They Say Imitation... We See You Looking Carolina Law Group

They say imitation is the best form of flattery. As I watched the morning news at my home in Greenville, #yeahthatGreenville, I always like to compare my fellow lawyers' commercials against our own. Yet this time,  I thought I was actually watching our commercial and found myself doing double takes.  

The first commercial is one Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC put together back in September 2014, with the help of our advertising team Martin Holland Advertising. We were so proud of this commercial and got such a positive response from everyone in the community for raising the bar on lawyer advertising. We should have known, creativity is hard to beat. Best to just imitate it. 

The second commercial was the commercial I saw recently (January 2016), by Carolina Law Group. I know those guys. I like those guys. I am simply calling them out. If I was a rapper, I would rap about them in my next song. ( I just watched "Straight Outta of Compton"). Wait, maybe I am a rapper. 

***Best if Hummed with Boyz-N-The-Hood*****

"Lawyers-N-The-Hood"

Woke up quick at about nine
Just thought that I had to be in Greenville soon
I gotta get to court before the day begins
Before the Judge pulls up in his Benz
About to go and darn near went blind
Young Lawyers on a commercial throwin' up lawyer signs
Ran in the house and grabbed my phone
With my finger on record, Im going to call out these clones
Decided to use the Internet as my weapon
Just as I thought, the Carolina Law Group kept steppin'
Jumped in the Audi hit the juice on my ride
I wouldnt know what to do w/ front back and side to side
Then I let Sirius Radio play
Bumpin' Backspin playin NWA
It was "Gangsta Gangsta" at the top of the list
Then I hummed my own song, it went somethin' like this:
 
Cruisin' down the street in my fourteen'
Listening to my wife saying don’t be mean
Went to E. Washington Street to get the scoop
Carolina Law Group out there cold shootin' some hoops
When the Audi pulls up, who can it be?
Nihar & Monty saying, I wish that was me. 
I rolled down my window and showed them my phone
It's all about makin' that imitation/clone. 

 [Chorus]

 
Cuz the lawyers n tha hood are always hard
You come talkin' that trash we'll call the Bar
Knowin' nothin' in life but the laws & writs 
Don't imitate us Carolina Law Group because that aint legit. 

 

 

When Do I Hire an Attorney vs. Handling It Myself?

Through various avenues and referral sources, I often times get some interesting questions about "potential" cases. Lately, I have been looking over my shoulder for the hidden camera or wondering which one of my friends in playing a joke on me. I'm not sure it's a result of our litigous nature, the dying art of customer service, or people just dont have time to properly deal with issues that arise.

So enter my quick 3 step process to determine if you need a lawyer.

1) Are you dealing with an insurance company or adjuster?

     - YES, you need a lawyer.  Insurance companies make money off of the money they don't pay out in claims. You obviously have a claim and they want to minimize the payout to you regardless of how nice they may initially seem. 

     -Just ask yourself this: "Would you listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven? Then why would you listen to the insurance adjuster about how to settle a claim against them?"--Trey  Mills

2) Are you dealing with a rude employee, disgruntled employee, or frontline of a company?

      -Probably Not. You need to make sure you document whatever the situation may be. Then reach out to the next level of management or ownership. If the wrong, or negligent act, that has been committed on you is not addressed by the next level of management or ownership then you need to determine the damages you have incurred. If those damages are simply hurt feelings and/or pride you don't need a lawyer. If those damages are monetary and amount to more than a few thousand dollars then you may need a lawyer. If those damages are less than a few thousand dollars you may have alternative routes such as Magistrate Court, or Small Claims court. (Charleston County has online FAQs) You do not need a laywer to represent you in Magistrate Court in South Carolina, or most states. Think Judge Judy but less dramatic, not on television, and not as timely. 

3) Are you trying to pursue a wrong from a company or person that has no assets, money, or insurance because "it just ain't right?" 

