Legal News & Updates

Atlanta Lawyer Magazine Feature

Atlanta Lawyer Magazine Feature

Atlanta Lawyer Magazine featured Kevin Patrick for the “Keys to Success” portion of the magazine. Kevin serves on the executive committee for the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Bar Association. As a personal injury trial attorney in Georgia, Kevin believes in the importance of staying active in the Atlanta legal community. The tips that Kevin learned are attributable to the lessons taught by his father. These lessons are useful not only in civil jury trials, but most importably, in life.

Atlanta Bar Association Board of Directors

Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Kevin Patrick serves on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Bar Association.

Kevin’s “Keys to Success”

Atlanta Lawyer Magazine will often ask Georgia attorneys for their thoughts on various legal matters. This time, the Atlanta Lawyer asked about Keys to Success. To Kevin, it is quite simple:

Arrive on-time, which in reality is 10 minutes early, remember to stand up straight, and always tell the truth.

“Arrive on time, which in reality is 10 minutes early, remember to stand up straight, and always tell the truth.”

We would invite you to check out the entire magazine.There are some other great quotes from other Atlanta lawyers. For example, ‘The only failure is not to try.” Don’t just show up: DO.” And, (on a humorous note), “Study hard so you can go to medical school.” 😉 There are a number of useful and interesting articles about the legal profession in Georgia too.

Importance as a Trial Lawyer

These keys in the Atlanta Lawyer Magazine are important to Kevin as a person and attorney, especially as a trial lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia. For example, Kevin has an automobile accident case starting trial tomorrow in Cobb County State Court. It is supposed to start at 9:00. Kevin will be there by 8:30. FYI — He gives himself not just 10 minutes, but 30 for trial. By standing up straight, it shows respect for the Court, his client, and the whole civil justice system. Finally, tell the truth. It’s easy, and always the right thing to do. To paraphrase Mark Twain, If you tell the truth, then you don’t have to remember the last thing you just said.

We hope you enjoyed this blog post about the Atlanta Lawyer Magazine. If you ever have questions about the Atlanta Bar Association, Georgia personal injury cases, or really any Georgia legal issue, you are always welcome to reach out to Kevin and his Atlanta law firm.

 

Uber & Lyft Accidents in Georgia

What should I do if I’ve been hurt in an automobile accident when I took Uber & Lyft in Georgia?

As a Georgia personal injury attorney, I am handling more and more Uber and Lyft accident cases. You see people using Uber and Lyft every day in a busy city like Atlanta.  These types of car accidents are quite common now, especially in comparison to just a few years ago in Georgia. One of the first questions I will get asked in my Georgia personal injury practice is: “What should I do if I’ve been hurt in one of these types of accidents?”

I’m here to help, but first, let me offer a bit of background…

Why It Could Be Easier for An Automobile Accident to Happen When You Take Uber & Lyft?

Do you know that the Chicago University Business School determined — “The arrival of ridesharing is associated with an increase of 2-3% in the number of motor vehicle fatalities and fatal accidents”?  The percent may seem small at first glance. But, it’s actually quite a lot considering the sheer number of automobile accidents already happening in Georgia. While Uber and Lyft’s services provide a lot of benefits to people, there are several reasons why Uber & Lyft drivers may be more likely to cause a car accident in places like Atlanta, Georgia:

  1. One thing is for sure — Uber & Lyft are putting more drivers on the road in Georgia.
  2. Another consideration — Uber & Lyft drivers might not be very familiar will the route when they pick up a new passenger, which causes more Atlanta accidents.
  3. You’ve probably seen this too — Uber & Lyft driver will need to use the map app on their phone. And then, the reaction time to avoid an automobile accident really slows down!

How Do Uber & Lyft Insurance Policies Work After an Accident in Georgia? 

Next, you need to know about Uber and Lyfts’ insurance policies after an automobile accident.

When it comes to rideshare service in Georgia, things are a little bit different: When it comes to your Uber & Lyft driver, their own personal insurance companies, such as State Farm, GEICO, and Allstate, will not be willing to compensate you for your personal injuries in an car wreck. Why is that?  Well, most insurance companies will include in their policy that the insurance only covers “personal use” and thus will not include business activities, like driving for Uber and Lyft. Fortunately, Uber and Lyft have their own insurance policies for their drivers.

