Tuesday, August 20, 2013



As an injury lawyer, I have handled many cases involving Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Often the diagnosis is not made right away, but only becomes clear over time.

I recall a particular workers compensation case I handled where a man was struck by a machine while wearing a hard hat. Even though he did not need a single stitch, that blow caused his brain to bleed. Over time, his personality changed radically and he became irritable, angry and lacked the ability to concentrate.  His memory became so limited that he would leave pots on the stove for hours and either double dose his medication or not take it at all. Eventually, that single blow caused him to become disabled.

Motorcycle helmet use is currently at issue in Tennessee. Some want to repeal the helmet ban and allow adult motorcyclists to ride without a helmet, like in Arkansas.  The National Institutes of Health said in Pennsylvania, after dropping the ban, helmet use among riders in crashes decreased from 82% to 58%. Head injury deaths increased 66%. Motorcycle-related head injury hospitalizations increased 78%. Helmet law repeals jeopardize motorcycle riders, and their long-term care for a TBI eventually falls upon all of us.

The very young and the elderly account for many TBI cases. Approximately 18% of all TBI-related emergency department visits involved children aged 0 to 4 years. Approximately 22% of all TBI-related hospitalizations involved adults aged 75 years and older.
Males are more often diagnosed with a TBI (59%). Blasts (such as IEDs) are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.  The NFL gridiron is also rife with head injuries. Over 3,000 players, spouses and other relatives or representatives are suing over TBIs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a few of the leading causes of TBI are:

Falls (35.2%) Falls continued to be the leading cause of TBI (35.2%) in the United States. Falls cause half (50%) of the TBIs among children aged 0 to 14 years and 61% of all TBIs among adults aged 65 years and older.

Motor vehicle – traffic (17.3%) Among all age groups, motor vehicle crashes and traffic-related incidents were the second leading cause of TBI (17.3%) and resulted in the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths (31.8%).

Struck by/against events (16.5%) Struck by/against events, which include colliding with a moving or stationary object, were the second leading cause of TBI among children aged 0 to 14 years, with 25%.

Assaults (10%) Assaults produced 10% of TBIs in the general population; they accounted for only 2.9% in children aged 0 to 14 years and 1% in adults aged 65 years old and older.

Very little is understood about concussions and other brain injuries. Some are not properly diagnosed. Tests sometimes do not show the injury. Insist on helmets for your loved ones.

Fact is, we might ought to all be wearing helmets all the time!


As an injury lawyer, I know that lawyers everywhere are know besmirched with the unseemly TV ads that seem to trip over each other in a race to the bottom of respectability.
But lawyers have done and still do a lot of good.  Abraham Lincoln was an attorney, as was Gandhi and Thurgood Marshall. Lawyers at their best harness the power of words and persuasion to move the hearer to truth.

Have you ever heard of George Graham Vest? Born in 1830, a lawyer as well as a politician, he served as a Missouri Congressman, and even a Confederate Congressman during the Civil War, and finally a US Senator. He is best known for his "a man's best friend" closing arguments representing the family that owned a dog that was killed named “Old Drum.”  Movies have been made about the trial, a monument stands to this day. Only a partial transcript of his words, spoken on October 18, 1869 remains.

If you are a dog lover like me, slowly read and think on the truth of his words that day:

“Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.
A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.
If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.”

The verdict went his way, and because this good lawyer spoke such truth, it resonates with us dog-lovers even now, some 144 years later.


Imagine loosing your son in a tragic car accident. It is the stuff nightmares are made of. It happened to a businessman in 2001, and he had to deal not only with the loss of his beloved son, but the handling of a complex wrongful death case as well.

At some point, a settlement was reached between several insurance companies, and the checks were cashed. Closed case?  Not so fast.

Apparently, there was still a dispute as to whether one particular policy applied to the deceased, and others in the car that survived appealed that issue. It had to be decided by a higher court on appeal, and that decision was handed down recently. They ruled the father had pay the other survivors some of the money back.

To protest what he felt was an unfair decision, he had a flatbed truck leave four tons $150,000 in quarters in the other lawyer’s parking lot!

He’s not the only one. One man reportedly received a $310.50 bill from city hall for having to cut his grass. The homeowner thought the bill was far too high, so he collected 31,050 pennies, weighing 170 lbs. and dutifully delivered them to City Hall.

Another fellow, mad about a parking ticket, paid his fine by writing a check on a strip of toilet paper.

Not to be outdone, the owner of a monument business once had a forklift deliver his check, etched in a ton of granite, to his local authorities.

Before you get any ideas, the city judges in most of these cases held these folks in contempt and fined them substantially more for their expressions of protest. Still, though, there is something satisfying about paying of a credit card and sending 25 cents extra, thereby costing them 44 cents to mail you a check back for the quarter.

Daycare Center Settles Disputed Case


I recently filed a case against a local Memphis daycare center alleging it failed to provide adequate supervision and staffing during spring break when several children were in their care. Holidays can mean special challenges for them.

Though the daycare center disputes all the allegations, we alleged that a three-year-old child broke his femur as a result of falling from a non-toddler swing after having been put into it by another child. The three-year-old was in a cast for an extended period but made a full recovery.
We arrived at a pre-trial settlement of $192,500.

Daycare centers are expected to do one thing and do it without fail: keep children safe. This is why we must have adequate staffing and supervision at daycare centers. If they can teach music appreciation, or creative art projects, all the better, but they are expected to assure the safety of children.

How do I find an attentive child day care center?
What is the ratio of caregivers to children? You will want to visit the childcare center while the children are there and active. Is the day care licensed, and by what regulatory agency in the state or county? Is there a file for each child that contains important contact, pick-up and health information?  Interview the childcare giver(s). Ask questions about educational background, length of employment and feelings about the facility. Inquire of whether or not background checks and drug screens are done as a requirement of employment at the childcare center. Ask to see the kitchen and nutritional inventory. You will observe for cleanliness and the variety of food choices.  Inquire as to where the children eat and how the food is served. Is there fencing around the outdoor play area? Do they transport? Who drives? What books, music, and toys are available, how are they cleaned and are they age appropriate?  How does your child respond to being left at the day care? When you pick your child up, is she happy or irritable? What interaction did she have with other children? What age were they? Many centers take kids 12 weeks to 12 years. How many adults can hold how many babies and look after how many kids? Are their remote viewable cameras?

I encourage parents to check the ratings of day care centers in Tennessee by logging onto the state website at http://www.tn.gov/humanserv/adfam/ccrcsq.html.

If you believe a child has been injured by negligence, seek counsel.