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Often, when there has been a string of trial victories for the plaintiff, the defense bar overreacts and calls for a wholesale change in our Civil Justice System. This often includes a feigned outrage over plaintiff’s attorneys’ contingency fees, as if how a plaintiff’s attorney is paid for their success is the root of all evil in the Civil Justice System (or even any business of the defense attorney or the Court). Some defense attorneys even go as far as calling for an end to all contingency fees for plaintiff’s attorneys, or at least that some very small percentage be used as a cap, as if the Legislature has some authority to intervene in a lawyer’s ability to contract with her client. We know that some of this mock outrage by defense attorneys is all for show for their clients. But it sure gets old. Just see the look on their faces when you suggest that defense lawyers only get paid if they are successful at trial. They will end that discussion pretty quickly.

The constant attack of plaintiff’s lawyers and the contingency fees by which plaintiff’s attorneys are paid makes me think of the critical role contingency fees play in our civil justice system. It is not a stretch to say that without contingency fees, most injured plaintiffs would never be able to bring a case to seek Justice for their injuries. What person who has been seriously injured in a car wreck, for example, who cannot return to work due to those injuries and has no income coming in even to pay for groceries, could possibly afford to hire an attorney and pay him/her an hourly fee to bring a civil case for his injuries?  Add to that the fact that the average length of a civil lawsuit now is easily 3-5 years. No individual could possibly continue to pay an attorney an hourly fee for 3-5 years of work to bring a personal injury case for Justice, plus the necessary expenses to bring a case to trial. Enter the contingency fee. A contingency fee allows such an injured individual to hire a good trial lawyer who is willing to bear the risk and expenses of bringing such a personal injury case to trial for the individual. The client owes the attorney a fee only if and when the attorney is successful for the client. It works perfectly.

Yesterday, a Virginia Court pointed out this critical value of a contingency fee in a personal injury case.  In determining that a plaintiff’s attorney’s contingency fee of 1/3 of the recovery was reasonable, the Virginia Court noted: “A contingent fee may permissibly be greater than what an hourly fee lawyer of similar qualifications would receive for the same representation.” Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers, supra, § 35 cmt. c. That is so because “contingency fee agreements transfer a significant portion of the risk of loss to the attorneys taking a case.” Portsmouth 2175, 298 Va. at 334, 837 S.E.2d 504 (quoting In re Abrams, 605 F.3d 238, 246 (4th Cir. 2010)). “A lawyer might expend considerable effort” only to recover nothing. Id. Or “a lawyer may expend minimal time on a case and obtain a full recovery.” Id.  Moncrieffe v. Deno, 0342-22-2, 2023 WL 362445, at 4 (Va. Ct. App. Jan. 24, 2023).  The Moncrieffe Court took the opportunity to sing the virtue of contingency fees and their necessity in a fair and smoothly working civil justice system. See generally Restatement (Third) of the Law Governing Lawyers, supra, § 35: “Contingent-fee arrangements perform three valuable functions. First, they enable persons who could not otherwise afford counsel to assert their rights, paying their lawyers only if the assertion succeeds. Second, contingent fees give lawyers an additional incentive to seek their clients’ success and to encourage only those clients with claims having a substantial likelihood of succeeding. Third, such fees enable a client to share the risk of losing with a lawyer, who is usually better able to assess the risk and to bear it by undertaking similar arrangements in other cases (cf. Restatement Second, Agency § 445.”  Moncrieffe v. Deno, 0342-22-2, 2023 WL 362445, at 4 (Va. Ct. App. Jan. 24, 2023).

sew-for-christ-photography-eBknbEBuYY0-unsplash-300x225Serving as a juror is an essential part of American citizenship. The sixth amendment of the United States Constitution grants every individual accused of a crime the right to an impartial jury, but did you know that you may also be called to serve as a juror in a civil trial as well? If you have never been selected for jury duty in the state of Georgia, there are several things to expect during the process. 

The Summons

You may have received a letter in the mail calling you to perform your civic duty to sit as a juror, however not everyone is eligible. Here are some of the criteria you must fit in order to serve on a jury in Georgia:

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In what can only be described as a jaw-dropping, scorching opinion, issued on December 20, 2023, the Georgia Supreme Court soundly rebuked the Georgia Attorney General’s Office for lack of integrity in negotiations with the Federal Defender Program regarding when the AG’s office would resume executions of death-sentenced inmates.

