Friday, October 26, 2012

Is Your Family Safe From Storms?


As an injury lawyer, and a family man who sees tragedies every day, I try to help to prevent injuries, car accidents and even unnecessary insurance claims.  Some of you may find yourself traveling through storm-prone areas, or have beloved relatives and friends who do. You might want to share, or forward this article to them.

If you are indoors, as the storms approach: 
Put your cars in the garage to protect form hail and debris.
Get inside, and account for everyone and keep them close. 
Keep shoes or boots with laces snugly tied on everyone's feet. 
Move to an inside room, bathroom, storm shelter or basement. 
Keep your wallet, cash, credit cards and identification in your pockets.
Have a battery-powered radio, flashlights and charged cell phones with you.
Storms need not level your home to hurt you, many folks are injured by flying glass, boards and debris. Stay away from windows: If it is a minor storm there is nothing to see; if it's bad, you can't see at all.
Be aware that sky lights will often break in a hail storm or from thrown debris. 
Avoid using electrical appliances, bath tubs or showers should your house be struck by lightning.
Unplug computers and nicer electronics to protect from power surges.

If you are outdoors on foot, and taken unaware by a storm:
Cover your head to protect it from hail impacts, and seek inside shelter anywhere you can, even in someone's car.
Trees are not true protection: they are just lighting rods and shed limbs onto you without warning.

If the storm impacts while you are driving:
Admit you are caught, as you cannot outrun it, so just look for a safer place to stop driving.
A highway overpass, the inside of any open garage, a gas station, or even a car wash will do. 
Do not stop closely on the edge of the highway unless you have to, as other drivers may drive into the rear of you trying to follow brake lights.
Do not stop on a bridge or a very low area.
The windshield may not blow entirely out, but side windows often do.
The main idea in the car is to protect your eyes, so if possible, just lay face down in the back seat. 
Cover the eyes of any children in the car with a jacket or even your body.

There is a wealth of storm information, including handy disaster preparedness supply lists that can be accessed through 

No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



A recent case of a severe injury to a child at a daycare center I am handling underscores the importance of following the rules and regulations of Tennessee that are designed to prevent serious daycare injuries to children. 

The law states that, “Children must have adult supervision at all times.”

The supervision required at a preschool or daycare center is very specific:

“Children six weeks of age through two (2) years of age shall be within sight and sound of an adult at all times.” 

It requires that there be an adult/child ratio of 1:4 in cases of caring for infants 6 weeks to 15 months, and 1:6 for toddlers 12 months to 30 months. The ratio for 2 year olds is 1:7 and it increases to 1:9 for three year olds.

“Children three (3) years through five (5) years of age shall be safely protected by an adult in close proximity and not distracted by other tasks.”

“Children six (6) years through nine (9) years of age shall be protected by an adult who adjusts restrictions appropriately for different ages and abilities.”

“When infants are cared for in a center with older children, they shall not be grouped with children three years of age and over, and a separate area shall be provided for them.”

It has been my experience that many daycare owners are wonderful, caring people who love nurturing children. However, we parents know it only takes an instant for a child to be hurt severely in a daycare center. 

Proper supervision is the very best solution to ensure safety of children in a daycare center.

On weeks like Spring Break or Fall Break, the chance of injuries intensifies as school age kids, who are out of class, are often dropped off at their little brother or sister’s daycare center. 

No one cares for a child like a parent can, but you can help make sure your daycare center is up to code with a few questions. “How many children are you expecting today?”  “Which helpers are here today?”

Playground equipment is another problem, as it quickly can fall into disrepair.  Developmental appropriate playground equipment is important, as there should be a toddler swings for the younger children, as they can easily topple out of typical sling type swings.

