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A Click and Some Pic O’s

First, here’s a place to click for our August newsletter, in case you didn’t receive it in your email. Also, if you go to our website media section, we have all our past newsletters collected there.

Now… here’s some stuff that made me laugh, and I enjoy laughing on a Wednesday!

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And IRONMAN…

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And one of those funny family pictures!

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The Goodness of Routine

Have you dined with us before?” or how about “How was everything?”. I consider these two questions to be in the top five of worthless restaurant questions… and I cannot come up with three more.

I have noticed that no matter how I answer those restaurant questions… I get the same response. No response! So, I have taken it upon myself to try to answer in a way that causes the person asking, to at least pause.

I could answer the “Have you dined with us before” question with an answer of “Yes, 45 minutes ago” or “Yes, back in the early 50’s“. That usually gets some attention!

How was everything?” usually causes me to answer, “Great, how was I as a customer?”.

The point of those observations is that everyone gets in a routine. I know that my observations of mindless routines sound a bit sarcastic… but I do like routine.

In our injury cases, it’s easy to only look at the value of the injuries and the medical bills. But, I also think that the concept of routine… and being knocked out of routine… is also a damage.

At the end of vacation, many people say that “I am so glad to be home”. What they are really saying, is that they are glad to be back to their routine.

All said, I am a fan of routine. And, I am probably stating the obvious.  Kinda like the guy who said that a computer once beat him in chess, but the computer was no match for him in kickboxing. (OK, I just wanted to throw that in, it really has nothing to do with the blog)

Still, the next time someone at the cash register looks down at something and mumbles, “How was everything?” without looking up, I hope you will think about these thoughts on routine… and then ask them “Great… How was I as a customer?”!   It will knock them out of routine!

And for pic o’ day, giraffe routine:

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A Document Worth

What is it worth? Documents detailing some of the original “Laws of Base Ball” sold for $3.26 million on early Sunday morning, It set a new record for the highest-priced baseball document. (ESPN)  .

The same auction house in charge of this sale also noted that a 1920 New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth jersey sold in an auction for $4.4 million in 2012. That same year,  the Naismith Rules of Basketball sold for $4.3 million.

According to the ESPN article, The original rules of baseball, as written by Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, stipulated that the ball could not weigh less than 5¾ ounces, and the bat could be of any length; but no more than 2½ inches at its widest part. The rules also stated that there would be four bases, 30 yards apart, with each base being one square foot.

I always believe that auction items make for a good jury argument, when discussing an injury case. If we put such value on a document and paper, what is the worth of a permanent injury to a leg that causes a lifetime of pain, or a lifetime of worry.

What is it worth to be able to put on an outfit and feel so good… that you don’t even have to look in the mirror?  No scars or pain. Just to feel happy. Emotional value! What is the worth of not having to worry about making that next house payment? Real life values.  Just a thought!

And for pic o’ day…

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Really? Resting Comfortably?

A two-time winner on the PGA Tour, Jason Bohn made the 36-hole cut at the Honda Classic on Friday, but then reported chest pain to the tournament’s medical staff. On Sunday, it was announced (ESPN) that he had a medical procedure.

Here is what the headline stated,

Jason Bohn required stent to repair blocked artery, ‘resting comfortably’

Now, I don’t know who they are kidding. As far as I am concerned, there are two errors in that headline, based on my personal experience of being in the hospital. First, there is no rest in the hospital. They constantly take your temperature, blood pressure, and saturation breathing levels. And that’s just the start.

Just as you might start to nod off, even in the middle of the night, it seemed like they were waking me up. I was always thinking, I wonder if I could hide under the bed and get some sleep?

The second bit of nonsense in that headline is whether he was comfortable. I really don’t know anyone who has ever been in the hospital who claimed that they were comfortable… except for that brief moment or two, right after they give you pain medication.

In every jury trial, I try to discuss physical pain and mental anguish for jurors to consider. In my experience, only those who have really experienced pain can try to put a value on it. I can still hear the old song by Carly Simon, Haven’t Got Time For The Pain. (Lyrics)

One way to quantify pain is to consider what we will pay to avoid pain at the dentist. People gladly pay for Nitrous Oxide and several shots of Novocaine to avoid tooth pain. I remember asking for some of that “laughing gas” that doesn’t really make you laugh. I have heard of some people who claim that they don’t really mind dental pain. I think they are the same folks who would wear braces on their dentures. Just silly!

The flipside of physical pain is the consideration of mental anguish. I think it is really worse. Rose Kennedy was asked how she could stand all the loss in the Kennedy family. She explained that, “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens but it is never gone.”

I believe that there are wounds and injuries that never show on the body that are much greater than anything that shows up on an x-ray or bleeds. Why mental anguish is pain that is really always there just below the surface. Hard to put a value on that damage!

So, the next time that you read or hear that someone is “resting comfortably”, I hope you just shake your head. Those two words are said to make everyone else feel better… not the person who is supposedly “resting comfortably”. Just my two cents!