A quick point of comparison: In a non-rideshare traffic accident in Georgia, a passenger can get compensation for bodily injuries directly from the insurance company of the other river. FYI — If there’s not enough coverage, i.e. money available, the passenger might also be able to get reimbursement from their own insurance company and the insurance company of the owner’s vehicle. It’s still though probably less than the coverage for Uber and Lyft drivers.

Let’s look at the fine-print for these types of accidents…

Uber’s Insurance After a Georgia Accident with Personal Injuries

For Uber’s insurance following an accident with personal injuries, Uber provides the following insurance policy for its driver:

  • $1,000,000 Third-Party Liability (Their driver at-fault) — Well above the minimum limits of $25,000 for individual people required under Georgia law. Another point: Taxi cabs usually only carry $25,000 so please take Uber or Lyft instead of them.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury, i.e. another driver is at-fault and not the Uber or Lyft driver, of $1,000,000 too. A great added layer of protection after an automobile accident in Georgia.  You may be able to get the other driver’s insurance after a wreck plus it.

Lyft’s Insurance Following a Georgia Motor Vehicle Collision

As for Lyft, their insurance policy states that for an automobile accident:

Our primary liability insurance is designed to act as the primary coverage from the time you accept a ride request until the time the ride has ended in the app. The policy has a $1,000,000 per accident limit.

What’s this mean? As a practical matter, there’s not really a difference between the amount of insurance coverage after an accident in Georgia involving Lyft. Good news, you don’t have to chose Lyft over Uber or vice versa for this reason. 😉  Insurance questions may be complicated after an accident in Georgia so feel free to ask me. Always here to help!

How do I Report an Automobile Accident to Uber or Lyft ?

Reporting Uber Accident

Image of Help Feature on Uber App to Report an Automobile Accident

We know that being hurt in an accident in always hard for people. But at least the reporting process for Uber and Lyft is pretty easy:

  1. Report the accident on the Application: It is easy to report the accident to Uber/Lyft by just using the app. It’s right under the help tab. One more tip: Take a screen shot of the information before you submit the information about the automobile accident. You never know if you’ll need it for your records down the road. (Bad pun, but yes, it’s so easy to save things now with your phone too).
  2. Reporting accident on the Website: We’ll make it simple. You can click right on these links. Here’s the link to Uber. And here’s the  link to Lyft.

What Type of Compensation is There After an Uber or Lyft Accident in Georgia?

As with other automobile accident cases, you may be entitled to

  • Medical expenses — EMS and hospital bills following the accident.
  • Future medical expenses  — Treatment a doctor thinks you may need in the future caused by the collision
  • Lost wages — Time you missed from work while you were recovering from the automobile accident.
  • Pain and suffering — We all know that its sure is hard to be hurting and in pain so Georgia law provides for compensation for it too.

If you are involved in an Uber or Lyft accident and have more questions about the Georgia personal injury process, please feel free to call me today.

Welcome Baoyi Cai as a Summer Associate

Welcome Baoyi Cai as a Summer Associate

We are excited to welcome Baoyi Cai as a summer associate at Kevin Patrick Law. Baoyi Cai is a rising 3L at Emory University Law School. She earned a Bachelor of Law Degree from China. Additionally, Baoyi is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese.

Baoyi’s work as a summer associate for our trial law firm includes doing legal research, reviewing documents, and drafting pleadings and demand letters for our Georgia personal injury cases. Baoyi is a hardworking associate. She is especially interested in learning more about practicing in different legal fields, like automobile accidents and daycare injuries. As a summer associate, Baoyi also attended one of our personal injury mediations. She learned about settlement strategies and negotiations.

Baoyi’s Law School Accomplishments

2019 GAPABA Annual Gala

Volunteering at the 2019 GAPABA Annual Gala

Prior to starting as an associate at Kevin Patrick Law, Baoyi has been very active at Emory Law School. Baoyi is the founder and President of the Association of International Law Students. She is an international student representative. Baoyi is part of the diversity and inclusion coalition. Baoyi also won first place in the Duke Transactional Law Competition this March. During the competition, Baoyi worked with her teammates to draft an indemnification agreement for a stock purchase. She also negotiated the agreement with students from other law schools.

Baoyi’s Involvement in the Community

As a summer associate at our firm and during law school, Baoyi always tries to get more involved in the local legal community. For example, Baoyi volunteers at Project Open Hand in Atlanta. The project helps homeless individuals in Atlanta. Baoyi also is a volunteer at the Clinic for Veteran’s at Emory Law School. She is also an active student member with the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA). She volunteered at the Annual Gala too!

