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Tips for Winning the Game of Limited Tort Litigation from the Plaintiff’s Bar

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Tough

Today, more and more limited tort cases are litigated. Their value hinges upon whether the plaintiff can prove a serious impairment of a body function, otherwise known as a breach of limited tort. While it remains unclear exactly what constitutes a breach, strategies amongst the plaintiff and defendant bars continue to develop. I recently came across this article in the Legal Intelligencer written by Marc Simon detailing their strategy for approaching limited tort cases. It’s a perspective worth reading for both plaintiff and defense attorneys.

Four (4) Tips for Winning the Poker Game of Limited Tort Litigation

, Simon & Simon P.C.
Wednesday, April 6, 2014

In the world of personal injury litigation, everything we do is a gamble. Every time we sign up a new client, file a lawsuit, pay our experts, and walk into that courtroom to pick a jury we, and our clients, are betting on 8 or 12 people sitting in the jury box. We’re risking our time, our staff’s time and our case costs, that the jury will come back with a favorable award. In that regard, any personal injury litigation is a game of chance. And like most games of chance, the odds are tipped slightly in the house’s (the insurance companies’) favor…especially in the limited tort context.

That being said, you can only win if you’re willing to put your chips in the middle of the table. When an adjustor asks “why does your client pierce limited tort?” he is really asking if you’re willing to go all in for your client. To take on the big stacked insurance carriers in the poker game of limited tort litigation, you must be willing to bet it all. But before anteing up, remember these four (4) tips to taking down the house:

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Deposition Trials and Tribulations

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As a young attorney, preparing for a deposition can be daunting. You’re not only charged with learning the facts of the case, but you must also learn the rules of a deposition and how to sharpen your style. Moreover, you are to discover knew information about the case or things you did not know prior to the deposition — after all this is the purpose of a deposition. With that said, I am all for any tips that I can learn to improve my deposition skills. In civil practice, learning to take a good deposition is invaluable. I take three or more depositions a week and learn a valuable lesson each time.

For instance, early on I remember hearing experienced attorneys say, “strike that” mid question. I never did it, but I thought it might be an opportunity to create a cleaner transcript. Could it be that I could use this trick to have the reporter erase what was said to create a more easily read and understood question in the transcript. It was a practice that I immediately put into action, until I reviewed the transcript of my next deposition and realized that “strike that” did absolutely nothing. It simply added a few additional words into the transcript. This is just one of many lessons that I’ve learned in my short history of conducting depositions.

This attorney shares a number of her “teachable moments” during her young adolescent attorney years. A time period quite familiar.

Thousands of young attorneys will sit down to take their first deposition every year the same way I did, with roughly the same amount of dread and exactly the same amount of training.

lot and none whatsoever.

So that someone might benefit from my own painful experience more than twenty-five years ago, I give you my earliest deposition mistakes.

See, On the Job Deposition Training and for a lighter note see CNN’s article highlighting Justin Beiber’s 2014 deposition, Beiber Don’t Argue With the Lawyers.

 

2014 ABA MidYear Meeting (Chicago, IL)

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Hello Chicago!

For the next few days, I will be in Chicago attending the 2014 ABA Midyear Meeting. The ABA promises a wonderful program and I am looking forward to the educational fun experience. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a delegate for PA’s Youth Lawyer Division. Reviewing proposals and resolutions is sure to be interesting.

Other seminars I plan to attend include: Law School to Law Practice and the Anatomy of ADR.

Stay tuned for blog posts and updates!

Fake It ‘Til You Make It’ Huh???

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Interesting take on the Young Upstart vs. the Seasoned Professional. While us Young Upstarts really know nothing, the truth is that law school and early experiences teach you to Fake It Till You Make It, and we are all guilty. I agree with the author completely. In reality we all start(ed) from the bottom and can learn quite a bit from each another.

We often feel that the legal community is split into two factions: the Young Upstarts vs. the Seasoned Professionals. The Young Upstart wants nothing more than to dive in and practice law and to learn and do everything, right now, today. He looks at the Seasoned Professional in sheer terror and hopes that no one notices that he doesn’t exactly know what he is doing.The Seasoned Professional looks at the Young Upstart and thinks, “Dear God! They’ll let anyone take the bar exam! His mere presence in the courtroom is malpractice!”

The fact is, we ALL fake it ’til we make it. We ALL start from the same place. Today’s Young Upstart is tomorrow’s Seasoned Professional. The Seasoned Professional got that way by making mistakes and learning by doing as a Young Upstart. We all start with a metaphorical dirt lot and shovel and build our proverbial houses from the foundation up.

See, Are We Faking It ‘Til We Make It?’ for the complete article. Very interesting read.

10 Tips for Lawyers Writing in a Time Crunch

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Back in law school, you would have had at least two weeks to complete a writing assignment. With those two weeks, you would have had ample time to research, analyze, outline, draft, revise, edit, and polish. You would have devoted significant attention to large-scale, mid-scale, and small-scale revisions. You might even have been able to put the writing aside for a day to edit with fresh eyes. Sadly, those days are gone.

When lawyers have the time, of course they write well. The demands of the legal profession, however, can make even the best writer feel like a Top Chef contestant completing a Quickfire challenge, in which accomplished chefs must create, cook, and plate a recipe in under 30 minutes. Given the time constraint, the dishes are often incomplete or inedible. Similarly, when experienced lawyers are rushed, their writing might also be imperfect or hard to digest. Facing crunch time can make the most talented question their abilities and can leave both culinary and legal clientele with a negative or inaccurate impression.

There are, however, ways to control the havoc that time pressure can wreak. Just as some Top Chef contestants can successfully complete the same tasks in 30 minutes as they can when working under less-pressured conditions, so can lawyers—whether they have months, weeks, or hours to finish a writing project.

See, Tips for Lawyers Writing in a Time Crunch

Blind Men And An Elephant

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An easy and lazy habit that you can have as a lawyer is only seeing things from the perspective of a lawyer. Lawyers are trained to deconstruct problems and look for weakness, to approach situations with a critical perspective. But that does not mean that it is the only perspective that you need to have. One of the most voiced complaints from clients is that their lawyer doesn’t understand their view or their perspective on a case or matter.

This is likely due to a breakdown of communication between the lawyer and the client, and more than likely it is the lawyer’s fault. As a lawyer, it is very easy to fall into entrenched patterns and lines of thought — so easy that it is often difficult to step back from your role as a lawyer, and look at a case or a problem as a layperson or client. Harvard professor Theodore Levitt most aptly summed up this problem with his famous observation: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Source – Blind Men and an Elephant

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