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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I am injured in a car accident or at work what should I do?”

 

When a personal-injury claimant’s case is turned down by a lawyer or law firm because the value of the claim is too low, the claimant has three choices. The claimant can not file a claim at all, can handle the claim on one’s own, or her or she can contract with a so-called “settlement mill” to resolve the claim.

man walking Charlotte car accident lawyer Mecklenburg Injury AttorneyThe settlement-mill approach to personal-injury claims has its benefits and proponents. Settlement mills deliver legal services cheaply, avoiding many (or all) of the costs associated with lawsuits. They deliver justice swiftly. Indeed, the firms profiled in Nora Freeman Engstrom’s article in the October 2011 edition of the New York University Law Review strove for good customer service—which often included speedy resolutions to cases. This speed, Engstrom acknowledges in her article, saves many clients from suffering the “significant financial and emotional distress” that accompany protracted litigation.

Proponents of settlement mills say their aggressive advertising campaigns “encourage more individuals to file claims and retain counsel following an accidental injury,” which means more people have access to the justice system to seek compensation for their injuries, Engstrom wrote.

Data taken before and after the rise of attorney advertising shows that Americans injured in accidents are more likely now than before to retain counsel and file claims. To that end, “settlement mills are arguably expanding the pool of compensated claimants.” Additional studies have shown that claimants who may have simply “ate” their claims in the past (by not making a claim at all) have become educated about their rights by the aggressive advertising campaigns of settlement mills.

The correlation between advertising and the propensity of Americans to seek redress for injury has not been established conclusively, but Engstrom acknowledges that settlement mills may, “in their own unique way,” be expanding the pool of claimants who have access to compensation for their injuries.

The things that settlement mills do well, Engstrom writes—“speed, predictability, simplicity, and certainty are fundamentally incompatible with the idiosyncratic, fact-intensive, case-by-case determinations that undergird traditional tort.” Therein lies the problem of settlement mills, and it is a problem that most seriously affects claimants with serious injuries, whose cases deserve the kind of “attentive, individualized representation” that a traditional personal-injury attorney can provide.

The danger to claimants with high-value cases is that their cases will be treated with the same “cookie-cutter” approach as other cases, and will be settled for a depressed or artificially low value. The firms profiled by Engstrom were often able to settle cases with about one-day of work by attorneys and staff members. If a large settlement is obtained, the attorney’s large contingency fee may seem unfair when compared with the relatively little time one spent working on a case. The almost-exclusive involvement of non-attorney staff members in the handling cases raises serious questions about the unauthorized practice of law.

The current state-of-affairs in the personal-injury realm, Engstrom writes, is one of “haves” and “have nots.” That has been the case for decades—perhaps longer—since traditional personal-injury attorneys can only take, in general, high-value cases, leaving claimants with low-value personal injury claims to seek justice on their own or no justice at all. These claimants are, to an increasing extent, being served by settlement mills. These claimants are also, Engstrom writes, those who are in the greatest need of genuine, professional legal advice. She worries that they are not being served adequately by settlement mills.

Engstrom proposes the establishment of a publically searchable closing-statement system maintained by the state bar or attorney regulatory authority in each state. When settling cases, attorneys would be required to report information concerning the identity of the claimant and defendants, as well as their lawyers and any insurance carriers involved; the type of claim brought; the nature of litigation involved; the settlement amount and other basic information about a claim.

Consumers would be able to use this database not only to better educate themselves about the value of their own potential claims, but would also to educate themselves about the attorneys they are considering. How many other similar cases has the attorney settled or litigated? What were the values in those cases? How many cases has the attorney taken to trial? How many lawsuits has the attorney filed? How willing, based on this information, is the attorney to give one’s case the kind of attention it deserves?

With the closing-statement resource and the statistics derived therefrom, Engstrom believes, the American tort system may begin to move from a kind of two-tiered “haves and have-nots” system to one in which all claimants have meaningful access to justice.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://hanfordsentinel.com/features/how-do-adjusters-evaluate-auto-accident-claims/article_622f4778-c092-5994-b8e2-6151dd512f48.html

http://www.charlestonlaw.net/personal-injury-lawyer-charleston/

http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=583078083024095010119124096104110124033019081079037056018099098075099021014087080087062026096028010010047020012108029111104073033073037085088111074029125112115096088040081094123114096112001092085065017089119029069072127003011081092076075106110081067&EXT=pdf&TYPE=2

 

 

Image Credit

“”Le passage” de Gabriella Benevolenza” by gabriella Benevolenza – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Le_passage%22_de_Gabriella_Benevolenza.jpg#/media/File:%22Le_passage%22_de_Gabriella_Benevolenza.jpg

 

 

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The Problem With Secret Settlements :: Personal Injury Lawyers and Attorneys in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC

Lawyer says state got off easy on settlement after man was falsely declared dead

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” I have been injured on another person’s property. What should I do now?”

