Law: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Law: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 1:36 pm

Note: This was split from another topic. Keep it civil


Now you've done Stockingful, admitting you're a lawyer. You're the one that better head for the equator. :wink:

stockingfull wrote: And the only reason the experts are permitted to state their opinion is that they theoretically would be testifying to the "single" answer which the science dictates on an issue in dispute.

Yeah, right.


Off topic, but I had the unfortunate experience of being a juror in a case where a elderly woman had hit a man with her car. Among many of the things claimed was that his carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by this single incident, guess the 30 years as a pizza maker wasn't it. :roll:

I sat in awe as this "medical expert" sat there on the stand and tried to explain how this was possible. Between the two experts they took up 50% of the time at the trial and could have just stayed home because the evidence for the accident didn't add up to what the plaintiff was claiming.

Short conclusion to the story is (and not sure why we were allowed on jury) is that many of us were well acquainted with the intersection that the accident happened at, I drove through it everyday myself for the last 15 years, plus we had a State Police accident reconstructionist on the Jury... He was able to immediately point out exactly why the testimony by the plaintiff was not the case, really didn't matter because no one believed him anyway.

Took 30 minutes of deliberation including lunch, what a waste of time and money. The only ones that benefited were the medical experts who walked away with about 4 or 5K each and the lawyers.
Last edited by Richard S. on Sat Nov 03, 2007 12:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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PostBy: stockingfull On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:22 pm

NEPAForum Admin wrote:Now you've done Stockingful, admitting you're a lawyer. You're the one that better head for the equator. :wink:


I'm used to it; nobody likes lawyers except when they're working on their case (and sometimes not even then!).

Your story reminds me of one of mine, in which we earned a fat $2,500 award after 11 days of trial in an expert-heavy injury case that we inherited (meaning the latent neurological injury our client claimed wasn't apparent when we she retained us). Our fee, for 3 years of preparation and 11 days of trial, was 1/3 of that, $833.33. But our duty -- and any lawyer's -- was to zealously represent our client within the bounds of the law. So we were stuck.

Those are the cases the public doesn't hear about -- but I guarantee that there are many more of those than the big ones for which guys like Edwards are so righteously skewered.

We better start another thread for the lawyer stories. "Stockingfull's a GD lawyer; Vent Here!" :pottytrain3:
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PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:17 pm

Stockingfull, I'll bet you are like my lawyer.. I once went to her to see about suing someone over something rather frivilous.. basicly a nusiance suit.

She was a friend as well as my lawyer. She looked me in the eye, and told me to find a different lawyer, that I could find one on TV advertising after midnight that would be glad to take my case... :lol:

I learned a lot from that, and no longer think that a law suit benifits anyone.

Greg L
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PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 5:05 pm

I think the current state of things is caused by two separate things, probably the biggest factor is the huge amount of lawyers we have. I can remember back to High School and it seemed everyone was going to be a lawyer, you have all these lawyers with no work so they have to make work. Hence you get the "have you slipped on a banana peel" commercials.

The second reason being the disproportionate influence they have on our legislative process, can't find any figures at the moment but last i read half of Congress was comprised of lawyers. Add to that they consistently make the most political contributions compared to other industries .

That figure has a disclaimer that it's compared to 80 other large industries like Automotive Industries.

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.asp?Ind=K0

My biggest pet peeve being int the trucking industry is the commercials run by one local law firm about getting hit by truck, they are well aware that nearly every trucking company is going to have a hefty policy so they target it. I don't see commercials for "have you been hit but uninsured, unemployed smuck"...
Last edited by Richard S. on Thu Nov 01, 2007 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostBy: Matthaus On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 5:11 pm

Nothing wrong with lawyers in my book. Just part of this great system of free speech and the right to sue anyone that says something you don't like. :lol: :lol:

Don't worry stockingfull we still like ya! :)
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PostBy: stockingfull On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 6:18 pm

Even before the age of media targeting and expanded lawyer advertising came upon us, specialization in law practice was well underway. The day of the corner lawyer is really pretty much gone because the breadth of the old "general practice" is just too much to keep up with. So that may be the reason that your friend referred you out, Greg; I've done likewise many times. ("Not my specialty" is also a great way to get rid of bad cases. And a perfectly appropriate way, too, because the, ahem, "specialists" may see something you don't, which will inure to the client's benefit.)

As to lobbying and the influence of lawyers on the law, why would any of us expect otherwise? It makes perfect sense that lawyers should be the ones drafting the laws, because we are trained to understand how they work. The lobbyists I worry about are the drug and insurance company guys, you know, the folks who brought us HM"No's." Oh, and the NRA and such like. (I know the last won't be popular here but, if you want the best case for gun control, just ask Rudy! :lol: )

And truck safety is a complicated area. But the basic premise isn't: Things that can do a lot of damage should have a lot of insurance. Can that bring about some nuisance litigation? Probably, but carriers can defend nuisance cases, if they choose. Uninsured and underinsured drivers (including "undocumented workers") are an even bigger problem because they cost all of us in PIP and other self-cover every day. We can't wish all these people away; we have to deal with the problem at some point in a practical way.

