EVERYBODY LIES UNDER OATH IN MY WORLD

NeuwirthLaw For Lawyers

By <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/">Alex E. Proimos</a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4199675334/">https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4199675334/</a>, <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0" title="Creative Commons Attribution 2.0">CC BY 2.0</a>, <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22535544">Link</a>

What? Yes, sad but true. There are so many lies told in personal injury litigation that it is simply impossible to keep track of them all. The most common is: I was driving the speed limit.  This is followed closely by I had two hands on the wheel and was looking straight ahead. Third, I am an excellent driver. Fourth, I dropped something (insert gum, chicken nugget, water bottle etc.) and looked away for a split second.

None of these statements are ever true.  However, they are almost impossible to factually undermine with an expert or some other measuring device. Really, the best way to undermine them is to establish all of the other facts that would have been apparent had the deponent been doing what they say they were doing.

For example, where a driver switches lanes unexpectedly and crashes into a car in their blind spot causing it to drive into oncoming traffic, a deponent will often say the victim’s car was not there! Well, it must have been there, you just did not see it. Or, they will say that the victim’s car was speeding. Well, you cannot just the speed of another vehicle unless you can see it, so therefore you are guessing, lying, or saw it but refuse to admit it.  Or, more likely the car was in your blind spot and the crash is your fault, but you don’t want to admit that.

So, do the lies matter? Well, we would all prefer that people tell the truth under oath.  That is sort of the whole point of the oath.  Further, generally, the lawyers on both sides do not tend to believe these incorrect, untruthful, or simply outright lies.  But, if someone says that they were doing 35mph in a 35mph zone when they were actually doing 50mph, it is nearly impossible to disprove that for several reasons. First, it is very hard to distinguish differences in speeds of 15mph or so. Second, in most personal injury cases, expert costs matter to clients who pay the bills at the end of the case. So, you should not be spending $5,000 on an accident reconstruction case where the expected settlement value does not justify the expenditure.

I tell all of my clients during deposition preparation to tell the truth. I say it explicitly to them and remind them that I will stop the deposition and talk to them if I find that they are not following my advice. It is easy advice to give and puts most people at ease that the deposition will be easier than they expected. All they have to do is tell the truth!

DO YOU UPOD OR OPUD?

NeuwirthLaw For Lawyers

Do you want happier clients and more referrals? You need to understand UPOD v. OPUD. What the heck am I talking about? UPOD is under promise and over deliver.  That is preferable and better. OPUD is over promise and under deliver.  This is problematic and upsetting to clients. So, which would characterize your average litigation interaction with clients?

I think that I am guilty of Overpromising and underdelivering at times because my practice is one where new clients come in and instantly want to get a feel for whether it is worth pursuing a case or not and hence what the typical value of their injuries is or could be.  From years of doing this, I can assign values to generic injuries like a broken arm etc. But, each case is different and some get stronger or weaker during litigation. It is always best to stay mum on potential recoveries if possible, but it is not easy.  This is especially true in pre-litigation negotiations.

Let’s say a client comes in with a serious car crash and a broken leg with surgery.  The insurance company may offer them $100,000 pre-suit.  The insurance company and I both know that the case is worth $250,000 if it goes into suit. But, if I tell the client the case is worth $250,000 and then the case falls apart during litigation, it will be hard to settle for $150,000 because the client is fixated on $250,000.

This applies to many litigation contexts. As a lawyer, you have to be able to convince the client that you are the right lawyer for the job. This involves telling the client about other similar successes in this area of the law and suggest potential recoveries.  Hence overpromising.  Plus, you also have to convince the client that going through the headache of litigation is worthwhile. Again, you have to overpromise a bit to convince someone to endure depositions, interrogatories, inspection of them as a person or driver etc.

So, how do you underpromise and overdeliver. Often, we default to I cannot tell you how the insurer will view the case, which is very, very true. But, to me it is mealy mouthed. Other times, when I send a demand letter to the insurer, either before or during litigation, the demanded number is necessarily higher than the eventual settlement due to negotiation tactics and other factors. But, if not properly couched, clients may get attached to the demand number rather than appreciating the costs and risks of continuing with the litigation.

So, the goal is always UPOD, but it is a learned skill and one to strive for if you want to maintain happy clients and future referrals.

Insurance: The Necessary Evil

NeuwirthLaw Uncategorized

 

Auto-Insurance Best Practices:

  1. please make sure that you are Full Tort
  2. please make sure you have uninsured (UM) and underinsured (UIM) insurance coverage for yourself and your family.

I can drone on about why or what it is, but take my advice.  Regular old bodily injury insures if you hit someone else. Why would you protect your family less than you would protect the stranger you may hit? That does not make sense.  If you get hit by a young texting and driving kid, you probably don’t want to rely on the kid’s PA minimum coverage of $15,000.  So, ask your agent to fix that for you. Insurers don’t promote this coverage, though it is preferred by law, because it allows you to sue your own insurer and they don’t like that.  So, they keep it hushed up and confusing. Don’t be a sucker.

Insurers are Fighting to Kill Stacking and The Household Vehicle Exclusion

NeuwirthLaw Uncategorized

Insurance companies lend you umbrellas when the sun is shining, but want them back the minute it begins to rain.  This quote is sometimes attributed to Mark Twain regarding bankers, but in my view applies equally to my insurance company opponents.  Did your rates plummet when you were not driving during the pandemic?  No, they did not.  Why not?  Because it would hurt the insurers.

