. On the flip side, insurance companies investigate claims quickly… while they discourage people from hiring lawyers. Pretty savvy on their part.

Still, I never thought that I would see the day when someone’s Garmin or Fitbit would be part of evidence. As one TV show used to say, “The Truth is out there”.

And for pic o’ day, here’s some “photograph discovery”:

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The Lawyer Costume

Monday, June 29th, 2015

A man looking through job listings came upon an ad for a job that was available down at the local zoo. He was told that because of funding cuts, the job required that he dress up in a monkey suit and perform in one of the cages.

All went well for several days until he was swinging from tree branch to branch and fell to the ground. He began to call out, “Help, Help!”. In the next cage over the Lion whispered, “Shut up… or we’ll both lose our jobs.”

Costumes are a funny thing. It’s someone hiding behind a disguise to be someone else. When I saw this first Ronald McDonald from 1933, I wondered why anyone would want to be this… or why McDonalds thought that this would be a fun mascot.

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I guess I probably am not a good judge of clown costumes. Not a big clown fan.  This is Willard Scott who supposedly invented Ronald McDonald. He went on to greater heights as the weatherman on The Today Show.

     Ronald  McDonald remains and I remain confused about it…  but I digress.

This brings me to the subject matter… and conclusion of the blog. A few years ago I heard a jury consultant say something about the practice of law that had a profound effect on how I now conduct myself in jury trials.

This consultant said to, “stop acting like a lawyer”. In the initial seminar speech, he basically was telling a group of lawyers to get rid of all the legalese talk and start talking like normal people talk.

Somewhere along the line, lawyers started using terms like whereas and wherefore. We started arguing why for is the word thereforetherefore!

Being real. Not putting on the costume of lawyer. Since that seminar talk, I have followed up with that speaker on some of our cases. I have read some of his books and been directed to other lawyers who speak the same language of being normal.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt left us with some good advice along the same lines.  Be sincere. Be brief. Be seated.

And for pic o’ day, I was going to post something on sincerity and then I saw this… on focus!

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Sports and Winning the Case

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

I admit it. This is a random Thursday blog ride, but we conclude with believing in the right ending!

“When I hear somebody sigh life is hard, I am tempted to ask Compared to what?” Sydney Harris

Sometimes you just have to concede,  “How can you argue with that?”

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This is the new mascot of Scotland’s Partick Thistle soccer team. Again, how can you argue with that choice of a mascot… when you don’t know what it is? The announcement of the team simply indicated that this is Kingsley and he will be attending all game days.

It looks to me that someone in their marketing department just decided that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Pretty soon, this will be an acceptable mascot. For now, it will get a lot of headlines. This is the mascot, they say, and they just move forward.

This past weekend, it was well known that the golfers at the U.S. Open were complaining about the putting greens. One of the TV announcers recited an old quote from Arnold Palmer. He basically said that when he would walk into a golf locker room and hear golfers complaining about the course, he knew that he would beat them.

In the practice of law, sometimes a lawyer may find it real easy to see all the problems in their case. In fact, if you believed the defense, the case is not worth pursuing.

(The negative life of defense)

To some extent, I combine the thoughts of the mascot and the quote of Arnold Palmer. Sometimes, you just move forward. “Assess-adapt-overcome”. There’s only one reason that you know that you will win your case. You listen to your client… and you know.

For pic o’ day, I decided to stay with  sports and random news…

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Does First Place Law Matter?

Monday, June 15th, 2015

I am enjoying the NBA basketball finals, even though they keep me up late at night. Throughout the years, I have watched a lot of sports. I am always reminded that no one remembers who came in second. Only first place matters.

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That’s why there are no foam hands for fans to hold up, with two fingers showing.

In television, stations have figured out a way to claim first, even if everyone claims to be in first.

For marketing purposes, CBS, NBC and ABC all try to market their dominance to advertisers so they can charge higher rates. CBS claims to be the nation’s most watched network. NBC reminds us that they are number one among viewers in the age bracket of 18 to 49. ABC tells us that it is first in entertainment marketing. Of course, in that claim, they do not include sports since NBC has the highly rated Sunday Night Football.