We are glad to have Baoyi with us this summer as an associate at Kevin Patrick Law. Baoyi is a great asset to our personal injury practice. Again, welcome Baoyi!

Receiving Outstanding Service Award

Receiving the Outstanding Service to the Bar Award as a Georgia Personal Injury Trial Attorney

Kevin Patrick received the Outstanding Service to the Bar Award at the annual meeting of the State Bar of Georgia. Service to others is an integral part of the legal profession. As a personal injury trial lawyer in Georgia, I, likewise, firmly believe in the importance of service.  Kevin Patrick Law serves injured clients. The firm also serves to the State Bar of Georgia.

Engagement in the State Bar of Georgia as a Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

First of all, one of the hallmarks of my firm’s injury practice is cultivating meaningful professional relationships. These relationship are forged with other Georgia lawyers and members of the judiciary. We all serve the State Bar of Georgia. By engaging in the bar as a personal injury lawyer, I found that it not only helps my client’s injury cases, but also elevates my firm’s stature in the Georgia legal community. Fellow Georgia lawyers and judges know that my firm only takes legitimate personal injury cases in Georgia. Furthermore, my firm handles personal injury cases the “right way.” High ethical and professional standards are paramount to Kevin Patrick Law.  Simply put, you won’t see Kevin Patrick Law running adds on TV or using paid actors to tout personal injury settlements.

Reflections on the Outstanding Service to the Bar Award

When I received the Outstanding Service Award from the State Bar, the award reaffirmed my commitment to the Georgia legal profession. Next, I looked-up the definition of service. Service means actively helping or doing work for someone. Just as Kevin Patrick Law strives to actively help our personal injury clients, I strive to engage actively in the State Bar of Georgia. For example, Georgia Bar activities include teaching incoming law students about professional responsibility. There is also mentoring for younger Georgia lawyers. Most importantly, I am a resource for community service projects. I like volunteering at shelters and food banks. While the award is a culmination of over a decade in practice, I firmly believe as a Georgia trial lawyer that service never stops. I look forward to many more years of service to the legal profession in Georgia.

A Personal Injury Success Story for a Georgia Army Veteran after an Automobile Accident

Helping a Georgia Army Veteran in a Personal Injury Case after an Automobile Accident

One of the most rewarding aspects of being a personal injury trial attorney in Atlanta, Georgia is the unique ability to help others that have been hurt in automobile accidents. We especially like to help veterans of the armed services because of their sacrifices to our country.  (Check out another one of our stories here.) As a Georgia lawyer, I truly recognize the difficulty that being in automobile accident places on a person’s life.  For example, there can be mounting medical bills. Injured people also may need future medical treatment. There additionally is just the interference with daily life after a car accident. Despite these challenges of being hurt in a car accident, I am sharing with you one of our success stories from an automobile accident trial we had back in March.

Background to the Automobile Collision

Our client is a former Army veteran.  He was born in New York , but grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. Simply put, a great guy! One thing that is near and dear to him along with his family in Georgia are Atlanta sports teams. When our client was driving to the Atlanta Hawks’ first round playoff game back in 2015, a car pulled out in front of him on Northside Drive. It was a bad auto-accident. The Atlanta Police Department and the paramedics came to the scene after the accident. As you can see too, car wreck caused a lot of damage to our client’s vehicle because the airbags deployed right after the collision:

A picture showing the airbag after our client has an automobile accident in Georgia.

The airbag deployed after the automobile accident.

Medical Treatment after the Car Accident

Our client was taken to the hospital by ambulance given the seriousness of the automobile accident. He was triaged at the hospital after the wreck and then had some follow-up care with doctors.  Medical treatment after an automobile accident oftentimes includes physical therapy, electrical stimulation, hot/cold therapy, and sometimes other procedures and surgery.  In our personal injury case, the treatment lasted a few months. Our client fortunately had a pretty good recovery after the car crash. There, nevertheless, was some lingering pain in his neck and back from the accident.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Georgia

The insurance company, however, didn’t take responsibility on behalf of their driver for causing this car wreck. It was sure disappointing for our client. But fortunately though, we have a great system of justice for personal injury cases in Georgia. So next, we filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Georgia. Once again, the other driver didn’t take responsibility for the car accident, but rather, this time the driver blamed it on “John Doe.” During the civil process for a personal injury case in Georgia, we have discovery. The parties in the case exchange information about the car accident. We were able to establish that “John Doe” didn’t contribute whatsoever to the collision!