In 2019, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court undid an improper insurance exception to insurance laws and the insurance lobby has been seeking to change the law ever since because it would benefit you if you are hurt.  As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has moved more to the center, multiple cases have made their way to the Court seeking to rectify situations where the insurer is trying to deny its policy holders’ coverage when they are injured.  The household vehicle exception and stacking waivers were ripe for review.  The insurance industry has been rightfully pummeled by the Court, like one of those MMA fighters who is still standing, but just completely bloodied.  Decisions on the household vehicle exception, stacking, and a host of other decisions have allowed policy holders to push back and get some justice.  Insurance companies have fought this every step of the way.

What is stacking and the household vehicle exclusion?  Stacking is when you have two cars and your coverages are doubled.  So, if you had $100,000 in coverage and you owned two cars, that would be $200,000.  Stacking is the default.  To avoid giving you your $200,000 stacked coverage, your insurer needs to obtain a stacking waiver.  Many people unwittingly sign these waivers because they don’t know better.  The waiver really only benefits the insurer because it allows the insurer to pay you only $100,000 instead of $200,000.  The difference to the customer is like $100 a year or so.  Every insurer had inserted an exception to the stacking waiver requirement saying that stacking did not apply to them if your other vehicles were not listed in a single policy.  So, let’s say you had a motorcycle insured by GEICO and a car insured by GEICO on separate policies.  Geico would not have obtained a stacking waiver because it believed that there could not be stacking between two separate policies.  In 2019, the PA Supreme Court disagreed and reiterated the default rule that vehicles have stacked coverage unless there is a waiver.  In Gallagher v. GEICO Indemnity, Co., 650 Pa. 600 (2019) the different policies exclusion (“household exclusion”) was ruled invalid.  Now, if the carrier does not have stacking waivers, your coverages go up.  This is very helpful to injured people and very upsetting to insurers.

As a result, the insurers are lobbying to abolish stacking in all its forms.  Again, see paragraph one above about umbrellas when it is sunny.

Recent Case Results for Neuwirth Law (2-2022)

NeuwirthLaw Uncategorized

Neuwirth Law Offices delivers favorable awards for personal injury victims and their survivors in Philadelphia and surrounding Counties.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, contact us today to receive just compensation. 

2019 – $300,000 – Car crash with knee surgery  – Berks County

2019 – $   25,000 – Car Crash Back injury – Philadelphia County

2020 – $195,000 – Fractured Ankle with surgery from car crash – Montgomery County

2020 – $  50,000 – Slip and fall fractured eye socket / orbital bone – Delaware County

2020 – $500,000 – Death following car accident, policy limits – Bucks County

2021 – $100,000 – Car accident – Montgomery County

2021 – $900,000 – Car accident – Suburban County

2021 – $   25,000 – Fall on sidewalk, puncture wound – Philadelphia County

2021 – $275,000 – Fall on sidewalk, elbow fracture with surgeries – Montgomery County

2021 – $500,000 – Car crash, head on collision, sternum fracture – Philadelphia County

2021 – $225,000 – Rear ended texting and driving spinal surgery/ policy limits – Montgomery County

2021 – $   75,000 – Car crash with TMJ jaw disorder – Montgomery County

2021 – $    15,000 – Car accident policy limits – Location Withheld

2021 – $210,000 – Fractured sternum and vertebrae from car crash – Chester County

2021 – $   30,000 – Car crash, hit by drunk driver, multiple back injections – Location Withheld

2021 – $    15,000 – Policy limits, hit by hit and run driver, Fractured ankle – Location Withheld

2021 – $100,000 – Convergence disorder and concussion following rear end crash – Philadelphia County

2021 – $   50,000 – Torn meniscus no surgery. Hit by uninsured driver – Bucks County

2021 – $   90,000 – Convergence disorder and concussion following phantom vehicle crash – Dauphin County

2021 – $   80,000 – Fractured sternum, head on crash – Lehigh County

2022 – $500,000 – Pedestrian hit by truck pelvic fracture with surgery – Montgomery County.

2022 – $300,000 – Car crash with car trailer fractured ribs, knee and back pain – Berks County

2022 – $    15,000 – Motorcycle crash policy limits – Philadelphia County

2022 – $   42,000 – Car crash wrist bone fracture from airbags no surgery – Bucks County

 

Texting and Driving Has Replaced Drunk Driving As The Biggest Danger On The Roads

NeuwirthLaw Uncategorized

Texting and Driving Has Replaced Drunk Driving As The Biggest Danger On The Roads:

Texting and driving or any form of distracted driving is very, very dangerous.  It cannot be reiterated or repeated too many times.  I see a lot of car crash cases and people uniformly deny texting and driving or being distracted.

In the past year, drivers in my cases have testified under oath that they were searching for gum that they had dropped on the floor of their car, searching for dropped chicken nuggets, or searching in the passenger’s wheel well for a closed bottle of water.  It goes unstated that there was no reason to retrieve the gum or nuggets.  What were you going to do? Eat them? Off the floor? Or, why were you reaching into the passenger wheel well while driving?  It is more likely that each of these people did not want to admit that they were texting or on snapchat etc. and caused the crash.

A fellow lawyer, Joel Feldman, conducts a class for high schoolers called end distracted driving.  You can watch it on you tube.  Sadly, Joel’s daughter was walking in broad daylight down the shore and was killed by a distracted driver, who was fiddling with his gps.  Joel will come to most area high schools for this presentation.  It is truly upsetting and a wake up call.