    -Probably not. You have certainly heard of the term, "You can't get blood out of a turnip." If not click on the previous link and don't tell anyone you didnt know that. When I question the viability of a case or know that there is little to be gained from it, I request a retainer fee. That fee may very depending upon the case but it is usually at least $2,500.00. Are you willing to spend that much money to pursue your case? If not, then you don't need a lawyer. 

When you have performed this quick 3 step analysis and determined you need a lawyer, reach out to one. We don't bite.

We represent clients  that have been injured at work, in wrecks, dog bites, slip and falls, nursing home abuse cases, and product liability claims arising out of South Carolina and Georgia.  Call us toll free at 1-800-483-0880, contact us on Facebook, Twitter, or just stop by. We offer free consultations to determine if we can assist with your legal needs. 

Tort Reform Results: Higher Insurance Profits, Lower Patient Safety Initiatives & Higher Med Mal Premiums for Doctors

A recent Forbes article written by Steve Cohen entitled, "On Tort Reform, It's Time to Declare Victory and Withdraw", debunks the myths set forth many years ago when the catchy phrased initiative first started. Given the many states that have passed those "reforms", aka insurance company dream goals to make more money, quantitative information is available to actually measure results. Since many of you went along hook line and sinker, let's see what you have done to yourselves. Drum roll please....

  • FALSE: ER doctors had a fear of malpractice lawsuits and thus ordered unnecessary care causing wasteful healthcare spending and costing us all. With tort reform in place, ER doctors have not stopped ordering unnecessary care and raising healthcare costs.  

This Forbes article sites an investigating in The New England Journal of Medicine entitled, "The Effect of Malpractice Reform on Emergency Department Care" which determined:

BACKGROUND

Many believe that fear of malpractice lawsuits drives physicians to order otherwise unnecessary care and that legal reforms could reduce such wasteful spending. Emergency physicians practice in an information-poor, resource-rich environment that may lend itself to costly defensive practice. Three states, Texas (in 2003), Georgia (in 2005), and South Carolina (in 2005), enacted legislation that changed the malpractice standard for emergency care to gross negligence. We investigated whether these substantial reforms changed practice

RESULTS

For eight of the nine state–outcome combinations tested, no policy-attributable reduction in the intensity of care was detected. We found no reduction in the rates of CT or MRI utilization or hospital admission in any of the three reform states and no reduction in charges in Texas or South Carolina.

Mr. Cohen goes on to write that:

This latest study follows numerous others that deflated other tort reform myths: that making it harder for victims to file medical malpractice lawsuits would reduce the number of “frivolous” suits that “clog the courts;” that imposing caps on the damages victims could receive would reign in “out of control” juries that were awarding lottery-size sums to plaintiffs; and that malpractice insurance premiums would fall, thereby reversing a doctor shortage caused by specialists “fleeing the profession.”
 
None of these promised benefits became reality. That’s because the alleged problems were themselves non-existent. 
 
  • FALSE: Medical malpractice premiums will be lower for doctors with reform in place as insurance companies will pass along the savings. HAH! As a lawyer working against insurance companies,we all knew this was a scam but it was still shocking how many people believed it. 

 

While insurance premiums haven’t gone down, their price increases in tort reform states have gone up a little slower than in non-reform states – the lag is between 6% and 13%.  That hasn’t constrained the insurance industry from showing record profits.   Average returns for malpractice carriers hover around 15.6%, far better than the 12.5% for the property/casualty segment. And the malpractice insurers’ loss ratio – the percentage of claims to premiums — is a remarkably low 61.1%.

In 1999 the Institute of Medicine at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences published its seminal study,"To Err is Human",  which concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 patients are killed (and many more injured) in hospitals each year due to medical errors. That number – which is more than automobile and workplace accidents combined – doesn’t include deaths in doctors’ offices or clinics – such as the one where Joan Rivers recently died.  By 2011, a study in "HealthAffairs"  estimated the number of avoidable deaths was probably closer to one million.

