Articles Posted in Information/Personal Interest

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My partner, Brian Chase and I know a lot of attorneys. We work with attorneys throughout the country and refer cases to many attorneys. When we refer a case to another attorney or need the services of an attorney in a state we are not licensed in, we are very particular about who we send clients to and who we will work with. We want only the best and Ben Glass is the best that I know of.

I have known Ben Glass for some time now and he never ceases to amaze me. Ben is a straight shooting, down to earth, tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy who is also an excellent attorney and a father to seven children. Ben has written a number of books directed at educating the people of Virginia about their rights, including one about insurance company scams (“Robbery Without a Gun“), a book on auto accidents in Virginia (“Virginia Car Accident Book“), another on Virginia medical malpractice cases (“Virginia Malpractice Book“) and a bunch of others that I haven’t seen.
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Truck drivers may soon be mandated to install alarm systems in their vehicles to make sure that they remain alert while operating their vehicle, according to this KSL-TV news report. Federal investigators have repeatedly found that truck driver fatigue is a leading cause of fatal big rig accidents around the country. Federal officials report that one in eight commercial truck accidents are caused by exhaustion or the truck driver falling asleep at the wheel.

What the federal government is proposing is to require installing a high-tech alarm system that would go off when a driver gets drowsy. Dave Creer of the Utah Trucking Association says such a requirement would make things difficult and more expensive for trucking companies. When the government starts mandating something, he says, things get really tough for trucking companies across the board – whether it’s the little guy, the not-so-little guy or the big companies with the large fleets.

Statistics show that the people most often injured or killed in big rig crashes are the occupants of passenger vehicles not the drivers of the large trucks and 18 wheelers. There are nearly 12,000 injury (fatal and non-fatal) large truck accidents a year in California, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The alarm systems is designed to lower the accident rate and save lives. I see the possible lives saved as well worth the cost.
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Several consumer groups around the nation are urging California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign Assembly Bill, AB 2825, which is designed to protect California motorists from auto body repair fraud. According to this news report, the legislation has been passed by a strong bipartisan vote and will become California law after Governor Schwarzenegger signs it.

AB 2825 will essentially safeguard consumers from fraudulent businesses that illegally or unethically switch parts, causing financial loss and possibly vehicle safety issues for the consumer. This bill requires a vehicle repair invoice to specify if any used, rebuilt, remanufactured or reconditioned parts are supplied. Current law requires that consumers be provided an itemized written estimate prior to work commencing and a final invoice listing work completed and parts provided. But this AB 2825 also mandates that an automotive repair dealer must attach copies of specified invoices to the estimate for all crash parts installed that are over $50.
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By John Bisnar
Outrage hit a fever pitch when Exxon Mobil released its latest record quarterly profits. There was no denying that the results Exxon posted amount to a lot of cash.

But where do they spend it all?

Here’s one source: funding phony think tanks that advocate eliminating the minimum wage, deny global warming, and hope to prevent Americans from receiving justice through the legal system.

Look no further than San Francisco based Pacific Research Institute (PRI). Like other “tort reform” groups, PRI’s funding comes from tobacco, oil, and drug corporations, according to past public donor lists. All have spent millions of dollars to close the doors of the civil justice system, or at a minimum, stack the deck against everyday Americans if they do get in.

PRI has concocted yearly studies that purport to rank state legal climates or put a value on the justice system. The legitimacy of this fiction was illustrated by the 2008 edition, where PRI cited themselves or other tort reform groups no less than 34 times in the footnotes.

Thankfully, serious objective academics reviewed one of PRI’s reports. Three law professors concluded that their claims are “without scientific merit and present a very misleading picture of the American tort system and its costs.”

The professors leveled several criticisms on PRI’s report, calling it “advocacy disguised as science,” “pure fiction,” “lack[ing] scientific merit,” and containing “highly dubious extrapolations.” Additionally, they discovered that none of the statistics or figures were from academic publications or peer reviewed by independent experts. PRI’s assertion that Americans are paying a “tort tax” also holds no water; its origins are a discredited insurance industry appraisal.

It is obvious that PRI went to incredible lengths to dupe the public into believing their research was legitimate and genuine. But why do they care so much about the legal system?
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As if dealing with insurance companies from time to time is not enough, there is a proposed California Bill, AB 2800, which would let auto insurance companies put a black box tracking device in your car. This box would essentially let the insurance Big Brothers keep track of when, where and how you drive. What’s more, insurance companies can charge you a penalty if you refuse to be tracked. So, basically, if you want to protect your privacy, you can be penalized for it.

Insurance companies’ argue that this bill is not about them keeping track of your driving, but only about verifying the number of miles you drive. I agree with Carmen Balber, a consumer advocate with the group, Consumer Watchdog. Balber wrote an Op-Ed for the Sacramento Bee () on this issue. As she puts it, this bill does nothing but give “insurers fresh ways to charge you more.”

Some insurance companies such as State Farm are already lobbying the California Department of Insurance for insurers to be able to collect for the time of day you drive, days of week, type of road, where your miles are driven, speed and even how aggressively you drive by measuring hard stops, starts or turns. So does that mean an insurer can increase rates if you work a night shift as a cop or a nurse? Does that mean you could get penalized for making a couple of hard turns or driving too fast or too slow?
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WhoCanISue.com has ridiculous written all over it yet, Time magazine recently published an article about the new attorney referral marketing website that’s all set to go live next month.