The reality is that we see a lot of people driving and looking at their phones.  Drunk driving used to be the norm for people.  Slowly, with a lot of effort, drunk driving became socially unacceptable and has slowly declined as a cause of crashes, death, and injury.  Texting and driving has not yet gotten the same traction.

So, don’t text and drive.  Please.

Here’s another photo from a texting and driving crash.

Ouch. Don’t do it.

Ask Andy: Rear-End Car Accident, Sudden Emergency Defense, and Related Injuries

NeuwirthLaw Auto Accidents, Uncategorized

Transcript

Good morning and welcome to Ask Andy. This is a daily podcast about personal injury practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m Andrew Neuwirth, so I wanted to talk to you today about situations where you are rear ended in a car crash. Now the easy ones are someone you’re stopped at a red light and someone crashes into the back of you. What does that mean for your personal injury case? Well, first of all, I know this is kind of this is very basic to me, but there are two things I try and tell clients at the outset of these cases. One, You’re going to win your case, OK, there’s not going to be ever a discussion about who is at fault because there’s no excuse for running into the back of someone’s car. So these are the easier cases for lawyers in terms of, you know, the grand scheme of all cases possible. Now the caveat or the exception to that you’re going to win your case is if you’re limited tort, then you’ve got to show that you have serious impairment of bodily function, which is, you know, getting more into the harder lawyering and some of the proof and this and that in your medical records. So but in terms of the basic rear ended case, there’s never an excuse for rear ending somebody. I know that’s kind of basic to me, but you know, in terms of what the driver who hit you was doing, what were they doing? They weren’t paying attention or they were going too fast or, you know, any number of other things, none of which are OK.

So, you know, there are a couple legal aspects that play into this, but one of them is, you know, I’ve had situations where people are rear ended at fairly high speed because someone was driving along and they hit their brakes and they skidded on oil that they couldn’t see on the ground or on rain or on dirt. Or, you know, who knows what. But the law is exquisitely clear that, you know, roadway debris, roadway oil, rain these are all things that are not excuses for not being able to stop your car. It’s called the sudden emergency doctrine. And the only thing that really is known as a sudden emergency that is an exception for liability is if a deer runs out in front of you or something like that, OK? So absent the deer situation, you’re going to be responsible if you hit somebody from behind. And so in the person, in the vehicle that’s hit from behind, you know what usually happens to them? Well, oftentimes you were sitting there, you know, at the light weren’t really expecting you to be hit from behind. And oftentimes, the person who’s doing the hitting was expected to slow their vehicle down and was, you know, would have hit you at a lot higher speed than they would have normally had they been paying attention.

So, you know, what does that mean? That means that you take a fairly hard shot from behind when you’re in these rear vehicle accidents. I’ve had plenty of situations where there’s really minor damage on the on your vehicle and there’s major damage on the other vehicle. I’ve had situations where there’s minor damage on your vehicle and minor damage on the other vehicle, and I’ve had situations where, you know, people got hit from behind by a bus and the whole back of the car is destroyed. You know, one of the wrinkles in these cases is, well, what happens if a car two cars back runs into a car behind you and hits that car? And sort of, you’re the third car in the chain chain reaction? Excuse me. So what happens in that situation? Well, in that situation, the car that hits you is actually not the car at fault. Right? So is that car that hits you? It’s kind of the chain reaction car. Is that person liable or responsible in any way to you? And generally, the answer is no. Now, if you’re paralyzed or killed or have some, you know, tremendous injury, you know from which you won’t recover, then you know, we have to start looking at that in between car and see if there’s an argument to be made that they may have some liability, even if it’s only 10 or 25 percent.

But usually in between car and you are in the same situation, you were both hit from behind as a result of this negligent driver’s actions. Ok, but look, let’s say your full tort in your rear ended. You’re going to you’re going to win your case. End of story. Full stop. Just a question of of when and for how much. What sort of injuries occur when you’re hit from behind as opposed to as opposed to being hit from in front, well hit from behind injuries are often for some reason lower back injuries and rotator cuff injuries happen a fair amount and there’s a decent amount of concussions that come out of this. So, you know, basically the injuries sort of process that we see as lawyers following these, you know, traumatic car accidents is all of this energy from the striking vehicle ends up in your kind of passenger compartment and goes into your body and then passes through into the vehicle. So you just you take a pretty substantial shot of energy into your lower back and you’re kind of unprepared for it. People who are more prepared for it, like who brace themselves on the steering wheel because they see it coming, usually suffer kind of rotator cuff shoulder and wrist injuries because that energy goes through you and kind of transfers into the steering wheel that doesn’t have any give to it.

So look, that’s usually what we see in these rear end car accidents. They’re kind of the routine, easier accidents. You know, unfortunately, if you have, you know, preexisting conditions and you’re more at at risk in these rear end situations, you’re going to take, you know, a worse injury or a worse shot from the same amount of injury as somebody else would. So, you know, if you’ve got a prior back surgery or prior back hardware and all of a sudden you know you’re you’re hit from behind by someone not paying attention at high speed, you know, you’re going to you’re going to suffer more than than I might or someone else might. So, you know, that’s it. I think that’s pretty much the basic rear end car accident in terms of what happens during the lawsuit. You know, if we can’t settle the case, I’ll take the deposition of the person who hit you. And you know, the deposition is something along the lines of, you know, why this happened? Well, you know, I didn’t expect the light to change. Sometimes people I’ve had people say, you know, I dropped, you know, chicken nuggets in my lap or I was reaching for something on the ground or I just looked away for a split second. You know, none of that is terribly believable, and it’s an effort by the defendant driver to minimize one their conduct, even though their lawyer knows they’re 100 percent at fault.