Long ago, our firm decided not to focus on titles of best, first or most. On our website, we do not discuss money. Of course, I was reminded by a sage lawyer when I first started, that large settlements or verdicts do not necessarily mean quality of representation. As he put it, “the best way to get a million dollar verdict is to try a 3 million dollar case poorly”.

I am in the midst of interviewing lawyers for positions in our Richmond and Virginia Beach offices. Usually I say to them that I am looking for applicants with good minds, who care about people. A basketball coach once said, “you can’t teach height”.

In law, you can learn how to research, organize your evidence, maybe periodically try a good case, or even try to work harder than the opposing party. It’s hard to teach mind; And more importantly, hard to teach “having heart”.

To date, I haven’t seen anyone awarding Largest Lawyers’ Heart, but I think that’s the person who I would want working with me. Lawyers who claim to be super can keep their capes at their own office. I appreciate the person who tells me a story of “why it matters”. That’s just my 2 cents on that. (well, I guess I did mention money)

And for pic o’ day, speaking of good mind and understanding instructions…

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The Law of Long Life

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

Physicians of the Roman Empire used to believe that walnuts could cure head ailments, since their shape was similar to that of a brain. In medical writings of that time, the walnut was recommended as, “if chewed and laid on as a plaster, cures gangrene, carbuncles, stye in the eye, and hair loss”.

Moving forward  to modern medicine, researchers at the National Cancer Institute gathered and pooled data about people’s exercise habits. (The study) This study included six health surveys totaling more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged.

     With this cumulative data, the researchers grouped the adults by their weekly exercise time; comparing those who did not exercise at all to adults who worked out for various amounts of weekly exercise, including 10 times the current health and exercise national recommendations or more. That category meant that the highest exercise group did more than a regular amount of weekly exercise, exercising moderately for 25 hours per week or more.

     Using the data from these groups, the researchers then compared 14 years’ worth of death records for the group. Not surprisingly, they determined that the adults who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

     Those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but at least exercising a little bit, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

     Those who met minimal recommended exercise guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise; statistically lived longer lives and a 31% less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

     Here’s the “kicker”. The blue ribbon” for best exercise benefits resulted among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise by working out moderately; mostly by walking, for  a total of 450 minutes  of exercise per week. Their reward: those adults were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who did not exercise.

     So what’s the conclusion? Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to “reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity,” says Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. And… even more exercise is better.

     Despite these statistics on exercise, it usually doesn’t impact someone to exercise. It’s the same reason that a pack of cigarettes can warn of imminent danger from smoking, while a person ignores and lights up.

     I am going to use these statistics to touch on a final point that is one of my “soapbox items”. Last week, owners of hotels in Virginia Beach came out against any offshore drilling of the shores of Virginia Beach. (Pilot Online) They are against it because they know that any drilling that causes an oil spill will end all tourism in Virginia Beach. Still, politicians continue to push offshore drilling to “create jobs”.  I guess facts can’t get in the way.

     One final note, I did perk up when the Romans suggested using walnuts to fight hair loss. Hmm!

 

And for pic o’ day:

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Sports and Jury Selection

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

It’s NBA playoff basketball time so it’s probably a bit predictable that I have managed to combine law and basketball into my Monday blog. That’s because I went to the Wizards/Hawks game on Saturday night in Washington D.C.

Here’s a picture of me at the game during the game-winning shot by Paul Pierce. Looking at this crowd and trying to search for me is like asking you to “find Waldo”.

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You can see me in the bottom left corner of the picture, standing just above the photographers in a blue jacket and blue shirt… looking ”fan crazy”. A shot at the buzzer will do that to a fan. At least that’s my excuse! I suspect that you are still having a hard time finding me! That’s the power of a crowd.

Several years ago I met an NBA referee from Virginia. He was officiating back in the 1990′s. I asked him what it was like to referee a game with Michael Jordan playing, and whether it was hard to do it. He described it as if the power of Jordan walking on the floor was much like attending an Elvis Presley, and that you couldn’t help but be impacted by it.