Personal Injury Jury Trial & Automobile Accident Verdict

The insurance company eventually made it very low settlement offer to resolve our client’s personal injury case. Fortunately though, our client had the courage reject this settlement offer for his auto-accident. We decided to take his Georgia injury case all the way to trial before a jury. I told our client that he served our country. There’s no way we would ever sell him short for his bodily injury settlement. This accident case ultimately went to a civil jury trial in Fulton County. The Georgia jury listened attentively to our client’s story. And then, the jury came back with the verdict in our client’s favor!

Interestingly, Georgia personal injury law allows us  to move for a second trial right after the first to see whether or not the insurance company’s position were indeed frivolous. The judge rightly allowed us to present evidence of all their denials, defenses, and delays. The jury didn’t deliberate long about attorney’s fees under Georgia law. The jury’s verdict form said, “Give him everything that he asked for.”  They too were frustrated by the failure by the defense to take responsibility for the automobile accident. The jury, nevertheless, was instructed to put in the exact number amount on the verdict form, but had a hard time remembering the amount of attorney’s fees so we eventually settled for a confidential amount with the insurance company. All is well that ends well…

Donating Our Attorney’s Fees to Recognize Georgia Veterans

Instead of keeping the Georgia attorney’s fees from the automobile accident case, we thought the right thing to do would be to donate these fees on behalf of our client. He is reenlisting in the service. There is a Veteran’s Cemetery in Canton, Georgia. They are building a Veterans Memorial Bell too. We thought — What better way we thought to recognize our client than to donate the attorney’s fees for this bell honoring his and other’s military service?  So on Memorial Day, we officially donated our attorney’s fees from this personal injury case to the this organization.

We’re so proud to represent a member of the armed services in his personal injury case. Our client can now reenlist knowing that his country and our judicial system remains strong and values his sacrifice and commitment our country. To all members of the armed services, all of us at Kevin Patrick Law are grateful for your service and sacrifice to our country. Be safe and know that you always have a friend and resource in me as a Georgia trial lawyer.

Volunteering for the High School Mock Trial Competition National Championships

Volunteering to Help Aspiring Young Lawyers in Georgia

The practice of law and being a lawyer goes well beyond the courtroom (or in some cases actually going back to the courtroom to help aspiring young lawyers). Georgia hosted the High School Mock Trial Program’s National Championships on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in Athens. As a Atlanta personal injury lawyer, it was really exciting to see teams from all across the country get-together here in Georgia for this annual competition.  Great to see these aspiring lawyers!!! As a Georgia Bulldog myself, I especially enjoyed in visiting campus, the Classic Center, and Athens-Clarke County courthouse, especially since we recently had a jury trial there.

Reflections as a Georgia Trial Lawyer

Not only was volunteering really rewarding on a professional level as a personal injury trial lawyer, but also it brought back so many fond memories of my high school days, which was almost 20 years ago. I remember during my junior and senior years at the Walker School participating in the very same mock trial program. It helped me decide to be a trial lawyer. Looking back, there were so many judges and attorneys that volunteered their time to teach us about becoming a successful advocate, comfortable in court, and instilling faith in our legal system.  I always want to return the favor each year by volunteering for as a judge/juror/evaluator for this program.

Great Experience as a Personal Injury Attorney

These students are truly gifted advocates!  Each team prepares opening statements. After that, there are direct and cross examinations of witnesses, and then closing arguments. In addition, the attorneys also learn to field objections and interpose objections of their own in court.  Another exciting aspect of the program is that students also serve as witnesses. They really get into their characters!! By watching them, I, similarly, learned too. I’ll be sure to use some of their techniques next time (probably tomorrow) I’m litigating one of my personal injury cases.

To learn more about the program, here’s the link to it.

Congratulations on a job well done to all the students!!

In sum, if you have any questions about our practice, which is personal injury in the Atlanta area, or know of any high school students aspiring to become lawyers in Georgia. It doesn’t just have to be personal injury ;-). Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my firm. Above all, we truly hope to do our part to make ourselves a welcoming and supportive part of the community.

Thanks again for reading our blog, and Go Dawgs!!

We’re featured in the Wall Street Journal!

We were featured in the Wall Street Journal about the balancing compassion and professionalism with our clients, especially since we meet people under difficult circumstances.