And then they usually say, Oh, and the damage was minimal, which may or may not be true. And they also say the the driver of the car, I had looked fine. Ok, so it’s all an effort to minimize conduct that everybody knows is wrong. So, you know, why are they minimizing conduct? Well, in the deposition, all you really want to see is that you know what they’re going to say. I don’t, you know, I can test what they’re going to say. But the purpose of the deposition oftentimes is to get their story down on the on the transcript and know what they’re going to say for trial. You know, it’s not usually terribly impactful if the person is trying to minimize their negligent conduct. That’s sort of what I would expect. What’s more surprising sometimes is people come in and say, Yeah, no, I’m 100 percent of fault. Ok, thanks. And that’s actually an easier, more pleasant deposition. And it’s actually the truth. People who try and minimize are really trying to reduce their culpability, their blame worthiness, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, except it’s sort of human nature. I think, you know, you don’t want someone to tell you you did wrong. It’s very hard for people to appreciate that they’ve done something wrong and to say it or to admit it. But if you have a lot of insurance, then why don’t you just say, Yep, I’m at fault? End of story.

Full stop. Pay the insurance. I never quite understood why people with a lot of insurance, you know, fight with me on who’s at fault. So, you know, mostly it’s because they don’t want to admit they’re at fault or because their insurance paid for their lawyer and their lawyers tell them, Well, I’ll try and minimize your conduct. You know, I don’t really get why most people who say, Yep, I was at fault, my fault, I did it. That’s the easiest deposition for both sides, and it’s the truth. So as you work your way away from the truth, the depositions get more and more confrontational, contentious and really, frankly, you know, if you had someone from behind at high speed, you know, look kind of stupid in the eyes of just about anyone. So why not just, you know, admit your conduct and move on? So. That’s kind of my view of the rear end car crash. But these are the easy ones. We’re happy to handle them. Most of the times we take a real firm line on demand and what the case is worth. All right. So this is not legal advice. This is just me musing on my practice and what I see in Philadelphia car crashes. I hope you have a great day and we’re heading into a nice time of year here. So take care. I hold people accountable.

 

Ask Andy: Where Your Case is Filed Matters. Which County is Better For Your Case

NeuwirthLaw Ask Andy Podcast, Uncategorized

Transcript

Good morning, welcome to ask Andy, this is a daily podcast about personal injury practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m Andrew Neuwirth. I wanted to talk to you today about the venue or where you file your case and does it matter? Now this is kind of, you know, more of an inside baseball. Look at things, look at what I do. But I thought maybe some people would be interested in it. And certainly lawyers who are not specifically personal injury practitioners may, you know, be interested to hear what I have to say on the issue. So when your case comes in, we don’t really care too much at first about where it where it happened. You know, we’re just trying to get the client signed up, get the insurance company notified, get the facts down, get any videos, all that stuff. And then, you know, three to six months down the road. We have a better idea of what your case looks like in terms of injuries and hence in terms of value. However, at that point, you start thinking about the venue or where the case is going to be filed because it affects how we look at value. So value of your, you know, shoulder surgery in Montgomery County or in Chester County is different than the value of your shoulder surgery in Philadelphia County, both in my eyes and in the eyes of the insurance companies.

And when we get closer to settlement or mediation. So look, that’s just the way it is. You know, why that is is something we deal with in other podcasts, but the venue is determined by a couple of specific things. First. There are specific rules of civil procedure and laws about where cases can be venues, and primarily it’s where the plaintiff lives, where the that’s where the injured person lives, or where the injury occurred, to where the fall occurred or the accident occurred, or medical malpractice where the surgery occurred. And one other critical way is if it’s a business who caused the injury, then where the business regularly does business. Ok, so that’s mostly the state court rules. So, you know, you may have a case that occurred in Montgomery County that can be you can be filed in Chester County or wherever. But the other distinction that comes up is, you know, could you file in federal court vs. state court? And you can only really file in federal court for very specific purposes. One is you have an out-of-state defendant, so you know you’re hit by a truck that was driven by CVS. And CVS is basically a Rhode Island company that does a lot of business in Pennsylvania. Can you sue CVS in federal court? Yeah. Maybe you could. It just depends.

But you need to have someone from Pennsylvania citizens suing someone from a different state. So, you know, I have a case where we’re suing someone from outside the country. It’s a Canadian company. And, you know, the Canadian company could be sued in state court, but I’ve decided to sue in federal court. Now the question is why would you decide to sue in federal court as opposed to state court? And so this is kind of a venue question, but the short answer is federal court. If you can get in, there is much, much faster. It’s, you know, the federal court judges want their cases to move along. They have a smaller caseload than state court judges and generally the court system track in federal court is, you know, three to six to nine months as opposed to, you know, fifteen months to twenty four months to thirty six months in state court. That’s just kind of the way it is. That’s kind of the the state of play or the ground rules. Things are different during the pandemic, but if you want your case to move at light speed or as quickly as possible, you go to federal court. What are the downsides? So the downsides of federal court are interesting because if you sue in federal court, let’s say you sue in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, that’s my, you know, local federal court.