 

The legal system, by its nature, imposes certain standards, deadlines and costs that encourage personal-injury litigators to take on only the best cases—or cases with high values or those in which liability is uncontested.

Assembly line Mecklenburg Injury Lawyer Charlotte Car Accident Law FirmThat reality, coupled with other factors, has led to the establishment of some personal-injury legal practices that for the most part avoid litigation, endeavoring instead to settle clients’ claims as quickly as possible.

In an article published in the Hanford Sentinel, a Fresno, California-based attorney told personal-injury lawyer Dennis Beaver that claimants need to beware of “‘personal injury mills’ who advertise heavily on television and will take anything, looking for a quick settlement that is in their interest, not yours.”

Personal-injury or settlement mills have established, in essence, a niche market for low-value personal-injury claims. While the mills have the benefit of serving clients who may otherwise go without representation, many traditional tort lawyers criticize their practices, contending that they provide subpar representation and damage the reputation of lawyers.

In the October 2011 edition of the New York University Law Review, Nora Freeman Engstrom—an assistant professor at Stanford Law School—wrote that “personal injury mills” (Engstrom calls them “settlement mills”) operate “on the far end of a continuum of personal injury practice.” That is, the mills process claims on the low end of the compensation spectrum, claims other lawyers turn down because of low value. Lawyers turn down many low-value claims because the effort of a lawsuit, a trial and all that litigation entails are not worth the uncertain return.

Settlement mills, Engtrom writes, “advertise aggressively and settle what are usually low-stakes personal injury claims in high volumes, typically with little attorney-client interaction and without initiating lawsuits—much less taking claims to trial.”

In the article, titled “Sunlight and Settlement Mills,” Engstrom finds the rise of settlement mills astonishing, writing that while the business-model operates within the confines of traditional tort (“torts” are centuries-old legal doctrines that underlie most personal-injury claims), it has “quietly and improbably” delivered “to accident victims fairly certain and standardized sums at relatively low systemic cost.”

Engstrom details the “cookie cutter” approach taken by “settlement mill” law firms, noting that lawyers and staff rarely meet with clients; that cases are not investigated and lawsuits are rarely filed. Case values are based on formulas and are not correlated with actual injuries suffered by clients.

This “assembly-line model” is in stark contrast to the kind of detail-oriented representation provided by law firms in the traditional personal-injury litigation setting, where every lead is exhausted, no stone is left unturned, and no expense is spared in promoting a client’s interests. The trouble with settlement mills is, Engstrom writes, that many clients believe when they sign up that they are retaining the “old-fashioned conventional counsel.” This raises “profound issues of fairness and informed consent,” Engstrom warns.

It is not easy to find a good lawyer, and it is downright difficult to find a good lawyer to take a small case, Engstrom writes. Traditionally, the law has been a reputation business, a business of referrals by family, friends, associates, clients and former clients. That was until 1977, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona that bans on legal advertising were incompatible with the First Amendment. That cleared the way for attorneys and law firms to advertise aggressively. A partner from a Louisiana settlement mill told Engstrom, “I always thought it was crazy to have a referral system where you’re relying on Aunt Nessie’s neighbor’s postman’s baker to send you a case [when instead] I get on television, I tell people to call me, and they do.”

The lifting of the ban on attorney advertising opened the door to new legal business models and, in turn, opened the proverbial halls of justice to a new class of personal-injury claimants—those with small claims that may oftentimes be rejected by traditional firms. Settlement mills advertise more aggressively than traditional law firms and lawyers and derive most of their business from their advertising efforts. Studies show that while traditional-model personal-injury attorneys have on average sixty-to-seventy cases open at a time and serve in the range of one-hundred clients per year, lawyers at settlement mills serve anywhere from three-to-four times that amount.