But I'm really not here to defend lawyers against all criticism, I just wanted to poke around a little at what struck me as the monolithic reaction to the Nobel peace prize, since I've personally seen how badly the scientific community has behaved on all sides in the last generation.
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PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 7:10 pm

stockingfull wrote: It makes perfect sense that lawyers should be the ones drafting the laws, because we are trained to understand how they work. .


But of course, you wrote them. :lol: I can't really agree with that, Cogress should be a cross setction of people representing the interests of the people. That's not to say lawyers have no place in Congress or the legislative process as whole. My concern is the huge amount of influence they have, take for example if you wanted to pass some tort reform legislation, it's like asking the fox to watch the henhous.

The lobbyists I worry about are the drug and insurance company guys, you know, the folks who brought us HM"No's." Oh, and the NRA and such like. (I know the last won't be popular here but, if you want the best case for gun control, just ask Rudy! :lol: )


I can agree with that to some point, as far as the NRA goes they express some of my views but many of the things they do i certainly do not support. Having said that I don't blame them for taking such a hard stance, give an inch and they take a mile

And truck safety is a complicated area. But the basic premise isn't: Things that can do a lot of damage should have a lot of insurance. Can that bring about some nuisance litigation? Probably, but carriers can defend nuisance cases, if they choose.


My point is if you go into one of these accident law offices and say I just got hit by a Fedex truck they are going to jump out of their seat to assist you even if the possibilty exists they aren't going to win. On the other hand if it's underinsured guy and its a rock solid case they dont' want nothing to do with it.

But I'm really not here to defend lawyers against all criticism,


Sorry to put you on the spot, don't feel you have to respond.

I don't think all lawyers are bad, just like any business you're going to have bad apples. Just seems the lawyering profession has more than their fair share.
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PostBy: LsFarm On: Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:24 pm

Hi Stockingfull. My friend and attorney was teaching me a lesson, and I took it and learned from it. Her 'referal' was tongue-in-cheek.

Basicly she was telling me to not stoop so low and to take the high road. Which I did.

Greg

Hey it's getting down to freezing for the next few nights, I think it 's about time to fire up that Yellow Flame furnace !! :lol:

Greg
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funny you should mention Fedex

PostBy: BugsyR On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 10:52 am

My point is if you go into one of these accident law offices and say I just got hit by a Fedex truck they are going to jump out of their seat to assist you even if the possibilty exists they aren't going to win. On the other hand if it's underinsured guy and its a rock solid case they dont' want nothing to do with it.


Kind of funny that you mentioned Fedex. I won't use them for anything anymore. UPS or USPS only. My daughter accidently broke my neighbor's (friend at the time) kid's nose. Behind our back they talked with their lawyer and went after our homeowner's insurance for pain and suffering. He's a FEDEX driver (over-the-road). Purely accidental. They even told their lawyer that it was a complete accident. They didn't even have the truth. They told their lawyer that their kid walked into my daughters way. When my daughter was interviewed by our insurance company she told them exactly what happened was that she was horse playing and actually swung the pole at the kid but misjudged the distance and actually hit him. Darn truthful kid!!! :P
Anyway, long story shortened...although their health insurance covered the mishap and their kid's nose is fixed and even though he was practicing for the football team later that week, they still got $13K for pain and suffering for a broken nose.
From what I found out about these people....they are experienced at using their lawyer for little homeowner's insurance things. Now I have to wait and see what happens to my premiums.
Now if my parents would have went after people for every injury I recieved as a kid...I'd probably own my own island somewhere. :wink:
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PostBy: stockingfull On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 1:36 pm

Greg, your lawyer's advice and mine were exactly the same: if a client wants to pursue a case I don't want, they should look for somebody else. Maybe, if they want it badly enough, they'll find somebody who'll do it. But they may not be happy in the end.

On the trucking liability issue, looks like today's news isn't good: rampant cheating on drug testing and innocent people dying as a result. Like it or not, that's just the kind of thing that gets whole industries in trouble. "Clean urine" for sale on the internet? We can hardly blame lawyers for that.

On the neighbor's lawsuit over the accident in the yard, it sure is a different time from when we were growing up, and that's why we all have insurance (as our parents did). But, in truth, the only people who'd trade "the good old days" for these days are those with faulty memories. Every facet of our lives is safer because of the people who've thought about the things we do and the things we make and made claims about how those things could be done better. Sure, some of the claims have been silly and far from all of them have succeeded but, whether it's drugs, or products or just the way we drive, the tort law process has resulted in the safest and highest standard of living in human history.