Here are some of the equipment rules:

“All indoor and outdoor equipment shall be well made and safe. There shall be no dangerous angles, no sharp edges, splinters, nails sticking out, no open S-hooks or pinch points within children’s reach. Damaged equipment shall be repaired or removed from the room or playground immediately. Equipment shall be kept clean by washing frequently with soap and water. There shall be developmentally-appropriate equipment and furnishings for each age group in attendance. Individual lockers, separate hooks and shelves or other containers, placed at children’s reaching level, shall be provided for the belongings of each child, infant - preschool. In infant/toddler rooms, equipment and space shall be provided for climbing, crawling, and pulling without the restraint of playpens or cribs.”

Daycare injuries like fractures, choking, burns, auto accidents and being left in a hot bus or van can be prevented.

If these tragedies occur, seek the advice of an experienced daycare injury attorney.

Thursday, October 11, 2012



The time for “Trick or Treat” is nearing.  It is a fun time of year, when we hear the knocking of little goblins and princesses.
But, the knock on the door that no one wants is the sheriff, serving you with a civil summons regarding someone being injured on your property.  Since I have handled many premises liability injury claims, I want to make sure you never have to have a child hurt at your home.

These simple steps can help make sure your home is safe and assure your little visitors have a great time.

1.             Lighting:   Proper lighting shows hazards and indicates preferred walkways. It may be spookier to have it darkened, but you are better off with all available lights turned on.  Pay special attention to your side yards that lead to your neighbors’ homes.

2.            Pathways:  Make sure that you have clear pathways to your door. It is important to recognize that kids will not return to the street after every trick or treat.  Instead, they will likely walk to the neighbor’s home through your side yard.

3.            Yards:  Holes in the yard are invisible at night and should be filled in and leveled off.

4.            Steps:   Those older steps have that loose railing are a trap.  Picture a disabled grandmother moving on your property and you night notice hazards that you missed at first.

5.             Cords:  Electrical cords, even orange ones, are hard to see at night. Try not to have them in positions to have to be crossed.

6.            Saplings:   If you have recently put in young tree, the strings that hold it up are known trip hazards.  If they must be used, tie yellow caution tape on each string in multiple locations. This handy tape is available at local hardware and home improvement stores.

7.            Obstacles:    Spider webs, tunnels and so forth are really fun, but dangerous. Avoid anything that would trip a guest. Likewise, any string that hits an adult at neck level is a hazard.

You will probably never have a claim from an injury at your home, but if you do, everything you have done to assure safety will matter.  Have a happy and safe holiday.



As an injury lawyer that sees the results of horrific accidents every day, I understand the connection between speed and safety.
At just 60 miles per hour, you are traveling a surprising 88 feet per second! That is why many who cause accidents testify in my depositions, “I just never saw him!” That can be truthful.  They looked, but he was not there yet when they looked. 
Speed limits are back in the news again. Texas will have a speed limit of 85 mph for a rural toll highway between Austin and San Antonio.

The famously unpopular change to 55 mph (the “double nickel”) happened way back in 1973.  Up until then, most speedometers had a red line at 70 mph, if they had one at all.

If you have had a car with an 85 mph speedometer, you can thank the government.  In 1979, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) required speedometers to have special emphasis on the number 55 and a maximum speed of 85 mph. That has since gone by the wayside, much like the 55 mph speed limit.

Are there any states with No speed limits? There were.  Montana had a non-numeric "reasonable and prudent" speed limit during the daytime on most rural roads. The phrase "reasonable and prudent" is found in the language of most state speed laws. This allows prosecution under non-ideal conditions such as rain or snow when the speed limit would be imprudently fast.

In 1996, a Montana patrolman gave a speeding ticket to a man doing 85 mph and he was convicted. On appeal at the Montana Supreme Court, the Court reversed the conviction; it held that a law requiring drivers to drive at a non-numerical "reasonable and proper" speed "is so vague that it violates the Due Process Clause ... of the Montana Constitution". In 1999, as a result of that decision, the Montana Legislature established a speed limit of 75 mph.

Over in Germany, the autobahn has sections without any speed limit.  Actually, the accident rate is consistently lower than other super highway systems, including the United States Interstates. 
But on the autobahn in Germany, it is actually illegal to run out of gas. 

Thus, we fine you for going too fast, and the Germans fine you for going too slow. Drive safely!



