Articles Posted in Personal Injury

We added on the Miller & Zois website the internal list that our lawyers keep of arbitrators and mediators in Maryland who we believe mediate or arbitrate personal injury cases.

As we make clear, this is not a list of our recommended mediators or arbitrators, just a collection of those that are doing the work. We refer to the list if arbitrating or mediating a case so it occurred to me that others might want to have the same option, be it another personal injury lawyer or even an insurance company.

The Maryland Daily Record reports that the Maryland Court of Appeals will hear a challenge to Maryland’s statutory cap on non-economic damages involving a lead paint case in Baltimore City.

I think it is interesting the Maryland high court granted cert in this case. I’m not optimistic. But boy would the landscape flip here if the Maryland Court of Appeals agrees these caps are unjust under Maryland’s Constitution.

On John Bratt’s Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog, he publishes a comment written by an opposing lawyer -State Farm in-house counsel – about a case they tried that John blogged about last month.

I think this post underscores the problem: State Farm lawyers believe they are beating us in lawsuits when we are getting jury verdicts far in excess of the offers in this case. Maybe they are. But if we get a verdict that is 8 times the State Farm offer and State Farm’s lawyers think they won, what exactly does that say about the fairness of their offer?

Overlawyered has a blog post today about the reports of a high school pitcher suing his school district because he wore out his arm throwing 140 pitches in a single game. Here is the gist of the story from the Seattle Times: Seven years ago, Plaintiff was pitching against a rival school. He had no plans to take himself out of the game. In the eighth inning his mother, assuming you believe her story, told coach, “He’s at 117 pitches. He’s done.” (How many mothers out there are keeping exact pitch counts?) You know the rest of the story. The Plaintiff hurts his arm. He thinks he was the next coming of Roger Clemens… better make that Greg Maddux… and files suit claiming the coach should have pulled him out of the game.

Overlawyered and the Maryland Lawyer Blog agree that the possibility of a lawsuit causes people to act differently than they otherwise would. Where we disagree is whether, on balance, this is a good thing for society. For example, football coaches now know that depriving kids of water during practice is a bad thing and their doing so may expose the school to liability. In this area I think coaches already have proper incentive to do the right thing and this will only serve to exaggerate the risk of a “pitch count” lawsuit. Even if this is what I believe is the first lawsuit of its kind in this country. Obviously every baseball coach around the country is going to be talking about this and many are going to become worried about pitch counts.

Awareness of valid lawsuits properly encourages people (including doctors) to proceed with caution and to consider the risks that may cause harm. Frivolous lawsuits like this one have the opposite effect and are going to have some coaches – a small minority but still some – overreacting and limiting kids to ridiculously low pitch counts. But just as free speech requires us to tolerate hate speech, the search for justice requires us to tolerate some level of frivolous lawsuits. Whatever inertia this country has towards tort reform, it comes in no small measure from mainstream media and Internet reports (many of which are simply false) of ridiculous lawsuits.

The legislation is pending in West Virginia that would prohibit lawyers from seeking damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases in plaintiffs’ complaint. This bill is receiving universal support from everyone in West Virginia. It passed unanimously in both the West Virginia House and Senate. West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin received the bill last week, and it has received the support from both plaintiffs’ lawyers and defense lawyers alike. West Virginia already has a similar law in medical malpractice cases.

In the Maryland Daily Record last week, I read an article about police brutality or false arrest case (I can’t remember which) in Baltimore. The plaintiffs sued the state of Maryland for $115 million. So, of course, the $115 million was in the article’s title. This is the exact problem that would be eliminated.

In the vast majority of personal injury cases, injury victims will be better off hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle their claim, particularly in serious injury cases. But many people for a variety of reasons – most of them foolish – will choose to handle their own claims. Accordingly, I have drafted a list of things that are a good idea to do or not do if you are trying to handle your own personal injury case. You can find these tips on handling your own personal injury case on our Miller & Zois website.

Why do this? Because people will handle their own claims so I think personal injury lawyers should try to arm these people with a few weapons to get the best outcome. Not only will it help them, but it will help our clients as well because awful settlements are thrown into the pool of data to determine fair value in personal injury cases.

The problem with these tips is that they are not legal advice because legal advice is narrowly tailored to the specific facts of a particular case. So in a small minority of personal injury cases, following these tips will hurt, not help your case, because of specific facts that fall outside the general rule.