It's unfortunate that so many Americans were duped by the evil insurance companies but there is still hope for change. Remind your legislative representatives that these myths have been debunked and tort reform is never a good idea.

The judicial system is in place for a reason and that is to allow a jury of your peers to hear the facts and evidence presented by our rules and make the most informed decision. 

Trammell & Mills Law Firm, LLC does not handle medical malpractice cases but we know several good law firms in the area that do, if you need assistance. However, we can not stand to see Americans constantly steam rolled by insurance propaganda. Start educating yourselves on the facts, not on the fluff and feel good. 

 

 

What I Learned from a Drunk Juror at the Esso Club in Clemson

The Clemson football team had the NC State game handled by halftime so my wife and friends convinced me that a walk to the Esso on this beautiful afternoon was a good idea. Trying to enjoy the time my wife and I have together with her out of nurse anesthetist school now and no kids, I obliged. The ladies were quick to try and find a restroom not made of plastic and almost full, while the men were expected to work through the crowd at the bar for adult beverages. Having attended Clemson, I was familiar with the Esso and strategic spots to approach for the best leverage and line of sight with the bartender. Not to mention, I could now afford to hold out a $20 bill.

As I approached my honey hole of a spot at the bar another gentleman in front of me turned around. I am about 6'2" and I had to look up a good many inches to him. He had apparently been there all day for this 3:30pm kick off based on the swaying motion I observed as he double fisted two orange Bud Lights. I was unclear of his intentions as he shouted and pointed at me saying, "I know your face!". I made some comment that I have a familiar face and he then asked if I was in sales. I said no and continued to try and get the drink order in. Then he said, "What do you do then?". When I said, "I am a lawyer." That seemed to help him clear all the clouds in his head and put it together as he shouted, "You're a *& liar!" Well, alcohol or no alcohol those are usually words that help escalate things and his three friends turned around and I felt my wife push past me in between us and start to divert the conversation.

We were both Clemson fans and I can not stand to see in fighting. I was relatively calm for the situation and simply asked why he would say that. He went on to explain in a round about way that he was a juror member on a recent trial I had in Westminster Magistrate Court in Oconee County where my two clients were liars. My bell went off then and I remembered his disinterested looks, attempts to raise my voice to wake him up during the trial, and total apathy in the whole trial process he was invited to participate in that work day. 

Realizing the gold in this opportunity to talk with a juror after a trial where inhibitions were low and honesty high, if not unfiltered, I asked what he disliked about the trial. He listed several things:

  1. The fact that he had to miss work to be there;
  2. My clients looked like they were liars; and
  3. I was an attorney willing to lie for them but in an educated way.

I tried to get him to be more specific but he could not remember the facts of the case or anything about the case. (It was a motor vehicle collision where the at fault driver pulled out into traffic and then immediately backed up into my clients after realizing he pulled in front of someone else. The insurance company for the at fault driver played hardball and made offers lower than the emergency room bills so we had to try the case). Plus if you have ever been in the Esso during a game, it can be difficult to carry on an indepth conversation. 

As I tried to pull more information out of him to improve my future chances of not being called a liar simply because I am an attorney, he finally softened up a little bit and said: "You know, I will give it to you though. You made me think. When I came in and sat down I immediately knew your clients were lying. (He made this decision prior to any parties being named plaintiff or defendant or hearing any attorney speak). He then said, "After you presented the case with your 'silver tongue', you had me thinkin...but then I just knew your clients were lying." 

I thanked the man for his feedback and bought him another orange Bud Light to go with the two in his hand. He quickly emptied one to make room for the extra and said I wasn't that bad after all. He told me not to worry because I still got paid and I quickly put that myth to bed to help him appreciate the generous orange Bud Light he had just received from the contingency fee lawyer that the jury found in favor of the other party. Which in laymen's terms means that lawyer (me in this case) didn't get paid or reimbursed for any time and/or costs in the case.

