Fair question. It’s the one I would ask if I were looking for an attorney. I have almost twenty-nine (29) years experience in the preparation and trial of injury-related cases. I have tried to a conclusion more than two hundred (200) cases involving every type of injury you can imagine and some you probably couldn’t. I confine my practice to serious injury and wrongful death cases. I don’t handle divorce cases, criminal cases or real estate closings. I focus only on serious personal injury and wrongful death cases. If you call my office, I will discuss your case with you. If you hire me, I will be the only attorney you deal with. If your case goes to trial, I will be the attorney standing beside you when you walk into the courtroom. I will personally investigate every aspect of your case and personally prepare it for trial. I will be the attorney who tries your case to a jury verdict. Lastly, and most importantly, I am good at what I do.
I will share with you four (4) of the cases resolved by my office and you draw your own conclusions:
Marvin, a construction worker and part-time musician, was driving his pickup truck back to work from lunch. As he approached an intersection, a big rental truck pulled out of a service station and directly in front of him. Marvin slammed on the brakes but could not stop and broadsided the truck. He was knocked unconscious and awoke in the back of an ambulance with an excruciating pain in his right leg and hip. The pain was so intense, Marvin passed out again and the next time he awoke was in the emergency room of Emory University Hospital. Marvin’s femur, the big bone in his thigh, was shattered in multiple pieces and would require rods, plates, and screws to be repaired. The surgery went well; however, the doctors told Marvin his hip had been damaged so extensively that eventually it would need to be replaced.
Marvin remained hospitalized and heavily sedated. About three days after his surgery, while watching television, he saw an advertisement for a personal injury lawyer who promised to “solve all of his problems with a single call”. Never having been involved in this type of situation, and not knowing who to call, Marvin called the television lawyer. When he called, the television lawyer wasn’t available but Marvin spoke with one of his assistants. That same day, the assistant came to Marvin’s hospital room and Marvin signed a retainer agreement promising to pay him a percentage of whatever was recovered. Two days later, the assistant returned to Marvin’s hospital room and told him that the rental truck which caused his wreck had only $25,000.00 in liability insurance coverage. The television lawyer’s assistant recommended Marvin settle the case and, after payment of attorney’s fees, he would receive $16,667.00 which he could use toward payment of his hospital bills or for living expenses. The assistant told Marvin $25,000.00 was all he could get and it would be better for him to take it now than wait until later. Marvin told him he wanted to think about it and would get back with him the next day. Fortunately for Marvin, one of his friends visited him in the hospital that night. When Marvin shared with her the assistant’s recommendation he settle the case she suggested he call me, since I had represented one of her friends in a similar situation. She told Marvin he could trust me to give him an honest opinion.
Marvin called me the next day and discussed the facts of his case. I told him I didn’t think he should settle the case unless and until all the facts were properly investigated. I told him I believed I could help him achieve a better recovery but, that if I could not, I would not charge him a fee. Marvin contacted the television lawyer’s office and told them he was going to another lawyer for a second opinion and that he would not settle the case. Unbelievably, the television lawyer threatened to file a lien against Marvin’s case for $8,333.00, his “fee” for helping to negotiate a $25,000.00 settlement. When Marvin shared this with me, I told him I would take care of the television lawyer and his assistant. I also told him to not worry about his case from that point on and to concentrate on getting better. I told him I would be able to discuss the case with him two weeks later when he was due to be discharged from the hospital.
Over the next two weeks, I obtained a copy of the police report generated by Marvin’s wreck. The report listed the name and address of the truck driver who caused the wreck, and, more importantly, the company for which the truck driver worked. I called the truck driver, identified myself and asked if he would talk to me about the wreck. He first wanted to know how Marvin was doing and wanted me to apologize for him to Marvin for causing the wreck. He felt terrible about it and agreed it was 100% his fault. I promised to convey his apology to Marvin and shared with him Marvin’s condition. I then asked the truck driver one simple question: “Was there any additional insurance coverage on the truck?” The driver informed me he had purchased an additional liability policy for $500,000.00 two days before the wreck occurred. I thanked him for the information and told him that suit would be filed against him so that Marvin could collect sufficient funds to pay for his surgery, lost time from work and his eventual hip replacement. I also assured him we would not be trying to recover any of his personal assets, only the money from the insurance coverage.
Suit was filed and, after approximately twelve months of litigation, the truck driver’s insurance carrier requested the case be mediated. All the parties met and discussed Marvin’s injury, the effect it would have on his life, the expenses he had incurred through that time and the expense he would incur when his hip was replaced. The case was not settled that day; however, after approximately two weeks, the truck driver’s insurance carrier agreed to pay Marvin $300,000.00. Marvin recovered twelve times as much as the television lawyer’s assistant promised him because I was willing to take the time necessary to do a thorough job.