The battle continues to wage between Allstate and the state of Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. The problem arose when the Regulation Office began investigating Allstate’s property insurance practices in Florida. Allstate had requested a double-digit increase in the rates for its homeowner’s insurance, and Florida was investigating collusion between Allstate and risk-modeling firms, rating agencies, and re-insurers to set prices at artificially high levels. When Allstate failed to submit all the documents Florida had demanded as part of its investigation, the Florida Insurance Commissioner, Kevin McCarty, suspended the rights of 10 of Allstate’s companies to do business in Florida. A Florida appeals court has lifted the ban. But I don’t think the state of Florida is done with Allstate.

When insurance companies flash this kind of arrogance to personal injury lawyers, the general public, judges, and state regulatory agencies, not surprisingly, often yawn. But when you flout the authority of an entire state, folks will take notice. In response to Florida’s subpoena, Allstate has filed 122 objections. Word to the wise: state agencies are not used to being treated with such disdain.

Florida is not the only place where Allstate is under scrutiny. When a Missouri judge ordered Allstate to turn over similar documents to those sought in Florida, Allstate once again ignored the state and has evaded the Missouri court’s contempt order for four months. Allstate scoffs at the $25,000.00 a day fine imposed by the judge and continues to withhold the requested documents.

According to a recent Jury Verdict Research analysis, based on plaintiffs’ verdicts nationally over the last ten years, the overall median award for foot injuries is $98,583. Multiple fractures to the same foot increase the median to $144,000. In foot injury cases where both feet are fractured, the median rises to $296,940. In another Jury Verdict Research study back in October, it found that 39% of the foot injuries cases that go to verdict involved auto, truck, or motorcycle accidents. In fact, a full 11% of these injuries were in motorcycle accident cases. This is incredibly high given the number of driver miles on a motorcycle versus the number logged in cars and trucks. Then again, your risk of dying in a motor vehicle accident 28 times more likely if you are riding a sports bike than if you are enjoying the comforts of a car or truck. (The lesson, as always: don’t ride a motorcycle.)

Overall, according to a 2010 study, the average (as opposed to the median) foot injury award was $703,703. Thirteen percent of foot injury awards were in excess of $1 million.

Our law firm has successfully handled scores of serious foot and ankle injury accident cases. If you want someone who knows this injury and will fight for you, call 800-553-8082 or get a free Internet consultation.

Foot and ankle injury cases command quality verdicts because foot injuries are difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. The foot is composed of 26 “major” bones that are important to mobility and hard to repair. When you add the fact that there are 56 ligaments and 38 muscles in each foot and there are four distinct ranges of motion in the foot, there is a lot that can and does go wrong for people who suffer a foot injury from trauma.

We handle accident and medical malpractice cases not only in Maryland but throughout the United States, achieving victories by settlement and at trial.

If you have suffered a serious foot injury as the result of the negligence of someone else, call 800-553-8082 or click here for a free consultation.

According to a Jury Verdict Research study that came out this week looking at jury verdicts from 2000 to 2006, Oklahoma would at first glance appear to be an awful place for lawyers to try personal injury cases. The median compensation award in Oklahoma trials is $6,824 and plaintiffs receive a recovery in only 43% of personal injury cases that go to a jury. Compared to the national data, these figures are awful.

If you are an Oklahoma personal injury lawyer with a seriously injured client, does this mean you do not have a fair chance of getting a fair and meaningful recovery for your client’s injuries? I don’t think so. A full 10% of verdicts in personal injury cases in Oklahoma were for $500,000 or more. While to some extent this is comparing apples to oranges, only in 1% of motor vehicle accident cases in Maryland does the jury award more than $500,000.

This number of significant jury awards leads me to believe that Oklahoma juries might not award significant damages in soft tissue injury cases or other cases where the harm may be less significant, but they will often give fair compensation to the people that really need it the most: people whose lives have been forever changed because of the negligence of someone else.

A former claims adjuster supervisor at Allstate Insurance testified in a first-party bad faith case in Kentucky that Allstate strong-armed injury victims and bullied them into taking less than the fair value for their personal injury cases. According to the former Allstate manager, the company changed its paradigm in 1995 and created a “dehumanizing process” where the only goal was maximizing profits.

The former Allstate employee made a few other claims of note. First, if Colossus, the computer program that evaluates the value of personal injury claims, came out with a value not to Allstate’s liking, the adjusters would manipulate the data so it produces a lower figure. The adjusters who paid out too much were punished in their evaluations. This adjuster also testified, as I have written about in the past, that Allstate keeps track of which plaintiff personal injury lawyers will go to trial and who settles for the best possible offer.

I’m sure these allegations are true. But Allstate is hardly the only insurance company that puts profits first and tries to pay as little as possible, nor is it the most egregious practitioner of this art. Insurance companies by their inherent nature are good at accepting premiums and bad at playing claims. Bobby Kennedy, one of my idols, said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and say why not?” When it comes to insurance companies,