I am fascinated by the idea of something called “tort reform.” A lot of politicians and political commentators tell us that we need this “tort reform” in order to preserve our freedom. Here is what we normally hear: “Plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers file too many frivolous lawsuits against businesses, and this lawsuit abuse costs businesses a fortune which is then passed on to all of us, so we need “tort reform” to protect us all.” About half the time, these comments refer to lawsuits against doctors and other members of the medical profession. You’ve heard it: “Our healthcare is outrageously expensive because these stupid lawyers keep filing frivolous lawsuits against doctors, so we need “tort reform” to protect our doctors, and to keep our healthcare costs down!” But like so many topics that are discussed in political forums, while the words sound reasonable, when you look just beneath the surface, you realize that the words are hollow and empty and are meant to persuade people of something that is false. So I would like to like to discuss the facts behind the political concept of “tort reform”, and I genuinely believe that I will convince you that what these folks are calling “tort reform” is unnecessary, deceptive, and like so many other political ideas, the concept of “tort reform” is designed to protect the most powerful among us at the expense of all of the rest of us.
Author: Robert Lamb
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in Truck Accidents on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.
Federal safety rules require truck drivers to take periodic rest breaks to prevent accidents caused by fatigue. For example, after driving 11 hours in a 24-hour period, operators must be off duty for 10 consecutive hours. To prove they actually took rest breaks, drivers are required to keep an electronic or paper logbook.
What's to stop a truck driver from claiming to take a rest break when they did not? Given that drivers have traditionally referred to their logbooks as "cheat sheets," we can assume it's fairly common for drivers to create false logbook entries. However, it is possible to catch logbook cheats.
Determining whether a truck driver has created false logbook entries can be key in proving liability in a truck accident case. By showing a truck driver violated Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, you can create a strong case of liability against the driver and the trucking company.
Many tractor-trailer rigs are equipped with GPS systems that record when the truck is moving, the direction it is traveling and the speed. If the GPS system shows the truck was traveling at 70 miles per hour on Interstate 285 while the driver's logbook says he was resting, the truck driver has a problem.
Other ways to catch logbook cheats include checking:
Receipts create a paper trail that show where a driver was at a particular time as well as distances traveled. If a driver claimed to be resting in Athens while he was eating or refueling at a truck stop in Atlanta, your case just became a lot stronger.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in Injuries on Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
You may have heard reports on the news about suspects who have been charged with aggravated crimes. It is rarely clarified, though, what exactly this means. How is an aggravated assault different from or worse than a regular assault? There are several factors that determine whether charges are upgraded to aggravated, and if you are facing such charges, you should understand the reasoning. These are a few of the most important things to consider.
Whether or not a weapon was involved
One of the most common reasons for a crime charge to be upgraded to aggravated is the presence or use of a weapon. In some instances, you do not even need to use the weapon to face the more serious charge. If you have allegedly used a weapon in the crime, though, it is likely that this will net you an aggravated charge.
The identity of the victim
In many areas, crimes against certain groups are automatically considered aggravated offenses regardless of the severity of the crime itself. In Georgia, for example, if you are charged with a crime affecting a police officer or an individual over the age of 65, it will automatically be classified as an aggravated charge. It is worth noting, however, that in order to convict you, there must be proof that you knowingly committed the offense against a member of a particular group.
Injuries sustained by a victim
Instances wherein a victim's identity may be cause for an upgrade to an aggravated charge are generally the exception. In most cases, factors such as the severity of damage or the method of the crime are more relevant. This is true for cases in which the injuries of a victim cause a charge against you to be aggravated. Aggravated charges may indicate that an injury occurred or that the injury was particularly severe.
You likely already know that the major difference between simple charges and aggravated charges is the potential consequence for either. You stand to face far more jail time, higher fines and greater repercussions if you are convicted of an aggravated crime rather than its simple counterpart. This is just one reason why it is important to defend yourself against charges-whether they are aggravated or not.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is to seek out legal counsel from a lawyer. Hiring an attorney can connect you with the defense you need and help you navigate the legal system successfully.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents on Thursday, November 5, 2015.
It may seem hard to believe, but Thanksgiving is now only a few weeks away. While this means more people will soon be heading to their local grocery store to stock up on the essentials, it also means more people will soon be hitting the road to travel to the homes of family members or friends over the long holiday weekend.
Those planning one of those road trips here in Georgia, however, should be aware that the State Patrol announced earlier this week that it will be out in full force now through the end of the year as part of its "Stop the Threat" program.
This means that troopers will be out in greater numbers on both high traffic corridors and rural roads looking to catch drivers of both passenger and commercial vehicles who are engaged in aggressive, dangerous and otherwise illegal driving practices, including speeding, tailgating and, of course, texting.