It gave me a fresh outlook at my cases and reminded me;

  1. We all are judged by our covers regardless of what the content may be;
  2. First impressions in trial are hard to shake; and
  3. You can't win them all (or over) but you can try the best case for your clients and still be called a liar by a drunk at the bar. 

Don't Listen to Insurance Adjusters or Friends When It Comes to Legal Advice

You have just been involved in a traumatic incident of some kind and now your world is turned upside down. You never planned on being:

  • injured;
  • unable to work;
  • permanently disfigured;
  • without an avenue for medical treatment;
  • no knowledge on how to get out of the hole someone, something, or some event has put you into; or 
  • what steps to take to get back before your world stopped. 

The next thing you do is communicate with family, friends, and/or co-workers. They know someone, read something, saw it on the Internet, watched "Judge Judy",  or have a "friend" themselves that has been through the exact same thing and this is what you .......STOP THE MADNESS!

It's great to have loved ones and I am sure they want nothing but the best for you but I don't claim to know everything about everything. I hire real estate agents to move property and tax advisers (Patterson Tax Service) to do my taxes even though I have had Real Estate and Tax classes in law school (which means I know enough to be dangerous to myself, or absolutely nothing). 

My common saying is, "You don't listen to the devil on how to get to Heaven, so why listen to an insurance adjuster on how to settle a claim against them?"  They are going to lie, or mislead you. You don't go to your opponent in the middle of the game and ask them how to beat them do you? NO! Stop listening to what an adjuster says about your claim. Talk to an attorney. You at least have recourse against an attorney if they give you incorrect legal advice. (You could have recourse against an adjuster but it is hard to prove). 

Likewise, stop listening to your friends give you "arm chair" legal direction on your case. Go talk to a lawyer. It is free to consult with a lawyer on most civil cases and no fee is received by the lawyer unless a settlement is negotiated or trial verdict rendered. Tell me who else you know works 100% on performance pay? Defense attorneys and insurance adjusters work hourly or salary and may get some kind of bonus based on performance but I would imagine 75% of their income will come to them regardless of how well they perform. 

I work 100% on performance and get close to 70% of my business from word of mouth based on clients, friends, family members, colleagues, and other professionals that are familiar with our firm's performance. Seek out the help you need from the right professionals rather than receiving the wrong information. You may not hear what you like but at least it will be an honest, experienced, and informed response looking out for YOUR BEST INTEREST

 

 

Do I Need A Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher?: Part 2-People

  1. Lawyers : As defined by Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Lawyers, also called attorneys, act as both advocates and advisors in our society. As advocates, they represent one of the parties in criminal and civil trials by presenting evidence and arguing in court to support their client. As advisors, lawyers counsel their clients about their legal rights and obligations and suggest particular courses of action in business and personal matters. Whether acting as an advocate or an advisor, all attorneys research the intent of laws and judicial decisions and apply the law to the specific circumstances faced by their clients.

 

  • You go to a lawyer when you have been injured by the act of someone or something, when you want to set up and conduct a business, enter into a real estate transaction, get a divorce, settle a dispute, seek Social Security Benefits, and other types of inquires as to your legal rights with any given situation. 
  • Lawyer's Pay: Some lawyers work by the hour, others by retainer fee, and still others by contingency fee.
  • Contrary to popular belief, lawyers don't hate doctors. Likewise, lawyers are men and women of faith and religion. (Now if a lawyer practices medical malpractice there is often times no love lost between those attorneys and the doctors they pursue). 
  • If you need a lawyer inquire with your state Bar organization, ie SC BAR, research on the Internet, ie Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and/or check your local Yellow Pages or Talking Phone Book.
  • Choose the lawyer and law firm you are most comfortable with.
  • An interesting article entitled "Investigation Confidential" about how to choose an attorney.