The Eastern District covers several counties, and remember how I said that you could get different values in different counties? Well, the Eastern District draws from a whole bunch of counties some Philadelphia, some Montgomery County, some Bucks and Berks and Chester. So there’s you’ll get and you have to think about, OK, I’m going to get a broader range of voters from some of these counties. Where traditionally jury verdicts are lower, but I’m also going to get some Philadelphia people mixed in, but I’m also going to get a much faster timeline. So do you want that? Well, it just depends on the case. You know, if you have a very strong case against an out of state or an out of country defendant and you’re pretty confident or I’m pretty confident that I’m going to one win the case for the client. And two, there’s not much decision making over what happens. So someone you know was in, you know, hit by a Canadian national train, and it’s the train’s fault and my guy is terribly injured. That’s a good case in federal court because basically you’re going to get to the decision point, you’re going to get either to settlement or jury trial in a very rapid manner. So some cases makes a lot of sense to do that. Other cases, you don’t want to do that.

And there’s a reason the federal courts are run according to a different set of rules and principles than state court. So federal court in Pennsylvania in the Eastern District has to follow Philadelphia or Pennsylvania law on basic terms like, Well, what’s the law about seatbelts or what’s the law about police reports? Or What’s the law about evidence to a great extent. Federal court will follow rules from Philadelphia, but there are times when federal court will look to other federal courts, and those federal courts are less receptive, in my view, to personal injury cases. Federal courts are meant to handle kind of larger, oftentimes, you know, very complicated questions of national importance or questions of state versus state importance, and they’re less concerned with handling your average everyday personal injury case. So, you know, do you get a less receptive hearing in federal court? Just depends on on, you know, kind of what kind of jury you end up with. But generally, you know, you’re going to get a lower value is upon first impression. So, you know, that’s a consideration. But if your goal is to get your case, if your injury is completed, meaning you had a fracture that’s healed or you’ve got a permanent, you know, whatever it is, you lost an arm and you want your case resolved faster. That case should go to federal court.

If it’s a possibility now, a lot of cases just can’t go to federal court. If you’re hit by a guy down the street and both of you are Pennsylvania residents. You can’t go to federal court. Federal courts only open to cases where there’s someone from out of state. And you know, there’s a lot of kind of law school reasons for that. The basic one is the Canadian company, for example, in my earlier example, doesn’t want to be kind of the victim of kind of home teaming. They don’t want to be victimized because they’re not Philadelphians. So the federal court system allows a foreign state resident or a foreign nation resident to take the case to federal court. And federal court is supposed to be a little less kind of thumb on the scale for the local resident. Even though, you know, I think in reality, as lawyers, we don’t really find that there’s much of a, you know, thumb on the scale for the local resident in any way. But that’s the the whole setup of the federal system is is to avoid a kind of discrimination in a, you know, lawyer’s sense against out of state or out of country residence. So look, that’s the kind of the bottom line is I have cases where, you know, one of the big decisions in the case is where am I going to file this thing? Do I want to file in state court or do I want to file in federal court? The preference in my practice and in my opinion, is always to file in Philadelphia County, the Court of Common Pleas, the state courts.

But there are times when you know, filing it in federal court is going to get you a faster resolution. What happens like, I have a case where I’m filing, you know, I just filed recently where the incident occurred in Berks County. Berks is a fairly conservative jurisdiction in terms of values, so I have the opportunity to file in federal court and I chose to take that because one I’m going to get a mix of jurors from other places besides Berks County, and I’m going to get a very rapid resolution and. The rules allow me to do that. But is it a big decision in the case? Yeah, it’s a big decision. You know, in the grand scheme of things. And then as a lawyer, I’ll tell you how I treat cases in federal court slightly differently than I do in another podcast. All right. So this podcast has been sponsored by my law firm. It’s new law office where a King of Prussia, a personal injury case handling law firm and I hold people accountable. Have a great day. Thanks.

 

Ask Andy: Do I Have A Case? How a Personal Injury Lawyer Decides Whether To Take A Case

NeuwirthLaw Ask Andy Podcast, Case Matters, Uncategorized

Transcript

Good morning, and welcome to ask Andy, this is a daily podcast about personal injury practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m Andrew Neuwirth. This is not legal advice. Good morning. I wanted to talk to you about today, whether you have a case. So sometimes people call me literally from the Schuylkill Expressway, which is, you know, the highway running through the middle of Philadelphia saying I was just in an accident. Sometimes people wait a week or a month before calling. I don’t know quite, you know, the functioning of everyone’s mindset about things. Sometimes if you’re badly hurt, you pick up the phone and call a lawyer. Sometimes if you’re not, you wait a little bit. And if things don’t get better, you call a lawyer. So the question today is, you know, do you have a case? This is kind of a simple one for me and maybe a harder one for people who aren’t used to dealing with lawyers or the legal system. So let’s say you are not at fault, meaning you don’t think you’re at fault or there’s no possible way you’re at fault and you’re injured. Do you have a case? Yeah. Is it a case a lawyer is going to want to take? Not necessarily. You know, do you have a booboo? Do you have a twisted ankle? Do you have a sore wrist? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends. What about situations where so what are the easy ones? Easy ones are, you know, you’re driving along and someone runs a stop sign and hit you.