Engstrom detailed two high-profile settlement mills—one from Texas and another from California—in her article, noting that the firms handled claims ranging in value from $1,000 to $20,000, tried to settle claims as quickly as possible—frequently within ninety to one-hundred-and-eighty days—and referred cases involving catastrophic injury or in which liability was contested to outside counsel. Clients rarely or never met with attorneys; most cases were handled, or “moved” by non-attorney staff members. One firm did not take a single case to trial over a period of six years. In general, the law firms were, ironically, places “where any connection to the formal law was highly tenuous.”

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

Part 4:

Settlement Mills IV: The pros and cons of settlement mills and suggested solutions

 

About the Author

Matt Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://hanfordsentinel.com/features/how-do-adjusters-evaluate-auto-accident-claims/article_622f4778-c092-5994-b8e2-6151dd512f48.html

http://www.charlestonlaw.net/personal-injury-lawyer-charleston/

http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=583078083024095010119124096104110124033019081079037056018099098075099021014087080087062026096028010010047020012108029111104073033073037085088111074029125112115096088040081094123114096112001092085065017089119029069072127003011081092076075106110081067&EXT=pdf&TYPE=2

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nike_Ajax_assembly_line.jpg

 

 

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “I was involved in a motor vehicle accident with injuries. Do I need a lawyer?”

 

By their nature, lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming and difficult. That means that when attorneys consider taking personal-injury cases on a contingency basis, they must choose their cases wisely, or choose only those cases on which they feel they are likely to receive an adequate return on their investment of time, energy and resources.

One man image Charlotte Injury Lawyer Mecklenburg Car accident attorneyMany attorneys, legal scholars and legislators have fought for decades for the establishment of some kind of modified, no-fault tort system for smaller personal-injury cases. They argue that the traditional tort system imposes high-transaction costs, delays compensation to injured claimants for months and years at a time, serves to clog up already-crowded court dockets, and delivers “unpredictable, lottery-like awards” to claimants—awards made by jurors who have little contact with the legal system and who have little means or knowledge sufficient to render decisions on liability or on the amount of compensation appropriate in a given case.

Furthermore, critics of the traditional tort model argue, the high-cost, fact-intensive “fault” tort system leaves out many injured claimants—notably those with small claims. In simple terms, it simply is not worth it for a personal-injury attorney operating in the traditional tort litigation model to take on small cases.

That was not always the case. Bakersfield, California attorney Dennis Beaver wrote recently in the Hanford Sentinel that settlement amounts in car-accident cases made millionaires out of thousands of attorneys, claimants, doctors and chiropractors in the 1980s and 1990s. In years past, a claims supervisor at a major California insurance company told Beaver, plaintiffs in accident cases “could expect the average claim to settle for at least three times the medical bills in addition to lost wages, regardless of how severe the impact was.” In California, however, settlement values returned to Earth years ago.

These days, adjusters closely examine claims to see whether the impact and damage to a claimant’s vehicle justified the injuries and treatment. If the claim is accepted, adjusters will seek to limit the nature and duration of treatment, leaving claimants to pay medical bills on their own in some instances. Even in cases in which property damage was significant, adjusters usually only have the authority to settle a claim for one-and-a-half to two times the amount of bills for related medical treatment.

The slim margins in small injury cases means, in practical terms, that it may be “difficult to find a good attorney to take your case,” the claims supervisor told Beaver. That leaves claimants either to handle claims on their own or to turn to a so-called “settlement mill.” A Fresno, California-based attorney told Beaver that claimants need to beware of “‘personal injury mills’ who advertise heavily on television and will take anything, looking for a quick settlement that is in their interest, not yours.”

Personal-injury or settlement mills have established, in essence, a niche market for low-value personal-injury claims. While the mills have the benefit of serving clients who may otherwise go without representation, many traditional tort lawyers criticize their practices, contending that they provide subpar representation and damage the reputation of lawyers.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

Part 3:

Settlement Mills III: Goal of settlement mills is to settle quickly, often for low value

 

About the Author

MattMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://hanfordsentinel.com/features/how-do-adjusters-evaluate-auto-accident-claims/article_622f4778-c092-5994-b8e2-6151dd512f48.html

http://www.charlestonlaw.net/personal-injury-lawyer-charleston/

http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=583078083024095010119124096104110124033019081079037056018099098075099021014087080087062026096028010010047020012108029111104073033073037085088111074029125112115096088040081094123114096112001092085065017089119029069072127003011081092076075106110081067&EXT=pdf&TYPE=2