Annie’s parents came to me with the following facts: 11 year old Annie and several of her friends played together every day after school. Their favorite activity was sliding down a steep hill at the front of their subdivision while inside cardboard boxes. On any given day, ten or twelve of them would be involved. One afternoon, several weeks before as Annie and her friends were playing, her box slid to the bottom of the hill and stopped partially in the main road leading into their subdivision. The driver of a landscape truck traveling down the road slammed into the box causing Annie to suffer a severe head and brain injury. Annie was air-lifted to a children’s hospital where she would remain for several months.
At least two law firms had reviewed the case and refused to take it, saying it could not be won. I agreed to review the case.
I drove to the subdivision to get an idea of the location where this incident occurred and to try and understand what would have been visible to the landscape truck driver as he drove down the main street of Annie’s subdivision. As I drove the route taken by the landscape truck, it became obvious the driver had a clear view of all the kids on the hill for between five and ten seconds before he hit Annie. In other words, if the truck driver had been paying attention, he would have seen Annie slide down the hill and could have easily avoided hitting her. There was absolutely no reason for Annie to have been injured.
I agreed to take the case. I first obtained a copy of the police report to determine who owned the truck and who provided its insurance. I then drafted a letter to the truck owner and insurance carrier requesting I be provided with an affidavit, or sworn statement, outlining the available liability insurance coverage for the truck driver. After receiving this information, I wrote a three-page letter to the insurance carrier which included an analysis of the event, photographs of the hill and street where Annie was hit and a copy of one medical report describing Annie’s brain injury. Two weeks later, the truck driver’s insurance company agreed to pay Annie its policy limits of $250,000.00. The money was placed in a special account for Annie and will be available to her when she turns eighteen.
Nathan called our office after his 65 year old father had been run over. The police report indicated that Nathan’s dad had walked across a lane of traffic and stepped in front of an oncoming car which hit and killed him. The report stated that Nathan’s dad came from the driver’s left and stepped in front of his car leaving no way for the driver to avoid him. The investigating officer blamed Nathan’s dad. Other lawyers refused to take the case because the investigating officer believed it was his dad’s fault.
I agreed to review the case and represent Nathan if I believed I could help him. My investigation showed that Nathan’s dad was in the habit of walking across the street at this location every morning and waiting on the opposite side shoulder of the road until his ride for work arrived. Our review of the driver’s statement made to the investigating police officer indicated she never saw Nathan’s dad before hitting him. She said she thought she had hit “a dog or something lying in the road” but could not tell because it was dark. She did not know she had hit Nathan’s dad until she parked her car, walked back and saw him lying on the side of the road.
I obtained a copy of the accident scene photographs taken by the investigating officer and a copy of the autopsy report prepared by the County Medical Examiner. An examination of the photographs of the driver’s car showed the damage was done to the front of the car toward the passenger side as well as the passenger side, side-view mirror. The autopsy report revealed that Nathan’s dad had died from severe internal injuries; however, his left leg and ankle were shattered in several places. After reviewing all of the evidence, we agreed to represent Nathan in a wrongful death claim for his dad.
I drafted a letter to the driver’s insurance carrier and pointed out that, logically, the incident could not have happened as described by the investigating police officer. Importantly, if Nathan’s dad crossed the street from the driver’s left and stepped in front of the driver, all of the injuries should be on the driver’s side of the vehicle and most of the injuries should be to the right side of Nathan’s dad’s body. However, the photographs taken clearly show damage to the passenger side of the vehicle and the autopsy clearly showed that Nathan’s dad suffered the majority of injury to his left leg and side which would have been impossible if he was crossing the street as the investigating officer suggested. I argued that given the location of the damage to the car, including the passenger side, side-view mirror, and the location of the injuries to Nathan’s dad, in all likelihood, Nathan’s dad was standing on the side of the road waiting for his ride when the driver drifted off the road and hit him. No other reasonable conclusion could be drawn from the physical evidence. After receiving our letter and demand for payment, the driver’s insurance carrier agreed to pay Nathan the sum of $100,000.00, the limits of its liability policy.
Georgia was on her way to work when a young woman ran a red light and plowed into the driver’s side of Georgia’s car. At impact, Georgia’s head snapped to the left and she hit the door post. Georgia was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where she was examined and told she had a bruised shoulder and strained neck.
