Attorney Ben Schwartz informs other attorneys if they are in need of Delaware Continuing Legal Education – CLE credits, they should consider an upcoming seminar on Litigating Civil Cases from Start to Finish and Personal Injury Litigation: Secrets and Insider Tips.
I just want to do a quick video. If you are an Attorney and you need CLE credits, I’m going to be speaking at a couple of upcoming seminars. The first is July 30, 2019 in New Castle, Delaware. This is Litigating Civil Cases from Start to Finish.
This is a basic to intermediate course on litigation. It covers topics like civil litigation do’s and dont’s, motion practice, and pleadings, discovery depositions, how to authenticate social media evidence, building your civil trial skills and legal ethics.
Of course, legal ethics is the section that I’m going to be covering. The other presenters on this seminar are Rob Collins, from my office, George Codding from Lundy Law and Leonard Deutchman and also David Bamberger. This should be a pretty good seminar. It’s an all-day seminar on July 30, 2019, in Wilmington, Delaware.
CLE Credit Seminars For Lawyers
Another one that I’m going to be speaking on August 28, 2019 is Personal Injury Litigation: Secrets and Insider Tips. This covers Negotiating Injury Claims, Eliminating and Minimizing Liens, Medicare and Medicaid Secondary Payer Recovery Act stuff, Medical Expert Depositions, Pain and Suffering Damages, Smart Phone and Text Message Evidence, Insurance Defense Case Evaluation Strategies and Trial Prep, as well as Ethics and Personal Injury Litigation.
Now, I’m not doing the ethics on this seminar. The ethics are being done by Patrick Gibson. Patrick is brilliant. I have presented with him in the past and he does a great job with anything having to do with ethics. Again, Leonard Deutchman, also the other attorneys involved in this are Chris Logullo, Ray Cobb and Tiffany Shrank. This is August 28, 2019, again New Castle, Delaware.
These are both NBI National Business Institute Seminars. In the notes for this video, we will put links to both of the sign-up pages for these seminars. But, if you are an attorney you need to get CLE credits & you’ve got an interest in Civil Litigation or you’ve got an interest in Personal Injury Litigation, these are two excellent seminars to attend. Thanks for watching.
Today we are going to take up a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and that is getting legal advice after a serious accident. I got an email from an insurance adjuster that is a friend of mine and for the purposes of this video, the name has been changed. Let’s say Glenn sent me this email. He says essentially, can you do a video about this? One of the things that causes me the most stress is knowing after a motor vehicle accident people are taking steps that severely damages their own lives and futures and I cannot do anything to stop them. I am not allowed to give people legal advice about their rights. I was investigating an accident where a woman was run over by a motorist; our insured was intoxicated.
I visited the claimant in the hospital and quickly determined that based on the nature and extent of the injuries, a $100,000 policy limit settlement would likely be recommended. I was very nice to the lady and she quite willingly took a check from me for $1,500 and signed a release. I don’t feel good about it, but it’s my job. Tell more people to get legal advice before they agree to a settlement.
And know Glenn, I want to tell you thanks for writing in and raising this issue. I understand what you’re saying. What you are saying is as a representative of the insurance company for the at-fault driver, it’s not your position, and it’s not your right, and it’s not your obligation to tell someone, “hey look, go to a lawyer, you’ve got a big settlement coming to you. You’ve got money coming to you that will help you secure your future and help you live a better life now that you have these significant injuries”.
It’s not your job to do that and in fact, it’s actually your job to protect your insured. Meaning it’s your job to protect the at-fault driver from being sued; from having an excess verdict. A verdict from a jury that is more than the available insurance coverage. Then I understand as a legal professional all that you are is doing your job when you go to a hospital room, you meet with a woman who’s been run over, you get her to sign-off on a general release and she waives her right to sue in return for some small pittance.