Right from its name, to its “slip on a banana peel” graphics, to its tagline “The Legal Process Made Easy,” the website makes a mockery of our tort system of accountability. It infers that holding a wrongdoer financially accountable for injuries they have caused is easy. It makes fun of lawyers and lawsuits, implying that lawsuits are frivolous and an easy way to make easy money. It isn’t enough that Time magazine wrote about it but night time talk show hosts are making jokes about it and lawyers are complaining about it on their blog which combined has flooded the website with traffic and it isn’t even live yet.

WhoCanISue.com isn’t even a law firm marketing for clients they intend to represent. WhoCanISue.com is a “referral” website, meaning the sponsors of the site are not looking to perform legal work for prospective clients. This is a pure advertising site. Personal injury attorneys pay money to advertise on the site in hopes of attracting new clients to themselves. WhoCanISue.com makes money by selling space on the website to attorneys.
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Insurance giant Allstate leads the top 10 list of worst insurers in the country, according to a comprehensive investigation of thousands of legal documents and financial filings by the American Association for Justice (AAJ), a national trial lawyers group. According to this article, the group based this top 10 list on what it calls “a distinct pattern of industry greed” among these insurance companies that do what they can to avoid paying claims, play hardball with consumers and put profits over the welfare of their policy holders.

According to AAJ’s chief executive officer Jon Haber, Allstate “publicly touts its ‘good hands’ approach” but has privately instructed its agents to adopt more of a “boxing gloves” strategy against policyholders, making it near impossible for them to get claims paid. As for Allstate, the strategy is a gold mine – to increase profits, expand salaries for their executives — all at the expense of its suffering policy holders. The other top 10 worst insurers include: Unum, AIG, State Farm, Conesco, WellPoint Health, Farmers, Torchmark and Liberty Mutual – in that order from 2 to 10.
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Two proposed ballot initiatives aimed at making personal injury attorneys unavailable in Oregon did not receive the signatures required to qualify for the ballot, according to a LegalNewsLine.com report. Initiative 51, which would have limited attorneys’ contingency fees to 25 percent of the first $25,000 recovered in civil lawsuits and 10 percent of any amount greater than $25,000. The second initiative (No. 53) would have called for attorneys to be punished for filing frivolous lawsuits or court motions.

The proposals were sponsored by Russ Walker of Keizer, Ore., vice chairman of the Oregon Republican Party. This type of tort deform initiative is mostly sponsored by insurance companies, giant corporations and the Chamber of Commerce to block the common man’s access to lawyers. Take away a persons access to lawyers and you take away their rights and their ability to hold wrongdoers accountable for the harm they cause.

Interestingly enough, Initiative 51 does not cap how much defense attorneys can charge. The whole idea is for the best attorneys to work for the insurance companies and big business, while the common man gets the attorneys who can’t find any other work. If such a law limiting contingent fees had passed we certainly would not do any work in Oregon and neither would any of the other truly gifted attorneys around the country. The best personal injury lawyers in Oregon would either move to another state or do other types of work, which is exactly what Walker and his backers were hoping to have happen. Where does that leave the people of Oregon?
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A team of three leading scholars from top U.S. universities has discredited a study done by the Pacific Research Institute (PRI) titled “Jackpot Justice: The True Cost of America’s Tort”, which calculated that the nation’s tort system imposes an annual “tort tax” of $9,827 for a family of four in the United States and also raises healthcare spending in the country by $124 billion. Now, a team of reputed scholars comprising Tom Baker of the Pennsylvania Law School, Herbert Kritzer of William Mitchell College of Law and Neil Vidmar of Duke Law School, has countered the PRI study debunking the figures that appear in PRI’s annual “state tort index and rankings.”

These three scholars say in their work, “Jackpot Justice and the American Tort System: Thinking Beyond Junk Science,” that PRI’s claims are not only “highly dubious,” but are without scientific merit and present a highly misleading picture of the American tort system and the costs associated with it.

These three law professors have also revealed that the source of PRI’s so-called calculation is a discredited study by insurance consultant Tillinghast Towers Perrin. The professors note that not one of PRI’s numbers in terms of tort costs comes from prestigious academic publications or reports that are subject to peer review by independent experts. On the other hand, these experts’ critical report on the PRI study was critiqued by a blind peer review.

I agree with our friends at the American Association for Justice’s President Kathleen Flynn Peterson that PRI’s report highlights claims that are hopelessly skewed and inaccurate. These claims have been used by industry giants and insurance companies over several decades to undermine the importance of the civil justice system. To read AAJ’s complete press release, please visit http://www.justice.org.
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At the Ben Glass conference for lawyers this weekend I met and got to know personal injury attorney Chris Davis, his wife, son and parents. I have known of Chris Davis and his law firm but never actually met him. To say I was impressed is an understatement. Davis is truly a “super lawyer” and more importantly, a “super guy, husband and dad”.

When we need to work with an out of state law firm to pursue an out of California cause or when someone needs a referral to an out of state attorney, I am very particular with whom I associate or refer someone to. Very particular!

After spending some time with Chris Davis and getting to know him personally, he has been moved to the top of my referral list for the state of Washington for all personal injury matters including car accidents, boating accidents, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and anything else involving a serious or fatal injury due to an accident. He has been moved to the top of our list for Washington State insurance bad faith, medical malpractice and dog attack claims as well.
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