Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day: The Start of Motor Vehicle Accident Season

  Memorial Day marks the start of summer.  With summer, motor vehicle accidents increase.  Here are some thoughts to drive by.

1.     Watch out for motorcycles.  It is easy to lose them in your blindspot.
2.     Check your rear view mirror.  While you have control over where you vehicle is going forward, you have no control over the person behind you who is not paying attention.
3.     Be especially careful on the Seward Highway.  I have had too many cases involving vehicles trying to pass so that they can move up in line and get somewhere 5 minutes faster.
4.     Remember that construction zones carry double fines.
5.     If you are an accident victim, it is more important to see a doctor before seeing a lawyer.  Remember that there is nothing a lawyer can do to make you better.

If you have questions, call my office at (907) 277 5234.  Remember:  You have to play your hand smartly.  See http://www.junelawyer.com/

Monday, May 21, 2012

Payment of Physician for Deposition Testimony

    Because being at a deposition means that a physician has been taken away from his livelihood of treating patients, fairness requires that the physician be paid for their professional time.  Without payment, usually in advance, physicians will understandably refuse to cooperate in scheduling their deposition.  At times, this surprises clients.

   What is more surprising is the amount that physicians charge as a "deposition fee."  In a recent case, a New York clinic required payment of $11,000 in advance as the "deposition fee" for a physician's assistant and a physiatrist.  If an additional $1,500 was paid, the clinic would allow the physician to discuss the case with me before the deposition.  A spinal clinic in Denver charged $7,000 for the deposition of a 2 hour deposition of a spinal surgeon.  In the end, these fees are the client's responsibility as a necessary cost of the case.

    What is even more surprising, however, is the inflexibility of physician's offices to refund any portion of the deposition fee should the deposition be cancelled.   In both of the above cases, clinics refused to refund any portion of the fee despite settlement agreements that provided 2 weeks notice of deposition cancellation.  Particularly when the fees are the client's responsibility, it is hard to believe that  2 weeks notice does not allow a physician adequate rescheduling time to put the cancelled deposition time to productive use.  It is also hard to believe that physicians would impose a cost like this on their patients.

  In the end, these practices require the lawyer and client to develop a settlement strategy that avoids unnecessary expenses.  You have to play your hand smartly.  See http://www.junelawyer.com/.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

After Settling Case, Client Has Second Thoughts

  A former client called me because she had settled a claim at mediation through another lawyer and was having second thoughts.  Her settlement had come after a long day of stress at the end of which the defense insisted that she sign a document agreeing to the settlement.  Her concern was that she had been pressured into agreeing to an unfair settlement.

   We talked about both the strengths and weaknesses of her case, the total amount of the settlement and the other important factors.  At the end, while one always hopes for a greater recovery, the client came to the conclusion that the settlement was fair under the circumstances.

    I did tell her that she had 2 unattractive options.  While the client could refuse to complete her settlement, the other side had the ability to enforce the agreement she signed and likely recover the legal fees required to do so, thereby reducing the settlement.  The second option is to terminate her professional relationship with her lawyer in which the lawyer would have a lien for the fee related to the agreed-upon recovery.  

   The more important lesson is that clients should understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case before attending a mediation so that they do not feel pressured to settle their claim.  You have to play your hand smartly.  See http://www.junelawyer.com/

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Police Officer's/Firefighter's Rule

   A police officer and firefighter have recently contacted my office for representation on injuries suffered in the line of duty.  The officer was injured by a negligent motorist, was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the negligence was not related to the officer's task at the moment.  The firefighter was injured on a call.
   There is a legal doctrine called the  "Firefighter/Police Officer's Rule" that precludes recovery for injuries strictly in the line of duty.  The reasoning is that these public servants assume the risk of these injuries when they enter the profession and that this is the reason that their unions negotiate their benefit packages.  However, the same doctrine allows recovery if injuries result from negligence or mistakes having nothing to do with the the call.

   The result is that the police officer can recover for his injuries but the firefighter cannot.   You have to play your card hand smartly.  See http://www.junelawyer.com/