And our Monday Pic o’ day was sent to me after my Pothole story. It made me laugh ,and not much about a pothole and two flat tires can normally make me laugh. There’s probably a song in there somewhere that could include sticks and stones or cracks in the sidewalk!

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Sparky’s Leap

Hollywood has captured our imagination with movie ideas about people who are so smart, that they can bend spoons with their minds. As my Director of Operations likes to say during job interviews… “you can’t teach smarts”!

This is a news story from Arizona State sports department that combines injury with… someone who is clearly not bending spoons with their mind. (ESPN) First, is the visual description from Tempe City Councilman David Schapira’s posting to describe his injury:

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Shapira was on the sideline of the ASU-New Mexico game when the Arizona State mascot inexplicably ran up behind him and jumped on his back. Mascot Sparky was only about 5′-6″ and didn’t know that Shapira was still recovering from back surgery.

Shapira reported immediately feeling a pop. He rested on the sidelines a bit before being transported to the hospital. It turned out to be a pretty serious injury including torn muscle in his back. So far, Shapira has incurred $96,146 in medical bills.

At this point, there is no indication of any lawsuit, but the councilman is asking that his bills be paid. When I saw this story, it caused me to remember a few client’s who were in a car crash right after having surgery.

In those instances, I usually hear a defense or a comment from the insurance adjuster that the at-fault party should not be fully responsible for all the medical bills, because of the preexisting condition. Fortunately, the law recognizes that you take a person as you find them. Sometimes called an “egg shell head” plaintiff because they are not punished for not being able to withstand what others might be able to walk away from without injury.

And for our Monday “pic o’ day”:

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It’s in the DNA

I am not a chef and I do not like onions but I have been told the following: If you run cold water over an onion and knife when you are cutting, the water neutralizes the chemical in the onion and keeps you from crying.

Recently, I have had several clients continue working at their jobs, despite their injuries. Despite what the doctors’ reports and notes say. They had been put out of work by their doctor and still gone back to work. So, as part of their claim, they have little or no loss of wages from their crash.

It’s not unusual for defense attorneys or adjusters to question how hurt they really are, if their injuries don’t keep them from working. I understand that argument.

My response to them, or my explanation of ignoring  the doctor, is that they had to work. They had to work for money; or for failure of losing their job; or for the simple motivation of not wanting to miss time from work.

In school, there are always teachers and students who never miss time from school. No matter, they show up. I think that same attitude carries into the work life. Some just have it in their DNA to not miss time. So, it may seem strange to ignore a doctor’s “out of work” note, but I guess that’s why it happens.  Like pouring water to keep the tears away?

As you think about it, would you accept that as a juror, or think that the client should just listen to their doctor?

And since it’s the weekend blog and lots of rain could be in the forecast, here’s a Did you know? Did you know that each king in a deck of playing cards represents a king in history? Spades is King David; Clubs is Alexander the Great; Hearts is Charlemagne and Diamonds represents Julius Caesar.

And for our pic o’ day, a happy potato!

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Foul Ball and Splintered Bat

I went to my first major league baseball game when I was nine. The Baltimore Orioles played the Chicago White Sox. I sat so far up in the grandstand area that everyone on the field looked like Ant-Man.

As a typical nine-year-old, I was excited about the game… and the cotton candy and sodas… and the caramel popcorn.  All of it. However, what made a lasting impression was a towering pop fly. The third baseman settled under it and waited and waited. All of sudden, he missed it and it landed on his face.

I decided to look it up on the internet to find out who it was and if my memory was correct. I found it! I couldn’t believe that I found it. Here’s the description from hardballtimes.com.

On a relatively routine pop-up at Baltimore‘s Memorial Stadium, he (Bill Melton) lost the ball in the lights at the last moment. The ball caromed off the heel of his glove and into his face, breaking his nose. Melton was knocked unconscious for a minute or two before being taken off the field on a stretcher. “There was blood coming out of both nostrils,” Orioles first baseman Boog Powell told Jerome Holtzman, “and it was coming out of his mouth, too.”

I mean seriously, I will never forget it. Injury by baseball.

The next season, I went to another Orioles game with our church. I bought a pennant that had a picture of the entire team. I now have it framed and hanging in my workout room.

If you look closely at that framed pennant, you can see that the pointed edge is brown. That’s because during the game I had it sitting off the grandstand bench, and someone spilled some dark soda on it.  That coke spill is a part of my framed memory!

I don’t remember much about that game but I do remember that a ball was hit into the stands. Soon, a bunch of people surrounded a person.  I couldn’t see much from where I was sitting… except that again, there was injury by a baseball.

This past week, a lawsuit was filed  (NY Times) which seeks to mandate that Major League Baseball do more to protect fans from foul balls and  bats that go into the stands.

The lawsuit would require stadiums to add netting far down the first- and third-base lines.  The lead plaintiff in the case is an Oakland A’s fan who alleges that her seats were are not properly protected.

This lawsuit was filed in the Federal Court in Northern California and cites a 2014 study by Bloomberg News that reports that at least 1,750 spectators were injured annually at M.L.B. games. If the judge certifies the class, then any season-ticket holder who sits in an unprotected area along the first- and third-base lines would be part of that class. A lawsuit about injury by baseball… and splintered bat.