In my over 16 years as an injury lawyer, I have heard every lawyer joke there is at least 50 times.  Some of these are funny, but often the pointed humor is found wrapped in a grain of truth.

Every so often, the Gallup Poll people seek peoples’ opinion on the most respected professions.  Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of folks admire: Nurses (81%); Military Officers (73%); Pharmacists (71%); Teachers (67%) and Doctors (66%).
Who are the least respected? Washington Lobbyists, Car Salesmen and Congressmen round out the lowest rung of the respect ladder.  But we don’t tell “lobbyist jokes” much, do we?  Lawyers are certainly close to the bottom. Only 17% hold attorneys in high esteem.  While 47% put them in the middle at “Average, a whopping 35% place members of the bar squarely at “low or very low.”

Why are lawyers not more respected?

Could it be the ads? I don’t do TV ads, but the high-volume injury law firms do. Some are downright silly, and almost all are annoying.  

Is it any wonder the word “greedy” seems to go naturally in front of the words “trial lawyers.” We hear all about the “hot coffee case” and we never hear about the facts of many tragic cases that do so much good.

For example, have heard this story?  A three-year old little girl leaned out of the passenger’s side window on a Ford pick up truck, and accidentally hit the “rocker” style switch, causing the strong power window to close, and killing her, before the parents could save her.
Manufacturers were well aware of the risks of rocker switches inadvertently closing if a child leaned on one (in 2004, seven children died in the span of three months) and even installed safer “pull-up” switches in the cars they offered to foreign markets. But it took lawyers and litigation for manufacturers to install safer switches herein America.

Other safety improvements include life-saving repairs to vehicle gas tanks, seat belts, side impact design, roof strength, tires, electronic stability control, door latches, air bags, power windows and seats.  All brought to you by your friendly, neighborhood trial lawyer.

Tennessee Uninsured Motorists Among Worst


If I told you that you had a 1 in 4 chance of winning $100,000.00, would it get your attention?

I though it might. What if it was reversed, and you had a 1 in 4 chance of loosing $100,000.00?
In Tennessee, it is now estimated that a full 24% (almost 1 in 4) drivers are Uninsured. How can this be? Liability insurance is mandatory now, right?

True. But that has not fixed the problem, and the bad economy has just made it even worse.  We are the third worse in the whole nation!

Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, senior vice president of the Insurance Research Council, stated, “Despite laws in many states requiring drivers to maintain insurance, about one in seven motorists [across the U.S.] remain uninsured. This forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all.”

In 2009, the five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates were Mississippi (28%), New Mexico (26%), Tennessee (24%), Oklahoma (24 percent), and Florida (24%). The five states with the lowest uninsured driver estimates were Massachusetts (4.5%), Maine (4.5%), New York (5%), Pennsylvania (7%), and Vermont (7%).
Is it any wonder I harp repeatedly on the importance of your carrying as much Uninsured Motorists (UM) coverage as you can afford? It is a very cheap part of your policy, and you DO need it. Let no one tell you differently.  You need it.  Your parents need it.  Your children who are driving need it.

So, what about the loss of a $100,000.00 I mentioned?

This kind of thing really happens:  Man steals car in car jacking, and speeds away. He blows down Highway 51 at almost 80 mph and hits a car sitting at a stoplight, knocking her car down an embankment.  He manages to travel on long enough to hit yet another car, running her off the road.  

Ladies in each car came to me individually to represent them for their injuries against the reckless driver.  However, their results were not equal. We obtained a settlement of $100,000.00 for the first lady through her own UM insurance.

I could not represent the other lady, who was also severely hurt. Why? She had no UM coverage.  She lost $100,000.00.

Please look at your insurance card right now, and make sure that it has “UM” or “UIM” on it. If not, buy it. If so, make sure you carry more than just the minimum of $25,000.00. That does not go very far when just the helicopter ride is over $10,000.00. And do not be afraid to use it, as state law protects you from being punished by your insurance company for it.  Drive safely!