They T bone you. You’re injured, you’re rear ended. Someone crosses the line and hits your head on, or someone makes a left turn in front of you when you had a green light and they had no right to turn those. The left turn situations are a little more confusing for people because they can’t really usually imagine that scenario happening. But if you’re driving straight and someone turns across traffic in front of you, let’s say to enter a highway entrance and you’re just driving along, minding your own beeswax and you hit them, that’s still their fault. So, OK, those are the easy ones. Let’s say you weren’t really hurt in any of those cases. Do you have a case? Well, yes and no. Yes, you have a case, meaning you were not at fault. But no, you know, it’s not one that may be worth bringing, but and a lot of those situations, at least the left turn cases and the T-boned cases, most people, you know, take a pretty severe impact and they’re pretty hurt. So, you know, do you have a case? Yeah, probably. Is it worth pursuing? And here’s kind of the question. This is kind of where it’s, you know, you’ve got to step out of your own profession and place in the world, whatever you do for a living and say, you know, look, I don’t, I don’t. I’m not a professional at this. I don’t know what I’m doing. So this is kind of the sales pitch for lawyers everywhere is, Hey, look, if you’re not a lawyer, at least go to a lawyer.

You know, at least in personal injury, it’s free to talk. It’s like there’s no fee. A lot of lawyers who do employment law or do trust in the states or this or that charge for their time, meaning they charge you to, you know, initial consultation fee. I don’t do that. I don’t know any personal injury lawyer who does that because it’s really hard to give you advice until we’ve kind of heard the whole story and figured out what happened. So we just don’t. That’s not how we get paid. So look, if you’re trying to decide, do I have a case, I think the right answer from any lawyer is, I don’t know. Give us a call. Hit us up through the website. You know, email me or anyone else, and we can talk about your situation. So that’s kind of the first step is like, Look, this is not something you want to be Googling to try and figure out if you have a case or not. Or, you know, a lot of times people come to me and they and they’ve decided they don’t have a case. And that’s kind of in their own mind. But actually, they do. They just don’t have enough professional training to realize what they have. Ok, so look, don’t make up or down, yes or no decisions without consulting with a professional. Just because you talk to me and I tell you have a case doesn’t mean you’ve got to sign up and be a client.

And a lot of times I tell people like, I can’t be your lawyer. I don’t work in New Jersey or I don’t work in Delaware. So look, there’s all sorts of different parameters, but back to do. I have a case. What’s the next? So the big question is always like, were you at fault? You know, if you’re in a four way stop and everyone’s kind of waiting for the other person to go and then someone goes and they cause an accident like, you know, those cases? Yeah, maybe. Do you want to be taking them on a regular basis as a lawyer? Probably not. You know, red light green, light red, light yellow, light green light, those. Cases are not necessarily great cases, but they’re possible. Excuse me. And then the question is like what level of injury do you need to really have a case worthwhile to bring? That’s kind of backwards English. But you know, look, I handle a lot of what the general population calls soft tissue injuries, but most, if not all, of my soft tissue injury people will tell you that they’re in a lot of pain and they don’t want to be soft tissue injury clients. So look, do you need to have something broken? No. Does that make things easier for me? Yes. Do you need to have you know, something severely wrong. It just depends on your definition that’s again sort of wandering into the area of personal judgment.

So what’s enough? Well, look, a sprained ankle is not enough. A sprained back, probably not enough. But, you know, do I take cases where someone had a sprain back expecting that they will not improve because they were in a very serious accident and then they get better? Yeah, that happens. That’s just part of what I do is I kind of got to take you on at the beginning of the case and guess at how you’re going to be. And then we sort of see what happens as time goes on and as you get treatment and as you hopefully get better. If you don’t get better, you got a bigger case. If you do get better, you have a smaller case. Do you still have a case? Yeah. If I took you on, you’ve got a case because, you know, at the end of the day, you’ve got to remember that I don’t want to take a case that I’m going to lose because that’s bad for business. One, it makes you unhappy as a client. Two, it means I don’t get paid because I only get paid at the end of the case. So, you know, no lawyer worth their salt wants to tell you that they have you have a case if you don’t OK, because it’s bad for business, it’s bad in any number of ways for business, lawyers will take cases because they think there’s a case and there’s not.

Lawyers will take cases because they made a bad decision. I’ve taken cases where I’ve been wrong about the case, but I would have taken the case again. But you know, do I have a case? The combination of what makes a case is one someone else at fault, not 50, 50, not 70, 30. Someone else got to be pretty much, in my mind, 90 percent at fault. Second, you have a serious injury. Yeah. Well, what’s a serious injury? How do you know? Well, you know, on the day of the incident, you don’t really know, you know, does a serious injury mean you have to go to the E.R.? Well, that’s what a defense lawyer or insurance company will say, but that’s not necessarily true. Is going to the ER an indication that someone at the scene thought you had a serious injury? Oh yeah, it is. But a lot, I would say 90 percent of my clients go to the E.R. and are discharged. Does that say they don’t have a serious injury? No. What does that say that says that the E.R. did not think they needed to be admitted to the hospital? Ok, that’s it. Hospitals are busy places. ER’s are busy places. They try and keep their census or their count down, so they have room for more serious cases coming in. And if you are not in need of surgery or you’re not, you know, hemodynamically unstable, you’re not going to get admitted. They’re going to send you home with pain meds.