In State v. Fed. Def. Program, Inc., S22A1099, 2022 WL 17813458 (Ga. Dec. 20, 2022) made the following agreement, in writing via email, with the Federal Defender Program:

“Our office will not pursue an execution warrant from the District Attorney in the below defined cases before: 1) the final COVID19 judicial emergency order entered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia expires; 2) the Georgia Department of Corrections lifts its suspension of legal visitation, and normal visitation resumes; and [3)] a vaccination against COVID19 is readily available to all members of the public.

Health-5-300x203Workplace injuries are unfortunately common, especially in industries where employees have to handle dangerous equipment, perform repetitive motions, or work under potentially hazardous conditions. If an accident occurs, workers’ compensation is the clear recourse in most cases, but not all. There are some situations where your best interests may be served by waiving workers’ comp and speaking to a Georgia personal injury lawyer instead.

Negligence of a Third Party

If your injuries were caused by a third party such as a contractor, subcontractor, or property owner, you may want to consider waiving workers’ comp and filing a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible. Examples include a contracted forklift driver who fails to operate their equipment safely or a property owner who does not make the premises safe for you to do your job.

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It happens all the time. It’s likely even happened to you. 

Every year, thousands of Georgia residents are injured because property and business owners fail to keep their premises safe for the public. Bunched carpeting, unmopped spills, poor lighting, and cracked sidewalks can all result in sprains, broken bones, and even brain or spinal cord injuries. These incidents are all premises liability cases, and property owners and managers may be liable for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Who is Responsible?

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Thomas Roe Frazer lived a life of servanthood his entire life. Born on May 20, 1936, in Marion, Kentucky, Tom died peacefully in his sleep on October 14, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. Tom Frazer lived most of his life in Sturgis, Kentucky, as the owner of and registered pharmacist at the Sturgis Pharmacy starting in 1963. He was a pillar of Sturgis and the greater Union County community for 60 years. He is survived by his children Thomas Roe Frazer II (Sandy) of Nashville, Joseph Atchison Frazer (Katherine) of Miami, Florida, and Robin Frazer Clark (Bill) of Atlanta, Georgia, as well as seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his dear wife of 63 years, Patricia Teasley Frazer.

Tom Frazer lived a wonderful life. He loved his Church, Sturgis UMC, his wife, his children, his work, and his recreation. He served in the Church his entire life, and always put others ahead of himself, practicing the Golden Rule in his daily life. He was a friend to many, some who knew him as their trusted pharmacist, many who knew his golden heart, and all who knew his love for life and the lives of others. For the few who knew him as Daddy or Papa, he was the best earthly father and grandfather ever. While Tom’s lifetime accomplishments were many, he cherished his family the most.

Tom grew up in a drugstore, City Drug Co. in Marion, Kentucky, the son of pharmacist Ted Frazer, Sr. and Melba “Babe” Frazer. His home was a five-minute walk away from his father’s drugstore. His Church, Marion United Methodist, was in his backyard, and his schoolhouse just across the street. He was an athlete, starring in football and baseball, even playing semi-pro baseball as a teenage catcher for the Fredonia Red Hots. He loved basketball enough to become the youngest (while still a teen) certified basketball official in the state of Kentucky. He was also a top referee for 30-plus years for Kentucky high school football, officiating in the state championship games in Louisville. As a boy, he loved to hunt quail and duck in the beautiful woods of Crittenden County, and fish at Kentucky Lake. His paternal grandfather, Thomas Atchison Frazer, was the doctor in town, and his maternal grandfather, William Roe Williams, taught him about life as a farmer.

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Demonstrating physical and emotional harm is critical to winning a personal injury lawsuit. In addition, Georgia law allows injured parties to receive compensation for all physical and emotional effects of their injuries. The term ‘pain and suffering’ is often used to describe these damages.

“Pain” refers to any discomfort and injuries caused by the accident, such as broken bones or spinal cord injury. “Suffering” encompasses conditions such as depression, anxiety, and despair at no longer being able to care for your family. These conditions can be both immediate (after the accident) and long term. 