 

 

Image Credit

“The one man power in our jury system LCCN2011661381″ by Joseph Keppler – Library of CongressCatalog: http://lccn.loc.gov/2011661381Image download: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/pnp/ppmsca/28100/28169v.jpgOriginal url: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.28169. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_one_man_power_in_our_jury_system_LCCN2011661381.jpg#/media/File:The_one_man_power_in_our_jury_system_LCCN2011661381.jpg

 

 

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Attorney hopes “conservative” jury’s $1-million car-accident award is a game-changer

Pair of 2008 “scared-to-death” cases draw to a close, seven years on

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “If I am injured in a car accident or at work what should I do?”

 

Seasoned attorneys—or those who were practicing law before the United States Supreme Court’s 1977 decision in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona—grit their teeth at the door that case opened.

Business meeting Charlotte Wrongful Death Mecklenburg Injury Law FirmI say seasoned: Bates was decided nearly forty years ago, meaning the legal profession’s collective memory of a time before legal advertising is fading. In those forty years, the door that Bates opened has been blown off its hinges, as many attorneys and firms have shifted their focus from the practice of law to the business of law, treating the practice with an entrepreneurial spirit more akin to the hocking of a two-cent product than a several-hundred-dollar-per-hour-service.

Attorneys charge high by-the-hour fees because the work they perform on behalf of clients is often specialized, so detailed and requiring such training and experience that no one else—literally—can perform it. In personal injury cases, however, most attorneys make an exception to the standard, by-the-hour billing practice. Instead of asking their clients to pay them on a regular basis for work expended on a case as the case progresses, attorneys work on a “contingency” basis—that is, attorneys do not bill and collect fees from clients during the pendency of a case but instead collect a percentage of the award to a client if a case settles or if—after a trial—a judge or jury makes an award to a client. If no settlement or award is made, the attorney—like the client—gets nothing.

In order to win a personal-injury case, a lawyer must prove that the at-fault party (the defendant) was at fault, or caused the injury to the lawyer’s client through negligent or intentional conduct. Oftentimes a defendant will argue that he or she was not at fault and will hire a lawyer to defend him or her. Or, as is common in accident cases, the defendant had a policy of insurance in effect at the time of the accident, and the insurance company hires a lawyer to argue that the defendant was not at fault and to otherwise defend against the claim.

Proving fault often involves amassing evidence through a labor-intensive investigation that involves time-consuming, effort-heavy and costly discovery mechanisms like depositions. In complicated cases, the cost of transcripts for depositions alone can run into the tens-of-thousands of dollars.

The process of proving a case can be “slow, costly, cumbersome, and unpredictable,” writes Nora Freeman Engstrom in an article published in the October 2011 edition of the New York University Law Review, titled “Sunlight and Settlement Mills.” At the end of the process is a jury, charged with determining who was at fault and the amount of damages to be paid, if any, to an injured party.

Since most attorneys take personal-injury claims on a “contingency” basis—meaning the attorney gets a percentage of the jury award or settlement, if any—the attorney can only take a case that promises a large return. Up-front legal costs—the costs associated with filing lawsuits, taking depositions, and securing expert witnesses who may charge tens of thousands of dollars for service and testimony—further complicates the process, as attorneys and clients must determine who will foot the bill for those costs, which may never be recouped.

What that means, in practical terms, is that attorneys must be extremely selective when considering taking on new cases. In general, busy personal-injury attorneys who litigate contested cases choose only high-value cases or cases in which liability is uncontested. Where liability is contested, an attorney must be convinced that, at a minimum, he or she has a compelling argument to make to a jury regarding the fault of a defendant in a case.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

Part 2:

Settlement Mills II: Slick advertising draws in pool of underserved legal clients

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://hanfordsentinel.com/features/how-do-adjusters-evaluate-auto-accident-claims/article_622f4778-c092-5994-b8e2-6151dd512f48.html

http://www.charlestonlaw.net/personal-injury-lawyer-charleston/

http://poseidon01.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=583078083024095010119124096104110124033019081079037056018099098075099021014087080087062026096028010010047020012108029111104073033073037085088111074029125112115096088040081094123114096112001092085065017089119029069072127003011081092076075106110081067&EXT=pdf&TYPE=2

 

 

Image Credit

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jochen_Vomhof_im_Mandantengespr%C3%A4ch.jpg

 

 

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The Problem With Secret Settlements :: Personal Injury Lawyers and Attorneys in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, NC

Lawyer says state got off easy on settlement after man was falsely declared dead

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” Is a tractor-trailer accident the same as an automobile accident?”