I understand that I’m not sure that most of the population in the United States also understand that and so that’s why I agree. We should do this video, so folks if you’re watching what I’m saying in this video, is if you have a friend, family member or you know someone you’re related to or you know someone that you know if there has been a significant injury. You know there is a reason why everyone says get legal advice from a lawyer. There is a reason why personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation in order to give you legal advice. It’s because the insurance company has an obligation. The insurance company has an absolute duty to get the at-fault driver, or the at-fault person, out from under your legal claim. They are gonna do that as inexpensively as possible. Their goal is to get your signature on a release, on a document where you waive your right to sue., and if you meet with an insurance claims representative, if you sign anything, if you agree to anything, you are probably shooting yourself in the foot. Quite frankly that’s not really the proper analogy, what you are really doing is you’re shooting yourself in the head, because if you have been significantly injured in an accident, how are you going to pay your rent? How are you going to pay your mortgage? How are you going to put food on the table for your kids to eat?
You need to make sure that you take steps to secure your financial stability. That is what you speak to an attorney about. So, my pitch to you is wherever you know people all over the United States, inside and outside the United States, watch these videos. I get emails and messages and direct messages on Facebook and you know comments through YouTube from all over the world. If you are watching this video, here is what I want you to know. Wherever your accident was, go to a qualified personal injury lawyer in the jurisdiction where your accident occurred or where you reside. Get a free consultation. Get some legal advice, get someone who understands the insurance companies playbook and who can help you defend against the insurance company trying to run its plays. To make sure that you don’t get your ball down the field. To make sure that your future is sold out for the betterment of the at-fault driver, for the betterment of the insurance company.
Get that free legal consultation before you agree to anything. Get that free consultation before you talk to anybody from the insurance companies. If you don’t, you may be putting the bullets in the gun and putting the gun up to your own temple with your finger on the trigger. It just doesn’t make sense.
So, I think I want to say thank you to Glenn. You know, insurance adjusters tend to look at these cases as games and they tend, in my experience, to compartmentalize these things and sort of a game that they are playing so they can sleep at night and so that they can look themselves in the mirror when they are shaving their face and not feeling guilty about what they are doing to innocent victims of significant personal injury claims.
Glenn, I think it’s very brave of you to send me that email, I thank you for sending me that email. I thank you for helping me to educate people about what to do after an accident. Now, if you’re watching this video, I hope that you found it informative. I hope that you will share it with your friends and family. I hope that if you have a question relating to personal injury law or litigation that you will feel free to send me an email. Thanks for watching!
10 & 2 or 9 & 3? Personal Injury lawyer Ben Schwartz talks about how to hold the steering wheel in a car to protect you in case of an accident. Airbags can actually hurt you if you’re holding the wheel at 10 & 2.
Should You Hold The Steering Wheel At 10:00 and 2:00?
Today we are going to do a viewer question from Keith in Delaware. Keith wrote in, he said basically he’s taking a Drivers Ed course. The instructor told the class that you should hold the steering wheel at the 10:00 o’clock and 2:00 o’clock positions. Apparently, Keith tried to ask the instructor “Doesn’t that make it somewhat unsafe? Because what if the airbag goes off?” The instructor said, “Look, this is how you do it, you are supposed to hold the steering wheel at 10:00 and 2:00.”
Well, Keith, I’m here to tell you as a personal injury lawyer who handles significant injury cases involving car accidents with airbag deployment, you should absolutely not hold the steering wheel at the ten o’clock and two o’clock positions. The reason is that when they came up with the idea of holding a steering wheel at 10:00 and 2:00, it was before power steering. When I was a kid, you know, the cars that people drove did not tend to have power steering. You would have to really muscle the wheel around to get the car to steer if you were going at a slow speed. So, you would need to have your hands at 10 and 2 in order to be able to force the wheel around. That’s how you get as much leverage as possible.
