Keeping pressing forward…

Sometimes if you keep pressing forward, good things will eventually happen…

When this young man’s family came to me, his family was told by their insurance agent that there was no coverage in North Carolina for hit and run wrecks.  Their son was a day student at a local college and had been the victim on a hit-and-run driver, leaving him with some bad injuries.

I had to explain to them — and then the agent! — about North Carolina’s ”contact rule.”  It is a harsh law, and it does say that no matter how many disinterested witnesses agree with the victim, unless there is evidence of actual physical contact with the ”phantom” hit and run vehicle, a victim of such a bad hit and run driver cannot recover.  Fortunately,after speaking with witnesses and investigating officers and visiting the towing company’s storage yard, we confirmed there WAS an actual “hit” to the son’s car.  Thus, we established son’s “uninsured motorist”  (UM) coverage was in play.

The living situation of this student was pretty unique.  He did not live in a dormitory, but actually split time between his parents, who are separated.  It some convincing of their insurers, but the next step was to get his parents’ policies on board.  I send North Carolina legal authority, and the adjusters took some recorded statement of the parents, but it became clear that the son was a “family member” of BOTH households, and was qualified for the UM coverage under each of those policies as well.

Then there were some questions of liability. The investigating police officer put down “failure to yield” against the  student, but once we obtained more detailed statements from the witnesses, we established both 1)no negligence by the victim, and 2) even if there was there was GROSS negligence on the hit and run driver.

So, in the end, there was the student’s policy limits that were tendered, the mom’s policy limits, and then the dad’s…all of which were and are desperately needed to help this family pay some of its bills.

It doesn’t always work like this, but sometimes insurance companies will do the right thing even though they have to be spoon fed and brought kicking and screaming to do it.

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Big Versus “ONLY”

The story of this case will never make the front page of Lawyers Weekly, but here goes…

Just hung up with a client…middle aged mom and wife; had a part-time job prior to her wreck; slowly getting back into her groove, but still BADLY in need of funds because of her injuries last year. Last evening before leaving the office, I went to the mat for her one more time with the adjuster, getting a promise to take my revised proposal to her claims manager. She did, and the claims manager agreed with my assessment and my demand, and so I had the happy duty to telling my client her “net” figure this morning. She is pleased, and very much grateful.

The point is this, I guess. It sure ain’t my biggest case, or even a “big” case, but it is this nice lady’s ONLY case. And that’s sometimes too easy to forget.

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On Political Conventions and Jury Arguments…

They came.  They saw.  They convened.

This past week in Charlotte, some 50,000 politicians, celebrities, reporters , lobbyists and protesters were in town for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.  By most accounts, the Convention did both the Democrats and the city of Charlotte a lot of good.

The Republicans had their big soiree in Tampa the week before, of course, and it may be that I am looking at this schedule like a trial attorney, but I think it’s been a HUGE advantage for the Democrats to go last.  In most civil trials, so powerful is the last argument that the best trial lawyers I know will often strategically maneuver to get it.

Under the Civil Procedure rules in North Carolina, the plaintiff usually gets the last chance to speak to the jury, BUT an exception occurs when the defendant chooses not to put on any evidence of its own.  I’ve seen many a trial where a wily defense counsel has chosen not to introduce evidence, even if it might be moderately helpful, in order to have the last word.

So from a strategic standpoint, much of the language from Time Warner Arena was a response to the assertions made in Tampa.

For me personally, the most informative and cogent speech was in many ways like a jury argument in and of itself.  Of course, I referring to President Clinton’s nominating speech on Wednesday evening (which I was fortunate to see live, albeit from the cheap seats).  Granted, this “jury argument” was in front 20,000 screaming Democrats, and broadcast to millions more, but that just makes his communication and persuasive techniques all the more remarkable.

It’s been said by more than one lawyer that often the best persuasion is simply education.  Point out the favorable facts. Compare them with the unfavorable facts of the opposing view. Preview what’s coming; summarize what you’ve said.  Rather than telling jurors what to conclude, lead them to a conclusion that THEY can make.

 

UPDATE  Thurs 9.27.2012 –

Earlier this month, I sent out one my periodic newsletters LEGAL TRENDS, ODDS & ENDS, with a lot of these same thoughts…check it out.

And just yesterday I sent out my periodic newsletter MEDIATION MINUTE to various insurers, plaintiff attorneys and defense counsel sharing some of these same thoughts, and how they might relate to opening presentations at mediations.  Again, just click to check it out.

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The Latest MEDIATION MINUTE Newsletter is Out!

August 23, 2012  10:43:52 AM

The Latest MEDIATION MINUTE Newsletter is Out!

In order to keep things cool at mediation during these summer months, it may be necessary to “QUERY” the opposing litigants.

After more than a decade of mediating Superior Civil Court claims in North Carolina, I am still struck by how often emotions can so easily overrule logic, and derail successful settlements at mediations.

 

It’s not that emotions are bad; far from it.  We are human beings after all, not Vulcans (see below), and as I wrote in a previous Mediation Minute last July, it would be strange if folks were NOT angry over lawsuits. Plaintiffs are upset because they feel they shouldn’t have had to file an claim in the first place, and defendants are angry over getting hauled into court.  Read more…

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Questions I can best answer… by not answering!

When a client (or someone looking for legal help on a website asks whether is “normal” to have certain pains after a wreck, it’s important NOT to give medical advice!