 

The estate of a Michigan man who suffered a fatal heart attack after being frightened to death when he ran into the back of a truck in Dearborn, Michigan in 2008 has settled a lawsuit brought against the trucking company that owned the truck for $300,000.

Rear end truck accident Charlotte Injury Lawyer Mecklenburg Car Wreck AttorneyAbdulla Kassem’s doctor, Werner Spitz, testified that Kassem could not see the truck because its rear lights were not visible and because it was raining.

“He doesn’t see the truck. The truck is not visible. He comes to within inches of the back of the vehicle and suddenly—boom—he hits,” Dr. Werner testified. Kassem as 85-years-old at the time of his death.

An attorney for the trucking company—Efficient Hauling Services—called Dr. Werner’s testimony “silly” and “speculative.” A cardiologist and Dearborn police officers testified that it was impossible to know when Kassem suffered the fatal heart attack or what caused it, according to the Daily Mail.

A Wayne County judge dismissed the estate’s lawsuit, but the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal last year. Efficient Hauling Services asked the Michigan Supreme Court to intervene in the case, the Daily Mail reports, but in the meantime the case settled. The settlement must be approved by Michigan’s Third Judicial Circuit Court.

North Carolina carved out its own version of “scared-to-death” litigation, also spawned by a 2008 incident that the courts did not resolve until this year, albeit in the federal criminal courts.

A metal detector coupled with an automatic, locking bulletproof lobby door turned back would-be bank robbers Larry Whitfield and accomplice Quanterrious McCoy. Their plan to rob the Gastonia, North Carolina Fort Financial Credit Union on September 26, 2008 ended before they even made it through the door.

The pair—armed with a .357 revolver and an AK-47 rifle—fled in a white Crown Victoria, but somehow got the vehicle stuck in a highway median in the pouring rain. McCoy was apprehended almost immediately, but Whitfield fled into a nearby neighborhood.

He broke into the home of Mary Parnell, a 79-year-old grandmother. Whitfield asked Parnell to accompany him from a hallway into a nearby room, where Parnell suffered a fatal heart attack.

Eventually Whitfield was arrested, charged and convicted of bank robbery. He was sentenced to serve twenty years in prison, receiving a sentence enhancement because, as prosecutors alleged, he forced a “person to accompany him without the consent” of that person—that person being Mary Parnell.

Whitfield’s appeal of the sentence enhancement—his argument was that his encounter with Mrs. Parnell was so brief as to not warrant application of the sentence enhancement—was rejected in a unanimous United States Supreme Court decision earlier this year.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3099600/Insurer-pay-300-000-Michigan-scared-death-dispute.html

http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-02/the-supreme-court-a-bank-robber-and-a-heart-attack

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-9026_11o2.pdf

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/supreme_court_preview/BriefsV4/13-9026_pet.authcheckdam.pdf

http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2015/05/27/insurer-to-pay-300000-in-scared-to-death-case/

http://law.justia.com/cases/michigan/court-of-appeals-unpublished/2014/311057.html

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Underride_guard_full-width_impact_test.JPG

 

 

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “The insurance company wants to send me to their own doctor for a second opinion. Do I have to go?”

 

Before last week, I did not know that the Rev. Al Sharpton had a daughter. I follow the news, therefore I now know that Sharpton has a daughter named Dominique, that she has sued the City of New York for $5-million over debilitating pain “she still suffers” after “twisting her ankle in a street crack in Soho last year,” according to the New York Post, and that on May 16 she hiked up a mountain in Bali, Indonesia.

Broken sidewalk Uptown Charlotte Injury Law firm Mecklenburg accident attorneyThat last bit of information came from Ms. Sharpton herself. She posted photos and commentary related to her mountain hike on her Facebook page. That was bad timing, because news had just broken of her lawsuit over the ankle injury for which “she still suffers.”

Legal analysts were quick to pounce. On CNN, Paul Callan quipped that the post “graphically demonstrates bad judgment and good feet. It all adds up to no case.”