You know, a lot of injuries from car accidents take a few days to develop, and sometimes they don’t get better. Does the E.R. know how you’re going to do in the future? No, they know. Do you need to be admitted that night? So, you know, the next question is, well, is it serious? If I went to the ER and I was discharged? I don’t know, is it serious if I didn’t go to the ER again? I don’t know. What do I know? What I know is that injuries get progressively worse over the first three to five days after a car accident. That’s when the pain is worst. And then you start to figure out what’s really wrong with the person. Now look again. The fractured sternum, the fractured wrist, fractured knee, concussion. These are all things that are clear and fairly obvious from the outset. Every lawyer is going to take that T-boned fractured wrist, rear ended and, you know, injured left knee, something like that. So the decision about whether you have a serious injury or not is, you know, yeah, it depends on the medicals, but it’s also one of those professional judgement things. So what happens a year or two from now when your case is near settlement is we try and put a value on? Are you going to win at trial? Meaning, you know, are you going to win your case? Ok, well, how do we know if we’re going to win our case or not? Well, if the other side was at fault, we know we’re going to win.

Ninety nine percent of the time, you know, you’re going to win your case. All right. So you’re on the eve of trial. Put yourself in my shoes. You’re on the eve of trial, two years after the car crash, and the defense lawyer says we’re going to admit liability, meaning, yeah, they’re going to admit their guy’s at fault. They know the jury is going to come back against them. Their only question is, you know. What’s the case worth? That’s what they’re going to put to the jury. Do you want to be standing there about to give an opening statement to the jury when your client had a twisted ankle or a sprained wrist and is better after four weeks of treatment? Pregnant pause. No. What the hell you been doing? You spent ten thousand five to ten thousand and two years with your client for something that’s minimal, so you don’t want to be trying that case, you want to be settling that case, or maybe you don’t want to be taking that case at all. Now think about that situation. You’re about to stand up and go walk in front of a jury and ask them to find for your client. And it was a T bone left turn crash and your client had a fractured sternum, which is, you know, the bone that holds all your ribs together in front of your chest and a bone that can take a fair amount of impact and trauma and you’re about to stand up in, the defense lawyer says, OK, OK, we’re going to admit liability.

Same as before, meaning they’re at fault, but they don’t believe your case is worth four hundred thousand. They only want to pay you forty thousand dollars. Is that a case you want to be standing up in front of a jury for asking for the big bucks? Yes, absolutely. Two years. Was that the right decision? Yes, it was. So as the client? Do you know you have an injury? Yes. Even at the time of the incident, you probably know you have an injury and you know you’re not at fault. So should you go see a lawyer? Yeah. What about if it’s just a bruised sternum? You know, look, that’s a professional judgment on the lawyer’s part. That’s not for you, the client to make the decision. So go talk to your lawyer. That’s kind of the best advice is always go seek out professional advice. It’s free to talk and that’s about it. So I’ll do some more this week on, you know, do I have a case? Anyway, that’s enough for today. This is not legal advice. This is a sponsored by my law firm, Neuwirth Law Office. We are a King of Prussia, suburban Pennsylvania law firm with a lot of cases in the counties and in Philadelphia proper. I hope you have a great week. Take care. This has been. Ask Andy. I hold people accountable.

 

Ask Andy: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Lawsuits

NeuwirthLaw Uncategorized

Transcript

Good morning and welcome to Ask Andy. This is a daily podcast about personal injury practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I’m Andrew Neuwirth. This is not legal advice, but hopefully it is somewhat helpful. So we are very close to approaching 10,000 downloads for the podcast, and I greatly appreciate that. If you are interested in cotton gloves, I give away cotton gloves and hand sanitizer with my firm’s logo on it. If you want that, send me an email. Give me a buzz. Something. So I wanted to talk to you today about a uniquely kind of cold weather month thing, which is carbon monoxide poisoning. So carbon monoxide poisoning is generally kind of easily avoided in theory by having a carbon monoxide detector, which reminds me I got to go put mine in because the winter months are here. So carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that has a lot of really ugly kind of effects on the human body. So briefly, carbon monoxide is not carbon dioxide, which is what you breathe out. Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels, so burning oil or natural gas smoking, actually. But basically, the problem with carbon monoxide is it prevents your body from carrying oxygen. So, you know, where does this happen? What is there to watch out for? Well, first of all, the most common incidents we see are people doing things that are not too, you know, bright or should give you pause.

Like, don’t run a frickin generator inside your garage. Don’t heat your home from your stove. You know, these are sort of things. Sometimes in poor areas, people can’t afford their heat, but the gas is cheap, so they run their stove to keep the house warm at night. I don’t know the whole generator in the garage thing. I never really understood that, you know, people commit suicide with carbon monoxide because it’s basically, you know, you just fill your garage with gas and it’s kind of a painless way to die, I guess. But it is that lethal that if you inhale enough of it, you will die. So what are the situations that I encounter that a personal injury case as well? The majority of them and I sort of handle one or two of them a year is where furnaces and hot water heaters or boilers in your basement are not properly vented or not properly set up, and this is something you’re just not going to kind of as a layperson, unless you’re an HVAC guy or gal, you’re not going to be able to figure out what the problem is. So that’s why you’ve got the CO detector. What’s the problem that you can’t figure out? Well, the problem you can’t figure out is that there’s a certain BTU rating on your furnace that heats your home. There’s a certain BTU rating on your hot water heater.