Some of the impetus for this statewide crackdown can likely be traced to the recent release of statistics by the Georgia Department of Transportation indicating that over one thousand people have already lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents this year, and that if the current pace continues, the state will see its first increase in fatalities in almost a decade.
In order to stay safe during the holiday season and beyond, state officials are reminding people to take the following precautions every time they get behind the wheel:
Always remember that if you have suffered serious personal injuries or lost a loved one because of the reckless actions of another motorist, you do have options for holding them accountable and, more significantly, for securing peace of mind.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in Car Accidents on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.
When it comes to finding the perfect new car, consumers are motivated by very different factors. For some, the size of the vehicle's engine and its overall performance will play a major role, while for others it may be appearance and amenities. Still others will put significant stock in an automaker's reputation for reliability.
There is at least one factor, however, that every new car buyer will take into consideration regardless of their underlying interests: vehicle safety. To that end, many prospective buyers will look no further than the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's ratings to see how many stars a particular model earned on the agency's crash-worthiness test.
Interestingly enough, the NHTSA indicated just last week that it was proposing major updates to its current crash test standards, which have not been updated for several years.
What exactly is the NHTSA proposing?
The NHTSA is proposing three major changes to its test protocol. First, it is seeking to use newer and more advanced crash test dummies designed to do a better job of measuring injuries. Second, it is looking to introduce a new frontal oblique crash test to account for a serious and frequently deadly kind of angled crash. Third, and perhaps most significantly, it's seeking to overhaul how crash scores are calculated by considering not just crash worthiness, but also crash-avoidance systems and pedestrian safety.
How would the assessment of crash-avoidance systems work?
The proposal indicates that the agency would examine how well a vehicle makes use of nine crash avoidance technologies such as lane-departure warning systems, auto-braking systems and collision warning systems.
Does this mean vehicles would be assigned three scores going forward instead of just one?
No. Vehicles would still be assigned a single overall score (one to five stars), but it would be based on the scores earned in all three categories instead of just the one. It remains undetermined, however, how much weight the agency plans on assigning to each of the three categories.
When would this new system take effect?
According to the NHTSA, the new ratings system, which will not be applied retroactively, would take effect in the 2019 model year.
Why is the NHTSA even doing this?
The primary justification for this shift is that it accounts for technological advances and could spur automakers to start making more crash avoidance systems standard equipment in order to earn higher scores and, by extension, make more sales.
It's encouraging to see the NHTSA taking safety ratings to the next level. Here's hoping it results in more people walking away from car crashes or avoiding them altogether.
What are your thoughts? Are these changes past due or entirely unnecessary?
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in Car Accidents on Friday, April 8, 2016.
Many people who are injured in auto accidents wonder if they can afford to hire an attorney. A more important question is whether you need an attorney.
Personal injury lawyers typically use a contingency fee arrangement. This means you pay the lawyer nothing up front. Your fee will be will a percentage of the recovery the lawyer makes for personal injury. The contingency fee system provides access to our civil justice system to people who could not otherwise afford to hire an attorney.
The contingency fee is usually 30 percent if the attorney can resolve your case by negotiations. If your case has to go to trial, most lawyers charge a higher percentage. However, even by paying the lawyer a significant percentage of your settlement, you are likely to left with more money in your pocket at the end of your case than if you tried to negotiate with the insurance company yourself, especially if you suffered a serious injury.
A more important question is whether you need to hire a lawyer. If you suffered only minor injuries and you expect to recover fully in a few days, it may not make sense to hire an attorney. Most lawyers offer a free initial consultation and will give you a candid answer if they think you need legal representation. Most firms will also review your settlement offer and let you know if it is appropriate.
If you have suffered a serious injury, however, negotiating with the insurance company yourself can be costly. You may say or do things that will result in your case being worth less. If you plan to hire an attorney, it's better to so right away. The contingency fee will be the same percentage whether you hire a lawyer right away or later in your case. By receiving the advice of an attorney from day one, your personal injury case will likely be worth more.
Perrotta & Cahn, Attorneys at Law in Cartersville, Georgia, offers a free initial consultation to discuss attorney fees or other issues in car accidents involving personal injury.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Tuesday, April 25, 2017.
Documenting your injuries after a car accident is a crucial aspect of pursuing a personal injury case. Whether you are bringing a lawsuit or negotiating an insurance settlement, the more evidence you have of your position, the better your chances of receiving adequate compensation.
Do not overlook the importance of getting medical attention and documenting all expenses. Here is a guide to collecting comprehensive documentation of your car accident injuries.
1. Seek immediate medical attention
Even if you think you only have minor injuries, get medical attention. Apart from being beneficial for your health and wellbeing, documentation of your injuries immediately following the accident helps determine a baseline of your condition. During your first visit to the doctor or hospital, request copies of records, reports and diagnoses.