Blame the lawyers. :roll:
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PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:03 pm

stockingfull wrote:On the trucking liability issue, looks like today's news isn't good: rampant cheating on drug testing and innocent people dying as a result. Like it or not, that's just the kind of thing that gets whole industries in trouble. "Clean urine" for sale on the internet? We can hardly blame lawyers for that.


Still doesn't address my point, if I'm in a accident and lose my arm it doens't matter to me whether it was a truck or car. It does to the lawyers that are pursuing such cases though. Just like you have bad lawyers you also have bad trucking companies and bad drivers. I'd also suggest that drugs is the least of your worries when it comes to the trucking industry. Poor maintenance and more importantly under qualified inexperienced drivers or a combination of both is the biggest problem.
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PostBy: stockingfull On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:09 pm

Because some don't have sufficient insurance doesn't mean that others should be allowed to have less. It means that we have a regulatory and/or an enforcement problem, for all the reasons you cite, in addition to mine.
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PostBy: pvolcko On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:14 pm

What is "sufficient insurance"? I thought I had sufficient car insurance, standard 100/300 policy. I got in an accident and was sued. I didn't even find out what they were seeking until the last day of their case in court (apparently NY law purposefully keeps all mention of the sought damages off the filings and everything, preserving it for trial... insanity).

What did they want? Upwards of $1.5 million. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard their lawyer lay that one on the jury.

This case is ongoing (judge granted plantiffs a retrial, surprise surprise) so I won't go into too much detail. Suffice it to say I wasn't drunk, speeding (actually well below the speed limit), driving recklessly, distracted or anything like that. Didn't attempt to evade capture or even hide from responsibility for the accident. I even attempted to render assistance to those in the other car, until the driver laced into me with a verbal barrage as I approached.

It was just one of those things that happen that you never think will happen to you.

Was I "underinsured"? I didn't think so. My insurance carrier didn't think so either, as I'm sure they wouldn't have hesitated to sell me more insurance. And they haven't tried to sell me additional coverage since the accident.

So if one has to insure against what a lawyer might be able to talk a jury into (or what a judge allows into trial to bias against the defense), as opposed to an individual's level of risky behavior and personal assetts... Well then everyone is underinsured until they have potentially millions in insurance to cover any probable situation. The problem is, the breadth of probable situations and the frequency with which suit is brought has grown to such proportions that it has become prohibitively expensive to get the level of coverage one "should" have. And when that inevitable jackpot suit does come down the pike you go into crippling debt either paying settlement or paying judgement, and perhaps paying lawyers (if your carrier doesn't hire them for you) trying to avert either of the first two. This after going into debt paying for a house, a car, college loans, if you have kids throw on that much more.

Maybe my case is unique, but there's no reason to think it is. So, what level of insurance would have been "sufficient"? The best my lawyer has been able to answer me on that question is to get a million dollar balloon policy. Interestingly, he said this before the first trial started and even that wouldn't have insured against the judgement sought against me. I would have still been left holding the bag on $400K had the jury awarded the full amount. So maybe a $2 million policy? 3? 5? At what point is enough enough?
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PostBy: stockingfull On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 6:06 pm

Tough story, but thanks for sharing it.

Has anybody checked recently to see what medical care costs? The short answer is a whole lot more than any of us can afford. But standard liability limits haven't really gone up in a long time. That 100/300 policy that sounded like a lot 15 or 20 years ago just isn't anymore.

"Balloon," "umbrella" or "excess liability" coverage is relatively cheap, fits in neatly above our standard underlying auto and homeowners policies (that is, you only need one umbrella) and everybody should have it. You need enough insurance to protect your assets from a verdict exceeding policy limits. If you don't have assets subject to a judgment, you may not need such, or much, insurance. We should each talk to our insurance agents about what level makes sense in our situations.

Because, you're right, you never know when one of these things may happen to you.

It's also worth noting that, in the vast majority of litigated insurance cases, plaintiffs settle within insurance limits where there aren't high-value assets against which a higher judgment could be enforced. Further, there have been cases where insurers who have failed to accept a reasonable offer to settle within policy limits have been held liable to their insureds (that would be you in this instance) for any excess judgment ultimately reached. In other words, the insurance company's gamble not to settle is their risk, it shouldn't be yours.

Good luck in your case.
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PostBy: Yanche On: Fri Nov 02, 2007 8:35 pm

I got a million dollar "umbrella" policy when I was on the board of directors of several charitable and community associations. A local group of pro land development advocates didn't like our support of restrictive growth policies. They threatened to sue the organization and each member individually. Fortunately there were several corporate lawyers on the BoD that knew a bit more about the law and put the threats in perspective. I've kept my "umbrella" policy. It's cheap and gives me a sense of security, perhaps falsely.
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