Monday, October 26, 2015


A lawyer works for you. Therefore, since you are the boss, feel comfortable when discussing fees with a lawyer. There are several various types of fees that a lawyer can charge, depending on the type of case.
The kind of fee I charge is called a “contingent” fee.  I only get paid a fee in injury and disability cases if we win. Contingent fees — typically one-third of the settlement or judgment — opens the door to the court house for those who would be unable to pay thousands up front for any attorney. In workers comp, they are capped at 20%. In social security disability cases, they are capped at 25% up to $6,000 maximum. In some cases, contingent fees are prohibited, such as in divorce cases.
Because most lawyers do “bread and butter” type letters, advise clients, read leases,  and defend legal claims, hourly rates are the most common type of fee. Hourly rates will vary depending on a lawyer's experience, the type of case and location. Wall Street lawyers doing multi-million dollar mergers are going to be hugely expensive compared to a country lawyer handing a DUI in Tipton County.
The other issue with hourly rates is what you get charged for. Even phone calls to and from the lawyer are billed. This has surprised many people. Fees also are charged when the lawyer is driving to court, appearing, and returning to the office. This is called “portal to portal” and is not unusual, but is often unexpected. Since I focus on injury, death and disability cases, I hear from folks outraged about how their lawyer, “charges me just to talk to him.” Retainer fees are advanced payment based on an hourly rate. Clients put money into a trust or escrow account, and the lawyer deducts fees as services are completed. It may be a refundable or a non-refundable retainer, and the client should understand which it is on the front end.
Flat fees are usually charged when the services being provided are more predictable. It is important to ask the lawyer exactly what services and expenses are and are not covered in a flat fee. Some do simple divorces, DUI or other type cases for a flat fee. No matter which type of fee agreed upon between you and your lawyer, the agreement should be in writing.
In addition to a lawyer's fees, you might be expected to pay certain expenses. These should be discussed before hiring a lawyer, and the lawyer should be willing to provide explanations of these charges.
The expenses I routinely charge are medical records fees, filing fees, court reporters bills and expert witness charges. Lawyers can also charge for photocopying, long distance telephone, faxing, courier, postage, overnight delivery, travel and transportation.
The other day, someone called who hired a law firm off television. They were seeking a new attorney and in doing so explained that the attorney recommended a settlement that gave the attorney about three times the client’s share. It is important to know your lawyer’s philosophy early on, as that would never happen at my firm.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fatter Dummies for Crash Testing?


When crash test dummies were introduced over forty years ago, only about 15% of us were obese. Apparently, we have gained enough collective weight as a nation that we need heavier crash test dummies. In fact, the current statistics ranges from 30-40% of us are now obese. America leads the world often containing the highest percentage of obese people in the world.

As an injury attorney, I fully support crash testing of automobiles. Many changes have been made to vehicles and barriers as a result of these real world collisions.

Since so many drivers are now overweight, the first-ever adult obese crash test dummy was recently introduced. Weighing in at 273 lbs., and Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35, it is a big change indeed.

Changes that new testing will likely lead to are probably a decade down the road. This may be too late for many already. Some initial results of actual crash data are startling. People with a BMI between 30 and 40 are many, many times more likely to die in a car crash than fitter victims.

Sometimes improving protection for one group, like obese adults reduces protection for other populations. For instance, increasing air bags compression to deal with higher weight ranges might hurt shorter individuals or children.  Strengthening seat belts for heavier occupants might well increase chest injuries for the elderly osteoporotic bones.

In order to test cars in crash tests with realistic dummies, one must first test the dummies. To do this, they do the unseemly task of crashing human cadavers. A comparison of cadavers with dummies validates the crash injuries.

Obesity changes more than one might think. A seated obese person extends farther forward on the seat compared to a slimmer occupant.  Because this changes the seatbelt positioning, it is one of the many factors that must be considered.

A child dummy representing a 10-year-old child weighing more than 65 pounds was adopted several years ago.  This has been used to evaluate new safety requirements of child restraint systems, including car seats and boosters for that age and weight.

In the end, the more realistic the dummies the better the safety measures that are adopted. It's really all of balancing act. We would save a lot of lives if we required roll cages and five-point harnesses, such as you see in a NASCAR vehicle. But it's all a balancing act.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Phone Scams to Watch Out For