The other driver’s insurance company paid for the repair of Georgia’s car. When Georgia’s neck and shoulder problems did not resolve, she decided to hire a lawyer to represent her in the injury portion of her case. She did not know this lawyer, but was recommended to him by a friend.
Georgia’s neck problems continued. The therapy prescribed by her doctor did not work and her condition worsened. Approximately twelve months after the wreck, Georgia underwent neck surgery for a ruptured disc which, according to her doctor, was caused by the wreck.
Georgia’s first attorney filed suit against the other driver. The other driver’s insurance company offered Georgia $7,500.00 to settle her case, arguing that there was insufficient evidence relating her need for surgery to the wreck. Georgia refused to accept their settlement offer and the lawsuit dragged on for more than a year. In December, Georgia was notified that the case would be tried in January. Shortly after she learned the case was going to trial, Georgia’s first attorney withdrew from representation telling her “you weren’t truthful about your neck injury and we can’t win your case.” His statement was based on his mistaken belief that a bruised shoulder Georgia suffered years before in another wreck caused the same symptoms which led to Georgia’s surgery. Georgia, thoroughly confused and worried about her upcoming trial, picked up her file from the attorney’s office and began calling her friends to find the name of another attorney. Someone referred her to me.
I met with Georgia, listened to her story, and took a look at her file. This was the same file material her first attorney had in his possession for over twelve months. I agreed to take Georgia’s case and asked only that she contact her surgeon for a simple statement from him that her need for neck surgery was caused by the car wreck. Georgia called her surgeon, spoke with him and brought me the statement a week later. I contacted the lawyers representing the other driver, provided them with a copy of the doctor’s statement and my analysis of the case and demanded they pay their client’s policy limits of $25,000.00. In less than a week’s time they agreed to pay the policy limits and Georgia’s case was settled for the maximum amount she would have been entitled to recover from the other driver. I had resolved her case in less than three weeks time using the same information available to her first attorney for more than a year.
The four cases discussed above are not by any means all of the cases I have helped my clients resolve when other attorneys were not able or willing to do so. Over the past 28 plus years, I have had probably 50 to 100 such cases. I agreed to investigate each of the cases because the people had been hurt badly and needed help. I took the cases because I believe I could resolve them favorably for my clients. I resolved the cases favorably because I understood and was willing to do what was required to successfully represent my client. I was successful for my client because I did what had to be done and convinced my opposition it would be in their best interest to settle the case.
Why should you hire me? Simply stated, because, I know what I’m doing. I won’t promise you anything except an honest evaluation of your case. If I think I can win your case I will tell you. If I don’t think I can win I will tell you and suggest you contact another attorney for a second opinion. If you are involved in a situation with which I am not personally experienced or, for some reason I don’t feel comfortable representing you, I will give you the names of other attorneys who specialize in that field and suggest you contact them. If I can’t help you, I will help you find someone who can.
Every attempt will be made to settle your case without the added expense and inconvenience of filing suit. However, if you are dealing with an insurance company which simply refuses to pay you a satisfactory sum of money for your injury and lost time from work, your only alternative is to file suit. The insurance industry is aware that most people do not like to become involved in lawsuits. Because of this, insurance adjuster try to settle cases paying as little as possible. Once an offer is made to settle your case, you have the option of accepting it or not. If you accept the offer, the case is over. If you do not accept it, your only alternative is to file suit against the person who hurt you.
Suit should only be filed once a determination is made that your case cannot otherwise be settled.
Generally, within the metropolitan Atlanta area, it takes from twelve to eighteen months for a non-complicated civil case to reach trial. Complicated cases, such as those involving issues of medical malpractice, defective products, or that otherwise require extensive utilization of expert witnesses, may not be reached for trial for up to two years.
Not necessarily. The vast majority of cases, probably eighty-five to ninety percent, are resolved after suit is filed and before trial.
Liability insurance companies make money by either not paying claims or paying the absolute least amount they can get away with paying. They will always try to underpay a claim and save themselves some money. If they have a claim worth $100,000.00, they will tell the injured person, or the injured person’s lawyer if he/she has hired one, that they have evaluated the case at $25,000.00 and that is all they will pay. They will jerk the injured person and his attorney around for six months, promising to reevaluate the claim, but eventually they will make a “take it or leave it” offer, in this case say $50,000.00, worth approximately half of the true value. If the victim is unsophisticated, he/she may believe the insurance company is telling the truth and that $50,000.00 is all that will be paid. If the attorney is inexperienced, he/she may believe the same thing and recommend the victim accept the offer without filing suit.