No personal injury case that is, for injuries Sharpton claims she suffered in a misstep in a crosswalk at Broome Street and Broadway in Manhattan on October 2, 2014. By December, according to the New York Post, Sharpton began appearing in social-media images in high heels. The mountain climb, the Post speculates, “may sink her dubious case for good.”

The use of social media to torpedo Sharpton’s case is part of a growing trend in personal injury litigation. Social-media images and statements can affect personal injury cases “positively or negatively,” DigitalTrends.com reports, but “trends show the latter is more likely to happen.”

In other words, if a person has filed a lawsuit over back and neck injuries sustained in a car wreck a year ago, it probably is not a good idea for the same person to take to Facebook and Twitter to show off one’s Olympics-qualifying training regimen.

As the National Post reports, a judge on the British Columbia Supreme Court recently rejected a woman’s claim for damages in a personal injury case “by pulling 194 pages of her Facebook account and using it as evidence against her.”

Jim Keller, a partner at Keller & Keller, a personal injury law firm, said that his firm advises clients to stay off of social media while a case is pending. He said he also advises clients to warn friends regarding what they post on their social media pages and to restrict privacy settings so that outsiders have limited access to accounts.

“Insurance companies know Facebook is the go-to site for people to chronicle their daily events, including details about their accident,” Keller told DigitalTrends.com.

So watch out!

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/courts-could-use-social-media-exploits-as-evidence/

http://nypost.com/2015/05/18/al-sharptons-daughter-hiked-up-a-mountain-on-sprained-ankle/

 

 

Image Credit

“Chuetsu earthquake-earthquake liquefaction1″. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chuetsu_earthquake-earthquake_liquefaction1.jpg#/media/File:Chuetsu_earthquake-earthquake_liquefaction1.jpg

 

 

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Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What should I do if I have been injured by another party but I can’t afford a lawyer?”

 

A woman who is married to an American National Football League player has sued the investment firm that terminated her employment, alleging that her dismissal was based on racism and sexism.

Lawrence Okoye Charlotte Injury Lawyer Plaza Midwood Accident AttorneyThe woman—twenty-seven-year-old Philippa Okoye—said that a coworker at financial consulting firm deVere Group said he thought it was “disgusting when white women go out with black guys.” At the time, Okoye was dating Lawrence Okoye, a British Olympic discus thrower who now plays defensive end for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. Lawrence and Philippa Okoye have since married.

Before they married, however, another coworker told Okoye not to adopt her husband’s surname, saying that people would “think [she] was black.” Okoye alleges that her boss—Benjamin Alderson—agreed with the coworker, saying a “black-sounding” name would not be good for business, according to the Daily Mail.

Alderson is a senior area manager at deVere, according to Okoye’s lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Manhattan. deVere has offices around the world, with three located in the United States—in New York, San Francisco and Miami. According to Okoye’s lawsuit, Alderson said he wanted to pattern his office after offices shown in feature films Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room.

Those films depict rampant workplace drug and alcohol abuse as well as office parties with strippers and prostitutes.

In her lawsuit, Okoye alleges that when she began working at deVere, she was the only woman employed in the office, and that Alderson encouraged her to put up with the “banter” and to not be “sensitive.” She alleges that coworkers played a game in which they rated each woman who came to the office based on how “f***able” they were, according to the New York Post.

Alderson suggested that Okoye’s husband—who was working across the country at the time—was cheating on her, asking her to name “how many cheerleaders” her husband had slept with in a given day, “among many other vulgar, racist insults,” according to the Post.

When Okoye complained about the abuse, she said, she was demoted, and Alderson began mocking her Christian faith, calling her a “Bible basher” and singing Christian hymns whenever he walked past her desk.

Ultimately Okoye was transferred to California, where she worked for a spell before being terminated. According to her lawsuit, Okoye was told that she was terminated for performance-related reasons. Okoye alleges, however, that she was terminated because she complained about being sexually harassed by Alderson and others at deVere.

Okoye, who is British, said her work visa has been placed in jeopardy as a result of the termination. She also alleges that she has suffered severe anxiety as a result of the harassment.

Neither Alderson nor deVere had responded to the lawsuit or commented as of Tuesday morning.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3087697/White-wife-says-harassed-marriage-black-NFL-player.html

https://www.devere-group.com/globalpresence/globalpresence.aspx

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/nfler-wife-sues-ex-boss-manhattan-firm-harassment-article-1.2227336

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lawrence_Okoye_portrait.jpg

 

 

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I trust the insurance adjuster?”