He hastened to add that he quickly adjusted. I guess that he didn’t want me to think that his officiating could be influenced by the cult of personality. When I look again at the screaming crowd on Saturday night, it makes me wonder how any official can avoid being influenced. I guess that’s part of home court advantage.

It reminds me of being an official of faculty basketball, as a freshman at Bob Jones University. The entire league was made up of teams from the college professors. And, the president of the university was also playing… Dr. Bob Jones III.

I remember calling one foul on him where he just stared at me after I blew the whistle and made the call. Tough times for a mere college freshman! Years later he laughed about that when I told him that story. I have to admit… I was influenced.

During my jury selection for a case trial, I try to ask questions that are intended to reveal any bias or prejudice. Sometimes I will receive an answer from a prospective juror that will reveal one of those characteristics. I have seen several potential jurors struck by defense attorneys, just because they didn’t want a juror hearing a car crash case, if that juror responded that they had previously been in a car crash. The defense attorney is sensitive to a potential bias toward my client, who was hurt in the crash.

Usually near the end of my prospective jury panel questioning, I will ask a variation of the following to the panel: “You have heard the judge describe the events of this crash and now you have some details about my client and her treatment. Based on what you heard, is there anyone who believes that they cannot be fair and impartial in this case. Perhaps something about these facts causes you to be already influenced before you have heard the case.”

I may even recite some examples of where I would be influenced. I tell them that there are just some cases that I personally could not be fair to all the parties because of the facts.  That’s because we are all subject to outside influences. However, that doesn’t always mean that such influence is a bias or prejudice. In some examples, the referee of the case— the Judge, has to make that call.

And for pic 0′ day, here’s some influence and persuasion:

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Sadness and Mental Anguish

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Huffington Post recently wrote about Dennis the Dachshund, who had ballooned up to 56 pounds. He had been on a diet of White Castle burgers and pizzas.  When a nursing student saw his condition, she talked her relative into letting her adopt Dennis.

With a new diet of dog food and a bit of exercise, Dennis dropped 44 pounds. He was now down to an appropriate size and weighing 12 pounds.

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Unfortunately, he continues to deal with his excess skin after his weight loss. In the good news department, his owner says that his personality is shining through and he no longer seems depressed.

There’s an advertising campaign for Hotels.com that makes me laugh every time. Captain Obvious states the obvious about travel and making plans. Usually in the ads, someone will tell him, “thanks, Captain Obvious”, after he has stated the obvious.

I feel, to some extent, that I am about to state the obvious. People who suffer injuries in car accidents feel down and sometimes truly depressed. They no longer can do the things that they did before. Unlike Larry the Dachshund,  this is caused by someone else not because of a diet of White Castle burgers.

When discussing damages to an adjuster or a jury, I try to focus on the damages on the inside rather than just the outside. I believe that the damage of sadness and mental anguish is greater than the damage of wearing a cast.

I’m not sure that I have always done a very good job of conveying such damages. However, I am always curious when someone suggests that “Isn’t a case worth three times medicals?”. The longer I practice, the more I realize that such loss is not a mathematical equation. In almost every case, the client will usually say along the way, “I just wish that I was back to where I used to be”. That is a better measurement of the true loss.

And for pic o’ day, I am posting a picture that was just sent to me, from a “few” years ago. It’s my parents all dressed up for Thanksgiving. Now that makes me smile!

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A Baby’s Pain

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Because of scheduling, I didn’t get to the blog yesterday morning. We did finish up the April eBlast and we will be sending and posting it shortly.

For today’s brief blog, I wanted to reference an article dealing with a baby’s pain that is relevant to our practice and also will serve as something to question doctors about in the future. From DailyMail.com comes a report that relates to what a baby feels.

Here are the highlights:

  • Young babies are more sensitive to pain than adults, according to study
  • Doctors previously assumed very young babies had high pain threshold
  • New findings by Oxford University shows newborn babies do react to pain 

 

I wish this study wasn’t true. Hopefully, it will make adjusters consider certain claims more seriously in the future, even if there is not a significant amount of medical bills.

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