04/22/13 at 8:47amWhat's Your Lawyer Worth?

Does Your Lawyer Have Financial Stamina?

What’s your lawyer’s net worth?  What does that have to do with anything?  Well, take the issue of costs, for example. It takes a lot of money to make a case most of the time.  The general public has a lot of misconceptions about lawyers.  One mistake is thinking one lawyer is as able to handle your case as well as the next.  Far from it.

If a giant corporation damaged you, it will spend a lot of money on lawyers and expert witnesses to get out of  paying you, if possible.  Defendants usually have insurance and the insurance company has a lot of money to fight against you, billions and billions.  Just one company, State Farm, ended 2012 with a net worth of Sixty Five Billion Four Hundred Million dollars.  That’s $65,400,000,000,00.  It didn’t get rich paying fair amounts in claims.  

Your lawyer has to take it away from them.  Your lawyer must have the financial staying power to work up the case, not cave in to the crushing expenses the insurance company will make him or her lay out.

You probably don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars laying around to take your case to court.  Does your lawyer?  Somebody has to front the money, almost always running well into six figures in a significant case.  It costs a lot to hire experts to evaluate your case and, if justified, to testify about their findings.  Somebody has to pay the court reporting fees, travel expenses, investigators, research costs, and so on and so on.   You need to ask about this before you sign a fee agreement with a lawyer.  Ask hard questions.

It used to be a little easier to figure this out.  Until 1972, the premier legal directory, Martindale-Hubbell, published ratings of lawyers’ net worth.   Here’s how it rated their estimated net worth: 

1  over $100,000

2  over 50,000 under $100,000

3  over 30,000 under 50,000

4  over $20,000 under $30,000

5  over 10,000 under 20,000

6  over 5,000 under 10,000

7  less than $5,000.

With inflation, a lawyer rated “1” in 1972 would have a 2012 net worth of $549,450.55.  It’s too bad you can’t go to the library and look up lawyers’ net worth anymore.  But it is still important for you to gauge your lawyer’s financial ability – and commitment –to spend what it takes to fight for you.  Ask about that before you sign a fee agreement.

03/13/13 at 1:51pmWhen should I hire a lawyer after being seriously injured or a family member has been killed?

Call an attorney immediately if you or a loved one has been injured.  Gone are the days when insurance companies out of the goodness of their corporate hearts paid claims made by innocent people without a fight.  What this more than likely means for you is a long, drawn-out battle even if you did nothing wrong.  The insurance company most likely will not pay you except for a limited amount to cover some of your medical bills, until a lawsuit is filed.  Even after you file a lawsuit, the insurance company’s lawyers will go to great lengths to prove the guilty party did nothing wrong or if s/he did cause the accident, you really are not hurt as much as you and your doctors say you are.

Therefore it is very important to preserve all of the evidence.  Even if you did nothing wrong, you will have to prove you were not at fault.  No matter how you were injured, there is a lot of evidence to be preserved.  For example, if you were injured when a semi-truck struck your vehicle, it is important to make sure the trucking company does not destroy the driver’s logs and the truck’s black box information, among many other documents.  The driver’s log along with other electronic data will show whether or not the truck driver was in compliance with the Department of Transportation’s hours of service requirements, for example.  In other words, was the truck driver legally on the highway when the wreck occurred?    If a careless physician has injured you or a loved one, all of your medical records will need to be preserved.

If a defective product like a defective tire, seatbelt or airbag or other product injured you, you will almost always need to preserve the product to prove it is defective.  This is true, even if you were injured in a car accident.  An accident reconstructionist will need to examine your car and the vehicle that injured you to determine who was at fault.  If your car has been “totaled” by your insurance company, do not let your insurance company sell it for salvage until you have talked a lawyer.  You will need to find an attorney who has experience representing people injured in auto and trucking collisions.  No matter how you were injured, your attorney should request all of the evidence be preserved for later testing if necessary and reviewed.

The bottom line is that if you have been seriously injured or a loved one was killed, it is important to contact an attorney immediately.  Do not wait until a few months before the statute of limitations (the time period for which a lawsuit must be filed) expires.  If you wait, important evidence will most likely be gone and memories will have faded, making your case difficult to prove.

02/13/13 at 11:13amUninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Protect yourself and your family

            Even the safest driver can be injured by careless motorist or truck driver.  If an uninsured or underinsured reckless driver injures you or a family member, your only recourse may be your own auto insurance coverage.  Many states require all motorists to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.  However, Wyoming only mandates that its car owners carry $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 per accident.  Not only are many drivers underinsured, thousands more are driving cars without insurance.  If you are injured by one of these drivers your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may be the only insurance coverage available.  

So, what can you do to protect yourself and your family from an uninsured/underinsured motorist?  The answer is simple.  Buy the most uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage you can afford.  At the very least, insist that your insurance company sell you UIM coverage of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per occurrence.  Not only is UIM coverage cheaper than liability auto insurance, it may be the only insurance that will protect you and your family if an uninsured driver hits you.  (Sometimes there is a product defect that may lead to additional coverage from a manufacturer, or bad repairs that may lead to additional coverage from a tire shop or service station or the like.)