2. Create a file and save everything
Make things easier for yourself by creating a medical file. Maintain an ongoing record of paperwork regarding your treatments. Documents to save include medical bills and insurance questionnaires. Having this file will help you create a narrative of your injuries and subsequent treatments. It also tracks all reimbursable expenditures.
3. Keep a diary
Recording your thoughts about your medical condition throughout the treatment and recovery process can be useful. Such chronicling helps you pay close attention to your injuries, potentially leading to more productive doctor visits. It is also a great way to document mental distress related to your injury. Write down any stress, confusion, sleepless nights or any other signs of mental trauma. This can help strengthen your claim for receiving compensation for pain and suffering.
By following these three steps, you can create a robust factual record of your injuries and the progression of your medical condition. Even if you have been getting treatments for the past few weeks and have not yet created a medical file or written a diary, it is not too late to start. If you need help negotiating your settlement or bringing forward a lawsuit, contact a personal injury attorney.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Monday, June 5, 2017.
With summer finally here, you will likely be riding your motorcycle often. Cruising on your bike is both incredibly satisfying and dangerous. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety - Highway Loss Data Institute, the summer months are responsible for the majority of motorcycle fatalities, with July having the highest number of deaths.
However, there are things you can do to lower the risk of accident and injury. You can make yourself and your bike more visible, wear proper protective gear and learn what to do when you still get hurt.
Motorcycle helmets and safety gear
Georgia law requires all motorcycle riders, whether operator or passenger, to wear a helmet, regardless of age. In addition, your bike must have a windshield or else all riders must use protective eyewear. Those who are riding inside a motorized cart or an enclosed cab do not have to wear a helmet or eyewear, neither do those who are using a three-wheeled bike for agricultural tasks.
For maximum safety, also wear a leather jacket, riding gloves and other protective gear. It may not be a legal requirement, but it will reduce the bodily injury you receive in an accident.
The responsibility of other motorists
Despite the precautionary measures you take, drivers of other vehicles may still hit you. They may be drunk, distracted or reckless in any other manner. If another driver hits and harms you, you should not have to pay the consequences. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can pursue damages from the responsible party to aid in the payment of medical care, lost income, permanent disability and other costs.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Monday, September 4, 2017.
Courts base child custody and visitation on the best interests of the children involved. Whether you come to an agreement with the other parent or let the court decide, the court will provide an order that you must follow. This order includes details about when a kid should be with each parent.
Both parents must follow this order. Unfortunately, there are deadbeat parents who do not comply with child custody orders. But what exactly counts as a violation? Here are a few examples that might warrant legal enforcement.
1. Consistently missing visitation
Visitation plans are important for keeping each parent involved with children. Failing to show up for scheduled visitation or repeatedly arriving late is directly contrary to the best interests of the children. It is key that children know each parent cares enough to make a consistent effort to show up. Failing to fulfill this duty leaves a parent at risk of losing future visitation.
2. Refusing visitation
On the other hand, a parent who makes a kid unavailable for visitation times is violating the court order. For example, a parent may add activities to the child's schedule to interfere with scheduled visitation. When a parent refuses to let a child see the other parent during a designated visitation time, it could result in significant consequences.
3. Denying visitation because of no child support
The custodial parent may refuse to comply with visitation because he or she is not receiving child support payments from the noncustodial parent. These are two separate issues. You should take on enforcement of child support payments without using the children as pawns.
Dealing with any of these situations can be incredibly frustrating. If a parent violates a court order in any of these ways, he or she may have to make up visitation, pay a fine or even spend time in jail. If the interference is serious enough, it could even be a felony. Read Georgia child custody laws for more information.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Wednesday, October 4, 2017.
Unfortunately, drunk driving is a problem that does not seem to be going away anytime soon. In fact, the state of Georgia saw an increase in drunk-driving-related fatalities in 2015 compared to 2014.
When pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, most police officers will ask the driver to submit to some kind of field test. In many cases, this ends up being a breathalyzer. An issue with many departments' breathalyzers is they are inaccurate. Most people consent to this test, not realizing they can actually refuse. However, if a driver is going to refuse, then he or she should be ready for what comes next.
Can you refuse a breathalyzer?
The short answer is, "yes." You have the right to deny a field breathalyzer test. However, at this point, an officer could place you under arrest if he or she believes you are above the legal blood alcohol content limit. Officers will only arrest a person if they believe drivers pose a threat to themselves or others. Many officers do end up arresting a person after a denial, and after an arrest, the driver does have to submit to testing.
What does it mean that Georgia is an implied consent state?
George has implied consent laws in relation to DUIs. After an arrest, an officer will take you down to the station where you have another test to take. Most often, this is a blood test. At this point, if the driver refuses, then there are significant consequences. For a first offense, a driver will face license suspension for up to one year. Many times, you have 30 days to appeal the decision to try to get your license back, and you may have mandatory drug and alcohol courses. Attorneys do not recommend people to refuse these tests because that refusal could come up in court. After an arrest, it is best to comply with officers' demands.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Tuesday, November 21, 2017.