 

Damages are the dirty little secret in personal injury lawsuits—at least the typical insurance adjuster wants you to feel that way. Sure, the adjuster tells you, the driver who hit you was at fault and his insurance policy covered the accident, but what did you really lose?

Wrecked car Charlotte Injury Lawyer North Carolina Car Accident AttorneyYou lost a few hours of work, you hurt your back but the X-rays came back negative. You are as good as new—except you might need a few pain meds and an injection here and there when the pain flares up. Anyone can expect that—a little pain here and there is a part of life, and juries know that. A jury will not give you much for pain.

This is a game that insurance companies play on a massive scale to try to avoid and limit paying out claims. Cullman, Alabama attorney Johnny Berry said insurers have been playing that game for far too long in Cullman, which “has a reputation among insurance companies as a conservative place when it comes to juries ruling in personal injury cases,” according to the Cullman Times.

Berry’s client in a recent case—Joshua Culwell—was driving north on Alabama Highway 69 on February 10, 2012 when his vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by Thomas Clay Benson, III, according to the Times.

Benson was underinsured, which means the upper limits of his own insurance policy were not sufficient to cover the injuries and damage in the accident with Culwell. In those instances, if a person injured or damaged in an accident has purchased a policy of insurance that includes “uninsured or underinsured coverage,” the injured or damaged driver can file a claim against one’s own insurance policy to cover the difference between the policy limits of the at-fault driver and the amount of damage or injury to the injured driver.

Culwell made a claim against his own insurer, Progressive. At the time of the accident, the thirty-one-year old Culwell was disabled as a result of service in the Iraq War. His work at a local manufacturing firm is limited to eight-hours-per-day as a result of the low-back injury sustained in the February 10, 2012 accident. In addition, Culwell has to take pain medication and undergo four epidural steroid injections per year to treat residual low-back pain, according to the Times.

If Culwell’s case progressed in the manner in which other injury cases progress, the insurer—Progressive—had numerous opportunities to settle the claim. So often, however, insurers choose to pay a defense attorney to roll the dice in court instead of using the same money to pay an injured customer, hoping that in the long run a tough stance against injured parties will result in lower overall claims costs.

In Culwell’s case, that strategy backfired, as a jury in the otherwise “conservative” Cullman awarded Culwell $1 million.

Berry told the Times that he hopes the Culwell case is a game-changer in Cullman that leads to more reasonable pretrial settlements. Attorneys for Progressive, meanwhile, moved to set aside the jury’s verdict and reduce the judgment to the $75,000 limit on Culwell’s uninsured and underinsured coverage.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cullmantimes.com/news/cullman-jury-returns-m-verdict-in-personal-injury-case/article_d7a32ada-f607-11e4-99cf-07464883bc48.html

 

 

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http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tan_Accord.JPG

 

 

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Do I have to sign a release allowing the insurance company to get my medical records?”

 

After Sgt. Matthew Kohr bought a venti-sized cup of his favorite coffee blend—called “Something Special”—from his favorite barista at his preferred Starbucks location in Raleigh, North Carolina, he received something unexpected and—he alleged in a lawsuit against the coffee chain—life changing.

Starbucks Charlotte Injury Lawyer North Carolina Trial AttorneyKohr, a Raleigh police officer, sought $750,000 from Starbucks after he was served coffee in a cup with no sleeve and an improperly secured lid. Kohr said the lid popped off the coffee and the cup collapsed. The hot coffee spilled on Kohr’s lap, burning his inner thigh and the tip of his penis, according to the Los Angeles Times. The burn caused such severe stress that it activated Kohr’s Crohn’s disease, “which required surgery to remove part of his intestine,” according to ABC 11.

Kohr was sitting in the Starbucks store when he sustained the burns. “I wanted to beat my chest and scream,” he testified last week during a jury trial in the Tar Heel State’s capital. The store was filled with customers, however, Kohr, said, so he ran to the bathroom, where his partner poured cold water on his leg. A burn and blisters had already formed.

The third-degree burns left Kohr “clinically depressed, anxious, sleep-deprived and unable to enjoy every day life,” his lawsuit alleged. The injury also affected his relationship with his wife to the point that she lost consortium—or her legal right to the “company, affection and assistance” of her spouse.