It seems like every year, there is another scam or two out there. Here are a few to be aware of. Share this with others and be sure to warn any seniors that might be targeted.
1. Bank Calls: Someone calls saying they are from the bank and that there has been some unauthorized activity on their account. All they need is “verify some information” to clear it up.
2. Medicare or Social Security: A caller says that they have to get something fixed in their computer so they need some information or they will not have Medicare or their Social Security checks will not be sent.
3. Hotel Scam: The phone in a hotel or motel room is called by what sounds like the front desk. They claim there is a problem with the computer system and that they have to manually reprocess all of the credit cards, or something similar. If you ever get a call from someone saying they are the front desk, hang up and call back yourself.
4. Credit Card Rate Reduction. This is the actual message you hear:
“Hi, this is Rachel from Card Services calling about your credit card account. It appears that you are now eligible for a significantly lower interest rate on your account. However, this offer is about to expire, so please press 1 now to be transferred to a live representative who can assist you in securing your lower interest rate.”
5. Fake Collectors: They want to collect on a debt your grandchild (supposedly) failed to pay. They ask you to wire money, send a prepaid card or give your credit card number – immediately. And if you won’t – or can’t – pay? That’s when the threats begin: “Your grandchild will be arrested.” “He’ll lose his job.” “We’ll suspend her driver’s license.” Unless you co-signed a loan, you’re never responsible for someone else’s debt. In fact, debt collectors can’t legally tell you that someone – anyone – else even has a debt. Don’t be rushed into sending money. Don’t verify any personal or financial information. And hang up if the caller threatens you.
6. Hijacking: You get a call saying someone has been kidnapped and you cannot call his or her cell phone to verify they are okay.  The caller will claim that your loved one owes some money and are being held and if you wire just $2,000 or whatever, they can go free, and if not, they will be tortured.  If you call your loved one, they are often surprised to learn that they are supposedly being held.
Hang up on these people and ask for help. Report these to the credit card companies and the authorities as appropriate.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TEEN DRIVERS: Are They Really More Dangerous?
The leading cause of death of 16-18 year olds is not so-called “assault weapons,” vaccinations, alleged climate change, video games, GMO food or all the other crises the news reports on every night.

It is automobile crashes. As an injury lawyer, it is a sad reality I live with each day.
Beginning teen drivers are, in fact, much more dangerous on the road than other drivers.  How much more? Those beginning drivers, aged 16-19, have the single highest crash risk per mile driven of any age group! Night driving for teens ramps up the rate by a factor of four! That is why their insurance is so alarmingly high.

Here are the factors that seem to contribute:

Speeding: It is no secret that teens have more risky behavior. The results bear this out, with about a third of accidents having excessive speed as a factor.
Seat Belts: The vast majority of teens killed did not bother to wear their seat belt. Why? It’s the law. It’s smart. But, many feel immortal as teens.
Distractions: Texting and driving is epidemic. Passengers do not just add weight to the vehicle, they also add distractions: Phones, video, laughter, horseplay, joking, screaming, hanging out windows the like can contribute to those group fatality accidents that scare us parents.
Driver Error: More than half of all fatal teen accidents are simply caused by bad or delayed decisions by the inexperienced driver.
So, are teens just bad drivers? Not really. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teens driving with parents in the car have a very low crash rate.

These factors and findings are part of the reason why graduated drivers licensing has been adopted in Tennessee. They deal with timing and passengers and allow more time for training. There are three phases:
1. Learner permit: Anyone under the age of 18 who has a learner permit will be prohibited from driving between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. When driving, permit holders must have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the vehicle with them.
2. Intermediate Restricted License. Family and one passenger, with time restrictions.
3. Full Drivers License.

What do you think about these laws? Are you as surprised as I am that we even survived our teen driving years? Restrict, teach, train, love and pray. Drive safely.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

Saturday, October 10, 2015



Accidents that are caused by drowsy driving are quite similar in evidence to those caused by drunken driving:

-No skid marks or evidence of braking;

-No evidence of evasion or swerving;
This is sometimes also what we find in texting and driving crashes as well.  Why do we have more drowsy driving car accidents?

-More people are sleep-deprived these days.  With the unusual work schedules now common at places like FedEx, the airlines, fire departments, and others, there are more people working at night than there once were.  Workers who have shifts at night have to fight the natural urge to stay awake during the day and sleep at dark. It takes time to get that reversed, so shift variations actually tend to hurt rather than help.

-School demands study time that usually winds up being at night. Many of us pulled all-nighters while in college or graduate school, only to find out that our performance actually suffered. Still, students like me who often worked and went to school were sleep-deprived for long periods.

-The faltering economy continues to create less jobs and more people have to work two jobs just to get by.  As a result, irregular work hours can create a tiredness that is hard to fight while driving.

-Commutes continue to lengthen. We have come a long way from the European standard of the shopkeeper working downstairs and living upstairs in one building. Currently, work is often a 30-45 minute drive away from home. That is plenty of time to get drowsy.