Here’s our quote:

Attorney Kevin Patrick say that his specialty in personal injury cases warrants the more-than-occasional hug. “We’ll often encounter clients that are facing very tough and painful circumstances,” he says.  “I used to take the position that hugging was inappropriate at work, but now our firm gives a fair amount of discretion. We want to be seen as compassionate and sympathetic because we are. A hug is a sign that we care about our  clients.”  That said, Mr. Patrick and his colleagues adhere to a rule: Don’t initiate. “If a client hugs us,” he says, “then we will embrace them back.”

We hope you enjoyed the article! As always, we’re here to help and don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an e-mail.

What does a pretrial order look like for an automobile accident case in Georgia?

We take pride in preparing all of our cases for trial, and a number of those cases are automobile accidents. Once we finish up a process called discovery, which basically means that we exchange information with the other side through written questions, documents, and depositions (pretty much interviews), we will stipulate to a trial calendar, i.e. we’re ready for the jury! The court will then set us down for a pretrial conference. It’s an opportunity for the judge and both sides to talk about the issues in the case and get things ready from a procedural prospective too.

Prior to the conference, the parties need to prepare what is called a pretrial order. Each case is certainly unique, but there is a standard form for the order. We thought it would be useful to share it with you, but a word of caution — Still hire a lawyer — Pretrial conferences are complicated proceedings.

Well, with that word of caution, here you go…

FYI — We’ve added a few of our thoughts/comments in bold. Hope it helps!

CONSOLIDATED PRE-TRIAL ORDER

1.
The name, address and phone number of the attorneys who will conduct the trial are as follows:
Attorney(s) for Plaintiff:

Attorneys for Defendant:

2.
The estimated time required for trial is ______ days.

Most cases can be tried in less than a week. For basic car accident cases, we try to have them tried in three days. Be efficient! It’s good for everyone!

3.
There are no motions or other matters pending for consideration by the court except as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

Always try to resolve issues with the opposing attorney/side and try not to spend too much time simply arguing for the sake of arguing. 
4.
The jury will be qualified as to relationship with the following:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

The reason for this part is to avoid having a relative on the jury — It simply wouldn’t be fair. We need an impartial jury!

5.
(a) All discovery has been completed, except as otherwise noted, and the court will not consider any further motions to compel discovery except for good cause shown. The parties, however, shall be permitted to take depositions of any person(s) for the preservation of evidence for use at trial.
(b) The names of the parties as shown in the caption to this order are correct and complete and there is no question by any party as to the misjoinder or non joinder of any parties.

Here, the Court wants to make sure that everything is wrapped up and that you got the right parties. 

6.
The following is the plaintiff’s brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:
7.
The following is the defendant’s brief and succinct outline of the case and contentions:

Keep them short and simple!

8.
The issues for determination by the jury are as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:

What is the issue, i.e. who is at fault, did the car accident cause the injury, what are the damages?

9.
Specifications of negligence including applicable code sections are as follows:

Pretty simple here too — Was the other person following too closely, made a illegal turn…

10.
If the case is based on a contract, either oral or written, the terms of the contract are as follows:

Not applicable in automobile cases.

11.
The types of damages and the applicable measure of those damages are stated as follows:

Usually in automobile accidents its medical bills and lost income, i.e. special damages, and general damages, i.e. pain and suffering. 

12.
If the case involves divorce, each party shall present to the court at the pre-trial conference the affidavits required by Rule 24.2.

13.
The following facts are stipulated:

It means that sometimes the parties can agree on things so there is no need to let a jury decide it. 

14.
The following is a list of all documentary and physical evidence that may be tendered at the trial by the parties. Unless noted, the parties have stipulated as to the authenticity of the documents listed, and the exhibits listed may be admitted without further proof of authenticity. All exhibits shall be marked by counsel prior to trial so as not to delay the trial before the jury.
(a) By the plaintiff:

(b) By the defendant:

Yep, it’s what is means — A list of the documents and other things a party will use at trial.

15.
Special authorities relied upon by the plaintiff relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:

16.
Special authorities relied upon by the defendant relating to peculiar evidentiary or other legal questions are as follows:

If there are complex issues, this part gives the information to the Court. 

17.
All requests to charge anticipated at the time of trial will be filed in accordance with Rule 10.3.

We’ll explain this another day. 😉

18.
The testimony of the following person(s) may be introduced by depositions:
(a) By the plaintiff:
(b) By the defendant:
Any objection to the depositions or questions or arguments in the depositions shall be called to the attention of the court prior to trial.