I received an Interesting query from someone on AVVO on whether it was “normal” to start feeling right leg pain and right should pain after a sideswipe wreck.  FWIW, here was my “no, but” lawyer-like answer…

>>Let me first answer your question by not answering it — because I am NOT a doctor!
What I can tell you is that in my 27 years of doing this, I’ve seen hundreds of cases similar to yours, and NO it’s not unusual for different pain to develop in different places in the days following the trauma. But that DOESN’T mean that your injury is “normal” for you or like everybody else’s because only a healthcare professional can competently advise you about that, not a lawyer.

The reason I recommend an examination for folks who are feeling the way you are is because in NC (and every other jurisdiction as far as I know) neither you nor I nor the passengers in your vehicle etc. can testify that the wreck was the cause of your symptoms. You need an medical expert that can render an opinion regarding the source of your pain, and that the treatment you received was reasonable and necessary because of the wreck. Thus, it is very important that you get the treatment that you need, and that a professional document your condition.

NEVER should anyone seek treatment they don’t really need, nor try to run up a claim by running up bills. It’s unethical and could be criminal. However, it IS vitally important that you get the treatment you need and that a competent health provider see you for evaluation, and that you document your injuries.

And just like a lawyer can’t tell you what therapy or medicine you might need, so cannot a physician help you evaluate your legal claim. Go see an attorney who is experienced and competent in this area. Most will see you on this type of claim without charging you a consultation fee (but you should confirm that up front).

Good luck to you and I hope you heal soon.<<

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A tradition continues, but with a new law firm comes a new twist!

This coming Saturday evening in Charlotte for the 24th time in 24 years, I’ll be attending (“Lawd willin’ and the crik don’t rise!”) THE GREAT GATSBY GALA to benefit the MS Society.  But as I write in our firm’s e-newsletter that was sent out just this past week, that event has never had a VIP table sponsored by DaisleyLaw


2012 – 24th Annual GREAT GATSBY GALA

.So to celebrate, we have issued a “Gatsby Challenge” where any interest reader of this Blawg or my newsletter can qualify for a VIP pass to this great event.  Read all about it, or click on to GatsbyGala.org look at the items for the Silent Auction, and then creatively email me which one you would most like to bid on, and why.

Have fun, and join usthis Saturday evening, August 4 at the Wells Fargo Atrium.

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Let Facts Be Submitted to a Candid World

236 years ago tomorrow…

 

Earlier this morning, we sent out our firm’s annual Fourth of July e-newsletter. Hope you will give it a quick look, and most of all, I hope you’ll accept my invitation to read or listen to The Declaration of Independence (takes about 8 or 9 minutes) during your holiday. Happy #236, America!!!
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs020/1102622079585/archive/1110335692942.html

 

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And the hits (against fair judicial races) just keep on coming!

While most of the attention today is being paid to the Supreme Court’s decision on immigration, what SCOTUS did not do today may prove to be even more important.  A slim 5-4 majority rejected a request from the state of Montana to hear an argument that would have allowed it to keep its own campaign finance laws intact.  Once again, this “conservative” court is telling an individual state that it knows best, and that despite the Montana Legislature’s views, corporations DO have the right to fund Montana elections virtually without limit.

As an editorial in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly concludes, this translates that our own judicial elections “could become expensive brawls.”

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A privilege to serve a client like this…

With her permission, I want to tell you about Lara Mingus.  Lara is a wonderful woman who suffered an unspeakably sad tragedy a little more than two years ago in rural Union County.  She witnessed her 7-year old son, Jonathan, being struck by a van while he attempted to cross the road to get to his waiting school bus.  I am not going to say anything about the how incident occurred because it is currently in litigation.

This much I will say – cases like this — and clients like Lara — are the reason I went to law school.

This good person is taking her devastating loss and trying to make something worthwhile come out of it.  This past weekend, she helped the Donate 2 Life organization that helps save 3the lives of persons desperately needing and seeking healthy organs to stay alive.

They held a bike ride in Davidson, and raised awareness of the need for the services this organization provides, and thousands of dollars to help in the effort.  Take a few minutes to look at the news reports, and learn about the families that are being helped in this effort.

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SCOTUS – A “conservative” court?

con·serv·a·tive

[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv]  adjective

1. disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

A lot of my Democratic buddies might be surprised to hear this, but I’m a pretty conservative guy, and I definitely believe in a conservative judiciary.

So in what universe can a Court be called “conservative” that reaches out to tell the litigants to bring it issues that neither side has briefed and didn’t intend to argue; that reverses long-standing legal precedent after these new issues are brought to it; and fundamentally changes the political landscape by its far-reaching and ground-breaking 5-4 decision.

Well, in this universe apparently.

E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post recently wrote for a piece for Sojourners,  favorite magazine of mine, Sojourners (and their associated blogs at sojo.net) and posted an excellent piece on the impact of the Citizens United case.  He outlines in a very methodical and precise fashion just how far the “conservatives” had to go to come up with this decision.   (Of course it reminds me of the infamous words of Justice Alito  – “not true, not true” — when it was predicted that this ruling would “open the floodgates to special interests.”  Wonder if His Honor still believes that?)

And I read this morning that in Arkansas former Justice Stevens told an audience this week, that he believes the Court — now seeing the destruction that this decision is bringing to politics — will look for a way to pull us all back from the cliff.  Maybe.

One can only hope.

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