Nowadays, cars have power steering – almost all cars have power steering. Not only do they have power steering, but they have airbags in the center of the steering wheel and if you get into a frontal impact and the airbag goes off, you can cause significant injury to your hands, your forearms, your thumbs. We have had numerous cases where people have had thumbs amputated after an airbag deployment. People have broken their hands, broken bones in their hands, broken bones in their arms after an airbag deployment because of the way their hands were looped through the steering wheel.
If you have got your thumbs wrapped around the steering wheel and the airbag goes off, what happens to your thumbs? You can cause significant injuries by having your hands in the 10:00 and 2:00 positions. I like to say if you have your hands on your knees under the steering wheel and you hold it that way, or you put your hands at the 9:00 and 3:00 o’clock positions, I would say that’s much safer. Also, don’t cover the airbag with your thumbs, don’t loop your thumbs through the steering wheel, otherwise you’re asking for trouble if you have an airbag deployment.
Today we are going to take a viewer question from Charlie in New Castle, Delaware. Charlie wrote in and said, “In a criminal case, why would a court sentence someone life plus 100 years? What does that mean? Does that mean they have to stay in jail 100 years after they die?”
The answer to that question is, I have seen that too. Not necessarily in Delaware, but in other states. I have seen news reports of people being sentenced to life plus “X” number of years, life plus 100 years, life plus 50 years, what have you. I think the reason you see that is because in many states a life term in a criminal case does not necessarily mean “life.” Sometimes when someone is sentenced to a life term it may presumptively mean 25 years or it may mean 25 years to life or something like that. The parole board may get a hold of the case after 25 years and have the opportunity to release that person from that life sentence of imprisonment. I think that giving someone life plus 100 years, life plus 50 years, or what have you, what the judge is doing is saying is that these sentences have to run one after the other, that is called consecutive. The sentences have to run consecutive even if a parole board were to say, “We are going to give you parole on the life sentence,” or even if the life sentence really means 25 years, there is a secondary sentence that has to run behind it to make sure that person never gets out of jail.
That is basically what my understanding of what life plus “X” number of years means. I really appreciate the question, Charlie. If you are watching this video and you have a question for me about the law, criminal law, personal injury law, anything like that, or trial work, jury trial work, please send me an email.
Today we’re going to answer a question from Jackie in Connecticut. Jackie wrote in and she said, “I’m a paralegal and I was reading your article about workers’ compensation and dog bite cases. I’m in Connecticut & I’m handling a dog bite case with an attorney here and our state has strict liability too. Our client also was on the job. If you could briefly share with me how to proceed with filing both claims. The workers’ compensation actually paid the medical bills, but do I follow up with the homeowner’s insurance for our client to be able to get pain and suffering damages?”
This is a really great question, Jackie. I appreciate you sending me that email and giving me that question. I think it’s very insightful and it’s something that if you’re an attorney, or if you’re a paralegal, or if you’re a member of the general public, this is something that you might want to know about. Essentially, I cannot tell you how things work in Connecticut. I cannot advise you on Connecticut law. I represent people in workers’ compensation cases, dog bite cases, personal injury cases generally in Delaware and Maryland and other attorneys in my firm handle cases in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But I don’t handle cases in Connecticut. I don’t know Connecticut law. Every state law is going to be different. Jackie, I can give you a framework to think about this and I can answer your question about what to do in reference to which insurance company to contact.
Let’s back up a minute. You’re already handling this client’s case. They were on the job and they were bitten by someone else’s dog. You’ve made a workers’ comp claim with their employer’s insurance company. What does workers’ compensation cover? I don’t know, I’m not a Connecticut attorney, but I can tell you that every state has some scheme of workers’ compensation insurance coverage. It’s going to be likely to cover medical expenses. It’s going to be likely to cover wages or some form of wage replacement. Typically in workers’ comp cases, depending on which state you’re in, typically in workers’ comp cases this is called total disability lost wages. It’s going to cover permanency so that if there is some permanent functional loss of use of a body part or an organ, the claimant, the client, is going to be likely to be eligible to receive some form of compensation for that. It’s going to cover disfigurement, which in a dog bite case, is very often the case that you have a disfigurement. Because disfigurement means a change in appearance, so if you have scarring in a visible area on your client, they probably have a right to make a claim for disfigurement benefits under workers’ compensation. Depending on the state there are other things that workers’ comp may or may not cover.