There’s, you know, a certain BTU rating on your washer dryer and all your appliances in the basement. Ok. When you put all those things together, you know, maybe you need one hundred and fifty thousand, you’ve got one hundred and fifty thousand BTUs. Those BTUs put out a certain amount of carbon monoxide. That carbon monoxide is poisonous. So what do we do with it? Well, it’s supposed to be vented through the flue in your chimney and out to the fresh air, and then you don’t have to worry about it if it’s properly vented and the system’s properly set up, no big deal. So, you know, when do I get involved? I get involved when someone doesn’t set their system up properly. The HVAC guy who installs a new furnace or boiler doesn’t calculate the BTUs and the needs of the room. Oftentimes, you know, in easier examples, when you shove the furnace and the hot water heater in a small closet, there’s not enough fresh air in there for the system to function properly, and it starts kind of gassing carbon monoxide into the space. And then all of a sudden, you know, it’s circulating hot air, but it’s got hot air with carbon monoxide in it. You don’t want that. So, you know, that’s kind of the function of what what is happening. That’s bad. The CO detector should alert and tell you to leave. The treatment for carbon monoxide poisoning is very simple.

The basic treatment is fresh air, so open the windows go outside. That’s what 911 will tell you. They’ll tell you to go outside. Now, what of this kind of more scary situations are when you get a big dose of carbon monoxide and you’re asleep and it’s cold outside and you have your windows closed, you know, pretty quickly, a situation can go from bad to worse to dangerous. So I had a case, you know, a bunch of years ago where there was a exactly what I talked about a poorly vented HVAC system. It was throwing carbon dioxide into a small house. A guy was asleep. He was unconscious. Basically, he was asleep, but he was super nauseous. He went to the bathroom to throw up. He just thought he had had some bad food at night, and it turned out it was carbon monoxide poisoning that was making him nauseous. And then his daughter had the same symptoms and they were basically, you know, semi rendered unconscious, fell down the stairs, crawled outside. And ultimately that became a case because, you know, the system was poorly set up and there was a pretty serious injury. Now what’s the injury that we worry about? Well, the primary injury we worry about in these situations is short term memory loss, and it’s a very hard thing to put a finger on for the lawyer because, you know, most people don’t have a baseline, you know, memory test before the poisoning incident.

All the client can usually tell you is I’ve got short term memory loss. Ok, well, how do you, you know, kind of playing devil’s advocate as the lawyer waiting for the, you know, trying to evaluate the case like, well, what else do you got? Because, you know, that’s something that anecdotally is fine. Like, you can tell me a lot of people clients will tell me, for example, like I can watch a movie like, I’ll watch The Shining and then I’ll three days later, I’ll say, Hey, it’s around Halloween, let’s watch The Shining. And the family will say to me, we just watched that two days ago, and I’ve totally forgotten about it. And it’s not just old age forgotten about. It’s like something that, you know, I knew a guy who who was a cook, and he said, I can’t remember recipes anymore, and that’s my job to be a cook. That was a problem. So and that was, you know, from carbon monoxide poisoning, potentially. So, you know, there are other kind of diffuse or nebulous effects, but the primary one is short term memory loss because for whatever reason, the carbon monoxide hits the area in your brain that forms short term memories, not long term. Another problem is that people who are have poor lung function or a preexisting lung condition that can be affected people with a preexisting heart condition can be affected because the carbon monoxide prevents the heart muscle from collecting oxygen properly in the heart muscle than is injured.

And in a normal person, that injury can recover. But in, you know, a heart compromised person, they can’t. So, you know, people with prior cardiac problems or prior lung problems will suffer a much worse injury for the same dose of carbon monoxide. For some reason, children don’t get affected as much. I don’t know if it’s because they have faster breathing or shallow or breathing. I don’t really understand that as well. But, you know, a lot of times with carbon monoxide poisoning, you’re going to see basically a short term memory loss from, you know, a pretty solid dose of carbon monoxide. The challenges for the lawyer are that, you know, if the treatment is fresh air, then by the time someone gets to the hospital, they’ve been breathing either oxygen from EMS or fresh air, from driving to the hospital. And they’re the actual readings that reflect the poisoning are far lower than they would have been had they, you know, breathed into a detector at their house. So, you know, it’s an interesting little conundrum. You’ve got to kind of work back and figure out what someone’s actual dosage would have been. And sometimes you can look at symptoms, you know, was there loss of consciousness? Was there, dizziness? Was there nausea, vomiting? How long had this been going on? All sorts of small facts become significant in the context of that carbon monoxide poisoning.

Basically, you can sort of figure it out. People will recover usually from the initial effects, you know, within 12 to 15 hours as long as they’re given, you know, full dose of oxygen. Sometimes people who are in real distress are put in a hyperbaric chamber, which they use for like divers. And, you know, periodically there are cases of death. When I was a kid, there’s a Vitas Gerulitis died because his pool heater. He was a pro tennis player at the time. His pool heater was poorly vented and he fell asleep in his pool house and he died. Sometimes, you know, in the more northeast PA regions where people are living in trailers, sometimes a poorly vented trailer that needs, you know, kerosene heat or, you know, propane heat will will sometimes die of carbon monoxide poisoning. So that’s pretty much, you know what to watch out for. The bottom line is get your system checked if you can afford it regularly. If not, get a carbon monoxide detector, and hopefully you will be OK. All right. Have a great day. This has been Ask Andy. This is sponsored by my law firm and Neuwirth Law Office in King of Prussia. We are in a suburb of Philadelphia. Have a great day.