Starbucks’ lawyer blamed Sgt. Kohr for spilling the coffee. “How does someone who knows their coffee is hot, who has had fifty cups of free coffee in the last two months, how does that person spill their coffee?” the lawyer asked the jury. She also pointed out that Kohr drove from the Starbucks to a police lot, then drove his truck home, where his wife photographed his injury. Significantly, the lawyer said, Kohr waited over two hours before seeking medical attention.

Starbucks also pointed out that while it serves more than four billion cups of coffee per year, less than sixty damages claims have been filed against the company. The company argued that Kohr’s depression was caused by steroids he took to treat his Crohn’s disease, and that his Crohn’s disease was not related to the coffee spill.

Following a week of testimony, a jury deliberated for approximately four hours, returning with a ten-to-two verdict in favor of Starbucks. The verdict means that Kohr gets nothing.

Kohr’s lawsuit sparked comparison to the famous 1994 Liebeck v. McDonald’s, a case in which a New Mexico jury awarded a 79-year-old customer $2.86 million after spilling hot coffee in her lap. That case became “the poster child of excessive lawsuits,” according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAW Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://abc11.com/news/starbucks-not-liable-for-raleigh-police-officers-burns/713613/

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-starbucks-lawsuit-20150512-story.html

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/consortium

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/wake-county/article20665194.html

 

 

Image Credit

“Starbucks in WashingtonDC”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starbucks_in_WashingtonDC.jpg#/media/File:Starbucks_in_WashingtonDC.jpg

 

 

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Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “Should I trust the insurance adjuster?”

 

Legislation culled from so-called “bill-mill” American Legislative Exchange Council’s library of plaintiff-unfriendly proposals has become the law of the land in the State of Arizona, and personal injury attorneys are crying foul. They say the bill Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law last Thursday will prevent victims of asbestos exposure from recovering the damages they are owed.

Hazmat Suit Charlotte Injury Lawyer Mecklenburg Accident AttorneyGov. Ducey said that while victims are entitled to compensation, the bill would “increase transparency and fairness in asbestos litigation.” The bill, sponsored by Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, will require claimants in asbestos-exposure lawsuits to “provide a sworn statement of every asbestos-related claim they’ve made or plan to make.” This will discourage or prevent what Gov. Ducey called “double recoveries.”

Asbestos exposure can cause a deadly lung disease called mesothelioma. Many individuals who have contracted mesothelioma have attributed the disease to workplace exposure to asbestos. The naturally occurring mineral is used principally for building and electrical insulation.

Companies that produce asbestos-related products have faced so many law suits in the past two decades that they have set up asbestos-injury trusts to compensate those who contract mesothelioma as a result of workplace-asbestos exposure. Some companies have alleged that claimants—often with the assistance of crooked personal-injury attorneys—have sued for damages for asbestos exposure in one or more courts of law, received a settlement or verdict in their favor, and then turned around and made a claim for compensation from one or more of the asbestos-injury trusts, or vice versa.

That’s a practice Gov. Ducey wants to end in Arizona. The Arizona Trial Lawyers Association says, however, that the bill he signed into law will make claims more expensive and will delay justice for victims of asbestos exposure. Janice Goldstein, executive director of the association, told the Claims Journal that the goal of the bill is to “make sure no victim survives his or her asbestosis or mesothelioma long enough to testify in court.”

The Claims Journal noted that the “conservative pro-business group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council has been pushing similar legislation in states around the country.” That group generates model bills that editors at Mesothelioma.com say are beneficial to corporate donors, who pay annual dues of between $7,000 and $25,000.

Senator Thom Tills, R-North Carolina, was the Council’s “Lawmaker of the Year” in 2011. That same year, the North Carolina legislature passed a law capping noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases. Capping noneconomic damages in certain tort cases has been one of the Council’s principal initiatives in recent years, as detailed in its publication, The State Legislator’s Guide: Tort Reform Boot Camp. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, was named the Council’s “Lawmaker of the Year” last year.

If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.

 

 

About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAWMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.claimsjournal.com/news/west/2015/04/13/262768.htm

http://www.alec.org/initiatives/federal-relations/senate/

http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/staff/beware-of-alec.htm

http://www.wral.com/nc-lawmaker-wins-top-alec-award-/13858212/

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20110803/articles/110809870

http://www.alec.org/wp-content/uploads/TortReformBootCampGuideFinal.pdf

 

 

Image Credit

“DASA 01″ by Krd – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DASA_01.jpg#/media/File:DASA_01.jpg

 

 

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