Then you asked how do I make a claim for the liability case? The liability case is this, it’s not the workers’ comp case. Let’s say that you want to pursue a claim against the dog owner who has this dangerous dog that’s going around attacking people while they’re trying to do their jobs, that is called a liability case. It’s called a liability case whether your state has strict liability for dog owners whose dogs injured people. It’s called a liability case whether you don’t have strict liability, you might have to prove that the owner negligently permitted the dog to bite your client. It’s the liability case. Nonetheless, in the liability case, you can make a claim for the same stuff that you made a claim for in the workers’ comp case. The medical expenses, the lost wages, permanent functional impairment to a body part, disfigurement or scarring.
You can also, generally speaking, make a claim for pain and suffering damage in your liability case and that’s one of the big things that makes a liability case different from a workers’ comp claim. In workers’ comp claims in the United States of America, you don’t get pain and suffering damage.
The third thing that you need to consider, well let me back up on this liability claim… You asked, “Do I contact the dog owners insurance?” I would say you start with the dog owner himself or herself. You contact the dog owner and you say you are representing Mrs. Smith, we are going to make a liability case claim against you. Please contact your homeowner’s insurance and have your homeowner’s insurance claim representative get in contact with me. That way I can work out a resolution to this case and not have to sue you. Oftentimes the homeowner does nothing, so you send him or her a letter. You send it certified mail. If you don’t get anywhere, you can contact the recorder of deeds for the property records department in the county or state where the homeowner resides. Maybe they have a mortgage and the mortgage company required them to have homeowner’s insurance and you can research who their homeowner’s insurance is. Or maybe you start sending out letters to the various insurance companies that do a lot of business in your state. Tell them if you insure this person get in contact with us, we are going to file a liability claim against them. These are all the ways you can find out who the homeowner’s insurance, or if there is homeowner’s insurance in the first place. You can sue the owner of the dog and if you file a lawsuit against the owner of the dog, if they have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, that insurance company will provide them with the defense attorney and pay any judgment you get against them or any settlement that can be obtained.
Now with all that said, here’s the fourth thing that you need to think about. When you are working on an on-the-job dog bite, does your state have a system of liens and credits? If your state has a system of liens and credits, that means that what workers’ comp has paid for medical treatment or permanent impairment, or what have you, is going to be paid back to the workers’ comp insurance company out of this liability claims settlement. It also means that in the situation and where you settle the liability claim settlement and your client receives money from that, the workers’ comp carrier might have a credit. So, if you settle let’s say for example you settle the liability claim for $10,000 and your client gets $6,500 dollars in their pocket, that might mean that for the next $6,500 dollars of medical treatment that is submitted to workers’ comp workers’ comp he or she doesn’t have to pay, that would be a credit.
These are the 4 things you look at in coordinating benefits in an on-the-job dog bite.
What benefits can we obtained through workers’ comp?
What benefits can we obtain through a liability case?
Is there a system of liens and credits and if so, how do we time these claims?
How do we time these settlements so that we maximize the benefits for our client?
I hope that this discussion gives you a framework for how to go about handling this claim. My suggestion would be to watch this video, watch it a couple of times. Send me an email. I cannot give you state-specific legal advice, but I can give you a framework for how to think about how to handle this case. That framework can be used to talk to the attorney who is going to be litigating the case in order to make a plan that helps you maximize the benefits for your client.
Jackie, thanks for your email. Good luck to you. You can contact me if you have questions about the law generally about personal injury litigation in general. I’m Ben Schwartz, an attorney in the state of Delaware and the state of Maryland as well.
Thanks for watching!
Dog Bite While At Work – Workers’ Compensation and Dog Bite Cases