Did you know that a rear-ender is the most common type of vehicle accident? It makes up about 40 percent of all traffic accidents reported in the U.S.
Do you think that a rear-end crash is no big deal in terms of injuries? Think again. If you are the victim of this kind of collision, you should seek immediate medical treatment, even if you are able to get out of your car and walk away.
The most common injury associated with a rear-end collision is hypertension involving the neck, better known as whiplash. The impact causes the neck to snap back and forth, a motion that is outside the normal range of movement. While whiplash is not always serious, problems with pinched nerves or herniated cervical discs may result. The impact could also cause injury to the middle and lower back where sprains and strains are common.
Other possible injuries
Head injuries are not uncommon in a rear-end crash. If violent enough, the impact can actually cause brain damage, inasmuch as your brain could smash against the inside of your skull. Injuries to your head and face can also occur if you hit the steering wheel upon impact. The lesser results could be cuts and bruises; the major results could be a concussion or a more serious brain injury.
If your lower limbs come in contact with the dashboard, you could sustain some serious injuries to your knees, lower legs and ankles, including broken bones.
Factors that lead to injury
If you are wearing your seatbelt, it will probably tighten upon impact, which could leave you with internal injuries. Your position in your seat also plays a part in the kind of injury you sustain.
What to do
Your first step following a rear-end collision is to seek medical attention; remember that you may have invisible health issues and unseen injuries you did not expect. Your next step is to seek legal counsel. You will need an advocate to help protect your rights and ensure that your claim for financial compensation to cover your injuries is skillfully handled.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Friday, February 9, 2018.
One issue that pops up in many divorces is a difference in perception as to the value of a stay-at-home spouse or parent. Value is easier to quantify for someone who goes to a job outside the home. In such cases, courts can use information such as salary, bonuses, insurance plans, retirement plans and more to calculate what that person brought financially to the marriage.
It gets trickier when one person focuses on keeping the house and perhaps the kids in order.
Some stay-at-home spouses do not have children. They may focus their tasks on any number of matters such as keeping the house tidy and preparing delicious meals. Perhaps they do not work in a paying job so they have the time and ability to support their spouse in a demanding career that requires travel and many family appearances. Examples could be politician or CEO. In fact, being a CEO's spouse could be a job in itself even though the spouse might technically stay at home.
Stay-at-home parents tend to focus on raising children and on other key family matters. If time and energy permit, they may cook or clean and do other tasks. After a divorce, many cannot afford to stay at home full time or at all.
Valuing the jobs
Intent can matter when the parties try to agree on a stay-at-home person's value. For example, was staying at home the overwhelming idea or preference of just one partner? Which one and why? Did the stay-at-home parent gladly give up years outside of the workforce, or was it something grudgingly agreed to? What was the cost to the spouse's career prospects, past, present and future?
Then there are some financial matters that can be calculated directly. How much did the couple save in daycare, gas and commuting expenses? How much is the life insurance policy on the stay-at-home spouse?
Different people and couples have different ways of fairly calculating the worth of someone who stayed at home. Maybe what worked for a couple who divorced last year does not seem to work well in someone else's situation. That is okay. Each couple must decide what is best for their unique situation.
On behalf of Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC posted in blog on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.
People who have dementia and are in a nursing home may be at higher risk of being over medicated. For example, in one Kansas facility in 2017, the director of the home said that it had been "like a death prison." Half of the residents were reportedly taking anti-psychotics, but the staff cut these medications by half over six months. The director noted that only 10 percent of the patients actually had a mental illness.
Why does this happen? What are the signs that a loved one could be over medicated?
A preference for docile patients
It usually comes down to the fact that over medicated patients are more sedate and docile. This can be an "easy" solution for understaffed facilities that lack the personnel to safely monitor each resident. Rather than explore other, legal alternatives, the facility simply gives the residents medication that has not been approved for their use.
However, the alternatives can be just as effective and easy. Nursing homes can start music therapy and pet therapy programs and exercise programs, develop better routines for residents and provide a range of activities. Yes, it is somewhat more work than giving medications, but it is still relatively easy, not to mention much safer and 100 percent legal.
Lack of consequences
Another reason that some nursing homes seem to have little qualms about freely dispensing antipsychotics is that there likely will be no serious consequences, if any. Even when a nursing home gets a citation, the odds of a penalty that means anything are low.
The telltale signs and effects
The signs that nursing home staff are over medicating a resident include incoherence, sleeping a lot (lethargy) and little or no memory. There is an increased death risk for people with dementia as well. Also, over medication over a long period of time can lead to stroke, heart attack and addiction. While symptoms such as memory issues and incoherence can already be present to some degree in dementia patients, the changes can be obvious.