-Car comforts continue to expand. When I drive my old 1977 Ford pick up truck, it is a loud, windy and vibration-filled experience, even at modest speeds. In my modern vehicles, however, even at interstate speeds, vehicles are warm, smooth and comfortable. This tends to call on the Sandman much swifter than our old beaters would ever allow.
But, technology in some of the newest cars is trying to rescue us from ourselves. For now, it is luxury manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz that offer ways to wake you if your head bobs downward or you leave a traffic lane. Lane departure warnings are even now present in the Suburban models.

Driving drowsy is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk. Don't take the risk.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

"Thank you for your Service Veterans"

"Thank You for Your Service”

One day at a Grizzlies play off game I noticed how few people even put their phone down during the National Anthem. Many did not place their hand over their heart, take off their hats, or look at the flag. I guess I had not noticed it before, but I was disturbed. As an Eagle Scout, we were taught respect for the flag and those who fought underneath it. Holidays meant to remember and honor our vets like Memorial Day Weekend have become, for most of us, just a three-day weekend to barbecue and vacation.

It was supposed to be more. Here are some discussion points that you can bring up with family and friends to address how best to honor our veterans:

Memorial Day is the holiday in which we pay tribute to those who lost their lives in combat.

Veterans Day pays tribute to all veterans, living or dead. In the United States, Veterans Day is celebrated on November 11 every year, the same day that World War I hostilities formally ended (at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month).

Today’s military consists of an all-volunteer force. The U.S. military draft ended over 40 years ago in 1973.

26 of our Presidents came to office as Veterans, including William Henry Harrison, Ulysses S. Grant, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, and most recently, George W. Bush.

There are currently over 2 million female veterans in the United States.

More United States troops have died from suicide than have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.

From 2002 to December 2012, 253,330 service members were diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) of some kind.

As a result of battle injuries in the Iraq War, at least 991 service members received wounds that required amputations; 797 lost major limbs, such as a leg.

In Afghanistan, at one point, 724 service members have had to undergo amputations, with 696 losing a major limb.

The unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is reported as high as 10% — much higher than the national rate.

A military veteran somewhere in the U.S. attempts suicide at least every half hour, and one commits suicide every 65 minutes. 22 military veterans commit suicide every day. 31% of these suicides were veterans aged 49 and younger.

Veterans make up 12% of the adult homeless population. 70% of those homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse, while 50% experience mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which makes it harder to maintain relationships and hold down a job.

After watching the movie American Sniper, I felt again challenged to thank the Sheep dogs who protect the sheep from the wolves that seek to kill and destroy. We need them on that wall, and when some return (for not all will), we must respect, honor and help. Thank you Veterans. Thank you for your service. Thank you to the many families who did without them so they could stand for us. We are forever in your debt.

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
~ George Orwell

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.


Drunk Driving

I once had a comment on my blog from an active member of Mothers against drunk driving. MADD

She scolded me a bit for using the word accident to describe a crash involving a drunk driver that hit and injured my client. She went on to say that when someone drinks and then chooses to drive that everything that happens after that is intentional not an "accident."

I certainly sympathize with that point. My mother was almost killed by a drunk driver when I was just a child. In addition to the recklessness of driving drunk he also was cowardly and uncaring in that he and his buddies left my mother lying unconscious on the pavement and ran for their lives.

I also know that drunk driving tends to be a repeat offense type problem and thus how we characterize the offender has a lot to do with how I might feel about it.

Not to defend anybody but I think it feels different if we are talking about a person who is a well-educated person at a dinner party who has three or four glasses of wine over the course of an evening and hits a car at night with no brake lights on.

However, if I tell you that a man was driving recklessly through a school zone and hits children drunk at 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon and this was his fourth offense DUI it changes things.

Both are wrong. It is never okay to drink and then drive. And it makes sense. If you're in an airplane you don't want your pilot to have been drinking at all. Well, we are all on the road and we don't want anyone around us to have been drinking at all either. Cars kill more than planes ever will.

Unfortunately, many of my clients are hurt by drunk drivers. The drunk drivers tend to be very loose and most never are injured.  I also realize now that there is even a group called FADD or fathers against drunk driving.

The statistics on these issues are shocking:
Alcohol related crashes are the leading cause of death for young Americans, between the ages of 16 and 24 years old. For all Americans between 5 and 35 years of age, motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death. Alcohol-impaired drivers cause over 50% of these accidents.
Over 50% of all fatal highway crashes involving two or more cars are alcohol related. 
 Over 65% of all fatal single car crashes are alcohol related. 
Over 36% percent of all adult pedestrian accidents are alcohol related. 
80% of all fatal alcohol related auto crashes occur between 8 pm and 8 am. 
36% of all adult pedestrian accidents involve an intoxicated pedestrian. 

Every year, 708,000 persons are injured in alcohol related crashes; 74, 000 of those people suffer serious injuries. 