            Before making a claim for UIM coverage, read your insurance policy carefully to so you will know what your insurance company requires.  Many insurance companies require their insureds to get the company’s approval before settling their claim against the careless, underinsured motorist.  In addition, your insurance company will require you to prove your damage before paying your UIM claim.  Before making an UIM claim, it could be a good idea to talk with a lawyer.

08/02/10 at 3:12pmAvandia: New Problems for GlaxoSmithKline

Like the ones it has with Paxil

According to a New York Times article, GlaxoSmithKline knew of the potential risks of the diabetes medication Avandia.  GlaxoSmithKline is also the maker of the SSRI Paxil.

Allegedly, GSK hid results of studies that showed Avandia was a dangerous medication.  According to an email obtained by the NY times, an executive wrote “Per Sr. Mgmt request, these data should not see the light of day to anyone outside of GSK.” 

The public first became aware of the potential heart risks of Avandia in 2007 after a lawsuit against the drug maker.  In that suit, it was discovered that GSK knew of the risks as of 2005.  However, new documents purportedly show that GSK knew of the potential risks as early as 1999.

After a lawsuit involving Paxil settled in 2004, GSK agreed to post the findings of all of their studies on the internet.  However, this does not solve the problem for many who say that GSK’s method for releasing the study information is still too mysterious.  It also does not resolve the issues for those who have suffered heart problems after taking Avandia.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration determined there was a problem with Avandia.  An FDA panel voted in the majority that Avandia should be removed from the market or have its sales severely restricted.

Patients who have suffered heart attacks or heart failure while taking Rosiglitazone (Avandia) may have a product liability case against GlaxoSmithKine.  If you have been injured by this medication, you should contact a products liability attorney immediately.  The Fitzgerald Law Firm was part of one of the two successful courtroom trials against GlaxoSmithKline for failure to warn users about the potential dangers of Paxil, another GSK drug.  Paxil was linked to suicide in teens and adults, and also to birth defects in newborns when their mothers had taken Paxil.

07/22/10 at 9:37amPaxil

GlaxoSmithKline announced it expects legal charges of approximately $2.4 billion for the second quarter of 2010.  The reports are that the $2.4 billion legal bill includes charges related to product liability lawsuits over Paxil, mothers and babies. “The charge we have announced today reflects the company’s ongoing efforts to resolve certain longstanding legal cases,” according to its main corporate lawyer in a statement quoted in the New York Times. “This represents a substantial proportion of GSK’s outstanding litigation.”

GlaxoSmithKline settled more than a hundred Paxil birth defect lawsuits in June 2010.  The Fitzgerald Law Firm has cases alleging GSK deliberately chose against adequately warning physicians and expectant mothers about the risk of birth defects when those pregnant mothers took Paxil.  Those birth defects include persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborn babies (PPHN) and heart defects, including holes in the heart and malformations.

Many law firms claim to have success in Paxil cases but only two lawsuits have ever resulted in a verdict against GSK for a birth injury, or death from suicide. One of those two successful cases against GSK over its Paxil product resulted in a verdict in which Jim Fitzgerald was privileged to serve as trial co-counsel for the family. If you or a loved one has faced issues with Paxil use during pregnancy and resulting birth defects in the baby and you are considering legal action, The Fitzgerald Law Firm will review your case free of charge.

 

06/21/10 at 10:10amDriving Accidents

Wyoming residents on average drive the most of any state in the U.S.  Wyoming’s large size makes for long drives.  All of this driving has the potential to lead to accidents.  While accurate numbers are not kept on non-fatal traffic accidents, there were 34,017 fatal traffic accidents in 2008 in the United States. http://www.nhtsa.gov/ Because of the large amounts driven by Wyoming drivers, those drivers are more at risk of accidents.  There are certainly accidents on the road but many times car and tire manufacturers could have prevented them or at least avoided serious injuries and deaths.

Accidents can happen for many reasons, including tire failure like the problems that plagued Firestone tires in the past and accelerator problems like those that are troubling Toyota.  There are also many other types of problems that can contribute to a traffic accident.

Truck accidents can occur for a variety of reasons.  Semi-trucks are a common sight in Wyoming.  Interstate 80 is one of the most heavily used corridors to move freight from coast to coast.  As a result of the large numbers of trucks on I-80, there are numerous accidents involving commercial vehicles or semi trucks.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in this type of accident, and you are considering legal action, The Fitzgerald Law Firm will review your case free of charge.

03/19/10 at 7:45amHeart Damage Caused by Diabetes Drug

Relying upon confidential government reports, The New York Times warned its readers on February 20, 2010, that each month hundred of people who are taking Avandia, a drug prescribed for the treatment of diabetes, are having heart attacks and others are experiencing heart failure.  The recommendation in these confidential government reports is that Avandia be withdrawn from the market.