Calculating Pain and Suffering

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Lately, I am seeing more and more advertisements, on T.V., on Youtube, on Court TV, on Instagram, on Tik Tok, essentially on every Internet Platform you can think of, of lawyers who tout their legal acumen and ability to get an injured person a lot of money with very little effort. Some of these advertisements have fake clients in them who look perfectly normal, healthy and uninjured, claiming their attorney got them a check for $350,000.00 or some high dollar amount “just like that” with “one call.” Some of these advertisements brag about their lawyers being “trial lawyers” when they actually haven’t even tried very many cases, if any.  Some of these advertising lawyers claim to be “elite” (they actually use that word) and yet haven’t even tried 10 cases. Some of these advertisements actually mislead the injured consumer with false statements about what the law and ethical rules allow.  Some of these advertisements brag that their lawyers have secured more money in verdicts than any other firm in the “universe” or the “metaverse,” and yet aren’t even licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia.   Some of these advertising lawyers brag about obtaining a verdict but upon closer inspection, it was a bench trial, decided by a judge, with no opposition. Things that make you go hmmm…. As a Georgia trial lawyer with over 34 years of experience, I am really just plain sick of it.

I want to help the person who has been injured as a result of someone else’s or some entity’s negligence who is looking for a bona fide Georgia Trial Lawyer to represent them with their case, all the way through trial and appeal if necessary.  These are things you should know when hiring a trial lawyer.

  1.  Is the attorney actually licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia? Any member of the public can find this out very easily, thanks to the State Bar of Georgia. Simply go to the State Bar’s website, gabar.org, and on the right side you will see a “Member Directory” where you can search for the person’s name. It will tell you if that person is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, where the person went to law school, and when the person first started practicing law in Georgia. This member search on gabar.org will also tell you whether the lawyer has been subject to any public discipline.  This tells the consumer how much experience the lawyer has with the law of Georgia.  Do you really want to entrust your case to someone who has been a lawyer for only two years? If you are looking at a  law firm’s website, you should search every member of the firm here. If only one out of the entire firm is actually licensed to practice law in Georgia, that should tell you how little experience that one Georgia lawyer, in all likelihood, actually has in Georgia law and especially Georgia trial law.  Stay away.

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When you’re injured, your first concern is usually getting back to your life as normal. As such, you’re likely concerned about the settlement you may get from your personal injury case and whether or not it will be enough to cover all of the bills and expenses that have piled up while you’ve been injured. While there is no sure-fire way to guarantee that you will get the settlement amount you want, there are several factors that could play a role in the final payout you receive.

To start, the type of accident you were involved in plays a large role in the value of your case. If you were injured in a pedestrian accident or a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you will likely receive significantly more compensation than if you were involved in a car crash that was partially your fault.. However, if you sustained an injury as the result of a defective product (such as a malfunctioning airbag or defective bicycle helmet), the amount you can recover may be significantly more, depending on whether or not the manufacturer was negligent in their creation of the product.

Another factor that could affect your final settlement is the nature and severity of your injuries. The more severe your injuries are, the harder it will be for you to return to work and the more you’ll need to recover in order to pay your medical bills and other expenses. As a result, you may receive a larger settlement if your injuries are severe or permanent rather than if they are only temporary. On the other hand, if the injury you received is relatively minor and did not cause any serious complications or lasting effects, you might not receive any compensation at all. Although you can receive compensation for pain and suffering in a personal injury case, arguing for damages due to mental and emotional distress can be significantly more difficult than physical injuries. As a result, your claim could be worth much less if the emotional impact of your injury is your main point of contention.

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I read with horror and sadness about another child who was severely injured from falling off a elevated bunk bed that had no bedrail or guardrail. This time it happened to a young child, Easton Oliverson, who was playing in the Little League World Series.  Horror and sadness because this was a  totally predictable and totally preventable incident because there were no rails on the elevated bunk bed this child fell from. This happened during the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The child suffered a head injury as the fall punctured an artery which caused bleeding on the brain and he needed a piece of skull removed during emergency brain surgery. Some encouraging news came Wednesday, KSTU reports, as Easton was awake, off of oxygen assistance, talking and sitting up in a chair.

When the incident happened, the child’s teammates heard him fall and were able to get help quickly. His uncle said the fast action by all involved may have saved the child’s life.

“We’re just at point now where he’s just in recovery,” the uncle said. “The teammates heard him fall, thank goodness. When they got into surgery, the doctor talked to [him] and said had he not gotten into surgery but 30 minutes later, he would have been dead.”

Awards
American Association for Justice Badge
Georgia Trend Legal Elite Badge
State Bar of Georgia Badge
Georgia Trial Lawyers Association Badge
ABOTA Badge
LCA Badge
Top 50 Women attorneys in Georgia Badge
Super Lawyers Badge
Civil Justice Badge
International Society of Barristers Badge
Top 25 National Women Trial Lawyers Badge
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