About 2,000 people are hurt each day in alcohol related accidents. Two million alcohol impaired driving collisions occur each year.
So when were watching the games, and we see you guys all clinging bottles of beer together and say "it doesn't get any better than this".  Just remember, the beer commercials never show those guys driving home. For that matter, alcohol commercials never show the winos in the gutter, the abused wives and children, the suicides, the fights, the vomit-coated jail cells, the liver transplant list, and the broken-hearted children who carry the scars of being raised an alcoholic home to future generations.
So for the safety of all of us on the road, if you must drink, get someone else to drive or stay home.

Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through wherein other articles may be accessed.

Friday, October 9, 2015


Not A Sue-Happy Person?

Lately I have been hearing this term more often, “sue-happy.”  As an injury lawyer, I am often contacted by potential clients that are very concerned about making any claims, because they don’t want to appear to be that type of person. I fully understand that.
Here is the funny thing…if you are worried about appearing as that “type” of person, you probably are not that type of person.  The folks that are looking for a lawsuit on every corner could not care less what is thought of them. 
Sue-happy people bring frivolous lawsuits. Examples of this include a man who sued a dry cleaners for millions when they lost a pair of pants. Ridiculous. I wish I had been able to be the judge at that moment. He would have never forgotten it.
It is cases like that bring disrepute on lawyers, the justice system and victims with legitimate, compensable injuries. 
Seldom do we hear about the cases that are settled. This is sometimes because we have to sign confidentiality clauses that prevent their discussion. Often, it is because they are quietly settled, without a suit even being filed.
Other traits bring disrepute on the legal system too. Obnoxious television ads by lawyers are constant. Unethical medical or chiropractor clinics calling injured people the day after a wreck.
The other day, a client came in having nine calls or messages on her phone after a wreck!
A real case, that is not frivolous, demands justice. Often times, this can be settled quietly without going to court. But is trial is necessary, honest victims should not have to apologize for simple making a claim that the insurance company often undervalues.
Many cases in my office have medical bills of $50,000 – $500,000, in addition to lost wages and disability, not to mention what they have been through. These claims, by people who hire me, are not brought by sue-happy people. Many times, they feel awful having to even make a claim.
It is a good reminder that our tort law derives from the Bible, and that there are right ways to go about it.

Liability Insurance Ends Punkin Chunkin

Since 1986, bored rednecks in Delaware have been tinkering with giant medieval trebuchet devices, catapults, giant slingshots, and even custom-built air cannons with enormously long barrels all to launch pumpkins staggering distances. 
The basic idea of this concept is to launch a pumpkin as high and far as possible. Then, trusted folks on ATVs ride out to measure the distance. Crowds often hit 20,000 in number. These events continued to grow in both the size of the crowds and the power of the machines, as the events were even featured on Myth-Busters and other programs.
But last year they cancelled the event. This year was cancelled, too. Why? The lack of a company willing to write the liability insurance policy ended the raining of pumpkins.
It seems that there was just one lawsuit regarding a serious ATV accident, and that was settled. However, liability insurance for this event had to be a stretch. As fun as “punkin chunkin’” sounds, and it seems like it would be great, insurance companies are not necessary in favor of too much “fun” if that fun will likely lead to injuries and lawsuits.
Liability insurance companies will tell you that numerous and serious claims involving death and serious injuries come from activities involving large, powerful machines, drunkenness, the presence of children and the use of motor vehicles.
Let’s analyze what they may be considering here:
·      Rednecks on ATVs in uneven fields? Check.
·      Large, powerful machines that swing counterweights that can kill? Check.
·      Giant, pressurized air cannons that can explode? Check.
·      Heavy pumpkins falling unpredictably from high in the sky? Check.
·      Is there a better than even chance that many of the yahoos involved in these admittedly fun activities are drinking or even totally drunk? Check.
It is rare for me to come down on the side of insurance companies since I feel like I sue at least one almost every week of my life, but I kind of see their point here. It is reinforced by the names and categories of record holders they list:
Adult Air Category:   American Chunker, Inc.       4694.68 ft.    
Okay, that is almost a mile! This Navy-sized pressured-air-gun shot a pumpkin almost a mile! But, notice that is only one category. In the “Adult Catapult” competition, the “Fibonacci Unlimited II” launched its gourd some 2862.28 ft., or about half a mile. Not to be out done, the “Adult Centrifugal” entry  “Bad to the Bone” hit 3245.58 ft.
Did you notice that there were “Adult” categories? So, yes, not only are children present, they actively compete. These future engineers enter youth categories that even include a “10 and under” class. Even the names they selected sound ominous: “Jersey Devil,” “The Plague,” “Stomach Virus,” and “Colossal Thunder.” (I will the “Snot Rocket” an honorable mention, as well).
So, insurance companies, who watch that profit margin very carefully, have effectively ended the reign--and the rain—of the pumpkins.