And for pic o’ day from Amy M, this is classic selfie!

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The Value of a Finger

During my second year of law school, I started looking for my first job at a law firm. I was hired as a law clerk at a busy Oklahoma City personal injury firm (Homsey Law Center).

Initially, I was assigned as an all-purpose clerk, which is code for duties that included going to the bank… and stacking the cokes and diet cokes in the kitchen. My office was in the storage room/closet. After they put my desk in there, it was still the storage room/closet, that now had a desk pushed against the wall. I was just excited to have a legal job.

Soon, I was assigned to the worker’s compensation section which included working for an attorney who was very long suffering with my lack of knowlege. On the first day as he was describing the laws of an Oklahoma job injury, he also showed me his hand. He did so to explain that he had lost a portion of his finger on the job when he was in college. Then, he went on to explain what he had been paid for a partial loss of a finger, and what it would mean under those existing Oklahoma worker’s compensation laws. Basically, he was explaining the value of the loss of a finger.

Over July 4th, it was reported that New York Giants defensive player Jason Pierre-Paul was injured in a fireworks accident. Soon, it was reported that the injury had caused him to have his right index finger amputated. That led everyone to wonder if it would impact his football career. That is still a question.

Prior to the injury, Pierre-Paul had been offered a franchise tag (How NFL teams can contractually control players who have not signed) one-year offer of $14.8 million dollars, because he and the Giants had been unable to agree on a long term deal. At that time, the Giants had reportedly made a contract offer of 60 million dollars over 5 years with 30 million of it guaranteed. Now, it’s being reported that the long term offer has been withdrawn and there is question about the franchise tag one-year offer.

The loss of Pierre-Paul’s index finger may have significant financial consequences to him after the report that the long term contract offer has been withdrawn. It is a reminder that a person’s loss from injury has different values because each loss has its own factors.

I regularly get asked the question, “what is my case worth?”. Sometimes I will have a person ask me, “Isn’t it true that the insurance company is supposed to pay me three times medicals?”. I have heard people say that they were going to wait to hire a lawyer because they first wanted to find out what the insurance company was going to offer for their case. The two stories above show the difference in potential claim value, even thought they both lost all or a portion of an index finger.

There are a lot of factors that determine the value of a claim. Of course, it helps to have experience and to  have handled other claims similar, as well as understanding what juries might consider in determining the value of a case at trial. What it doesn’t include is some mathematical equation for the injury, and it shouldn’t include the false hope of waiting on an adjuster to say what is fair. Just my 2 cents.

And since it’s Monday, I figured that we needed to be all business for pic o’ day!

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The Riddle of Life

Sometimes I like to start out the blog with something to test your thinking. So, here’s a riddle for you.

Dave and Carl were born the same day of the same month, of the same year. They were born to the same mother and the same father; yet, they are not twins. How is that possible? (Answer is below this blog’s pic o’ day)

Why do I start with a mental puzzle riddle? Because this is a blog about extending life. Whenever I read an article on extending life… it extends my attention span!

Gerontology is the study of aging. (Wikipedia). More specifically, researchers and doctors are studying the effects of social, psychological, cognitive and biological possibilities for extending our lifespan. It differs from Geriatrics because that is the study of the elderly and aging. Virginia Tech even has a Center for Gerontology.

Right now, researchers in this field are studying medications on animals. There are claims that some of these medications have truly extended the lives of rats by up to two years.

Millions and millions of dollars being spent to extend life, even for a little. Yet, if you were to ask a dying man how much he would pay for two more years of quality life, he would be unable to put a price tag of worth. Priceless!

Gerontologists have determined that length of life can be impacted by heredity, diet, weight, sleep and depression. It can also be impacted by trauma.

I suspect that you know where this blog is headed. So, let me put in the last piece of the puzzle.

We typically include a claim for pain or permanent injury against the graph of a person’s life expectancy. These charts utilize studies of an average life span; much like a car dealer uses the Blue Book for a fair market value of a car.

Usually, one of my closing comments at trial asks the jury to quantify the value of a permanent injury over the life expectancy of my client . Meanwhile, researchers are proving the point that extending  life has unlimited value.

I expect someday in the next few years, we will hear about drug companies seeking approval from the FDA for some kind of pill that should extend the quality  and years of life. Hopefully, this will also impact diseases that effect the mind and body.

The positive is that progress is being made. The converse to that is that a car crash can easily be shown to impact a life span just from long term pain. Many times, the real damage in a car crash that far exceeds medical bills.

One last thing. Here’s a shameless plug.  Tomorrow, we will be emailing and posting our June eBlast. I hope you will click on it and check it out. It has a picture of my mom and dad at a picnic, as well as a photo of my nieces in our new Joel Bieber sunglasses.

And for pic o’ day, a dog who will not be outdone by something small called the Grand Canyon!

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Our riddle answer: They are not twins because… they are part of triplets!!!!!

Sadness and Mental Anguish

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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