According to the report, withdrawing Avadia from the market and replacing this defective and dangerous drug with a similar medication (Actos) would prevent 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure each month.   Avadia, also known as Rosiglitazone, is used to treat Type 2 diabetes.  In the third quarter of 2009, this drug was linked to 304 deaths.

GlaxoSmithKline manufactures Avandia.  The confidential FDA reports are part of an intense debate within the agency about whether this drug should be taken off the market.  This battle has been raging for a number of years but was recently brought to the forefront because of a new clinical trial and a Senate investigation that GlaxoSmithKline should have warned patients earlier about the potential risks of taking this pill.

Patients who have suffered heart attacks or heart failure while taking Rosiglitazone (Avandia) may have a product liability case against GlaxoSmithKine.  If you have been injured by this medication, you should contact a products liability attorney immediately.  The Fitzgerald Law Firm was part one of two law firms that successfully sued GlaxoSmithKline for failure to warn users about the potential dangers of Paxil, an SSRI antidepressant drug.

03/05/10 at 7:55amPain Pump

$4.5 Million Personal Injury Verdict

I-Flow Corporation manufactures and sells pain pumps that are used after surgery.  Recently, an Oregon jury found the company liable for negligence.  The jury awarded the plaintiff $4.5 million for the permanent damage he suffered to his shoulder joint. 

In 2004, the thirty-five (35) year old plaintiff underwent surgery after hurting his right shoulder while playing flag football.  After surgery, his surgeon inserted a pain pump catheter directly into the shoulder joint.  The pain pump is designed to deliver pain medication directly into the shoulder.

Afterward, the plaintiff reported to his doctor that he was experiencing ongoing pain and a “clicking” sound in his shoulder.  Physicians discovered that the patient’s cartilage in his shoulder joint was almost completely worn away.  This condition is called chondrolysis.  The pain pump damaged the plaintiff’s cartilage.  Now the patient has undergone more surgery but surgery cannot repair all of the damage.  He now faces a lifetime of repeat surgeries, constant pain and limited use of his right arm.

Although the FDA has not approved inserting these pain pump catheters directly into a joint, the product’s manufacturer instructed doctors to insert the catheter directly into the joint and then failed to warn medical doctors of the risks.

If you or a family member has had a pain pump inserted after surgery and have experienced cartilage damage, you should immediately contact an attorney.  The Fitzgerald Law Firm has more than 30 years of experience prosecuting product liability cases.  Their attorneys review potential cases for free.

03/05/10 at 7:50amDefective Tires Can Kill

Defective tires are dangerous. Tread separation and other tire defects can result from design error or manufacturing defects. When faulty tires suddenly lose their tread or explode (blow out), this event can cause the driver not only to lose control of the vehicle but also be unable to regain control, resulting in a deadly collision or accident.

Tire tread separation is particularly dangerous for owners of SUVs and vans because these vehicles have a higher center of gravity than passenger cars. This higher center of gravity can lead to deadly rollover accidents when a tire unexpectedly blows out. Blowouts can occur long before the tire tread is worn out. That can happen if the tire has minute cracks. They quickly lead to larger cracks that develop between the belts, causing premature tire fatigue and tread failure.


In late June 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that Bridgestone recalled 127,000 Firestone tires sold in 2007 and 2008 -- nearly doubling an earlier recall of tires from the same line.


NHTSA reports that in recent years tens of millions of flawed tires have been recalled. Firestone's Wilderness AT tires were recalled because they did not have proper adhesion between the steel belts and the surrounding rubber. This defect was caused by Firestone’s failure to utilize gum edge strips, nylon overlays or caps, or other safeguards to reduce the hazard of tread belt separation. Cooper Tire, Goodyear, Uniroyal, Dunlop and Foreign Tire Sales, Inc., and an importer of Chinese tires under the brand names Westlake, Telluride, Compass and YKS have all issued recalls for some of their tire models.


Tire manufactures are legally responsible for automobile wrecks that are caused by faulty tires. For over thirty years The Fitzgerald Law Firm has successfully brought product liability cases against many tire manufactures on behalf of their seriously injured clients and these clients’ family members who were killed in automobile accidents.

02/24/10 at 8:09amToyota’s Corolla

Steering Problems Emerge

Toyota’s problems are mounting. On February 17, 2010, U.S. safety officials announced they are investigating complaints of dangerous steering problems in the 2009 and 2010 Toyota Corollas. This problem surfaced soon after this automobile manufacturer introduced a new power steering electrical system in its 2009 Corolla model.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received 163 complaints. According to federal officials this defect causes the Corolla to veer from side to side. This product has caused accidents resulting in injuries to both drivers and passengers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately 363,000 2009 Toyota Corollas and 136,000 2010 Toyota Corollas are defective.

Plenty more in the Archives