Sometimes people aren’t able to attend so there are ways to make sure the jury still gets to hear what they have to say.

19.
The following are lists of witnesses who will or may be called to testify at trial:
(a) The plaintiff will have present at trial:
(b) The plaintiff may have present at trial:
(c) The defendant will have present at trial:
(d) The defendant may have present at trial:
Opposing counsel may rely on representation by the other party that he or she will have a witness present unless notice to the contrary is given in sufficient time prior to trial to allow the other party to subpoena the witness or obtain his/her testimony by other means.

Just like the documents, you’ll list out the people who will show up for your case. 

20.
The forms of all possible verdicts to be considered by the jury are as follows:
Plaintiff:
Defendant:
 This is for another day too. 😉

21.
(a) The possibilities of settling the case are ____.
(b) The parties do/do not want the case reported.
(c) The cost of takedown will be shared equally between the parties.
(d) Other matters:

We hope our blog was helpful, but do feel free to reach out to us if you have any specific questions about pretrial orders in Georgia. You can reach us at (404) 566-8964 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com. Hope to hear from you!

Getting Involved in the Legal Profession in Georgia

Our past few blog posts have focused on legal topics and advice, but the profession extends well-beyond the courtroom. Professional engagement is very important to us. I am the editor for the Litigation Section of the Atlanta Bar Association. A younger colleague of ours wrote a very engaging article for our newsletter. We wanted to share it with you on our blog too!  (It’s also hard to believe where the times goes because I’ve now been in practice for over a decade.) In any event, enjoy……

Professional Development as a Young Attorney

Career trajectory is a constant thought for young professionals entering the legal field.   One way to combat those perpetual thoughts of wondering where you will be in the next couple of years is to start with the end goal in mind. Consider the legacy you would like to leave behind when you decide to retire the suit jacket for flip-flops and sand castles.   A simple question to ask yourself is whether you would like to be remembered as the lawyer that passed the bar and no one ever heard of again, or one that showed their zest to give back through getting involved and staying involved throughout the legal community.

We all know how important it is to be responsible for your career after graduating law school and passing the bar.  However, that involves more than landing a job and getting settled in.  While it is important to find employment and gain as many valuable skills as possible, it is equally important to involve yourself in activities outside of work that align with your interest.  As young professionals, we tend to focus our attention heavily on becoming great lawyers. We make a great effort to be the first ones to arrive at work and the last ones to leave.  Newly admitted attorneys and recent graduates must also understand the value and importance of involvement outside of your job.

As a young professional, getting involved can be somewhat frightening.  You may feel as though your lack of experience somehow deems you unqualified. There may be confusion about who to ask or where to go, but I can assure you that there’s an organization or committee suitable to your interest.  Typically, an organization’s website will list their upcoming events and board member’s contact information. I challenge anyone looking to become involved to attend at least one event per month before settling on not becoming involved at all. The last event I attended was for informational purposes only, however, I was unexpectedly invited to become a member of the executive committee.  Things manage to happen when you put yourself in the right place at the right time.

Becoming involved, as a young professional, could mean a number of things depending upon whom you are speaking with.  Your association does not have to be limited to legal organizations. It may involve becoming a committee member on a local school board, fine art society or even grass roots organizations in your community. It could be as simple as reaching out to individuals on professional social sites to meet for coffee or attending local or state bar events.

Also, there are many organizations and bar associations that are involved in the efforts to improve diversity and equality in the legal field that may be of interest to new lawyers.   There are many organizations that offer free training and webinars to lawyers that are free of charge.

Another benefit of getting involved as a new lawyer is the ability to connect with people that are further along in their careers than you or practicing in an area of law that may align with your career goals.  It is a great pleasure to speak with senior attorneys and mid to junior level attorneys that can warn of the pitfalls and how to avoid making certain mistakes.  Whether you are interested in finding a mentor, attending a happy hour, or listening to a panel discussion, I can assure you that there is an organization awaiting you with open arms.  

More importantly, the best part of getting involved as a young lawyer is that you might have the opportunity to help someone in need of your services.  It has been a great pleasure of mine to volunteer with organizations that provide legal services to the underprivileged to help them navigate the legal system. Also, the Georgia bar urges all lawyers to provide at least 50 hours annually of pro bonowork to low income Georgians.  I believe that there is no better way to complete your hours than by dedicating your time and service to an organization that is committed to giving back to those in need.

Finally, my hope is that all of my fellow young professionals will join at least one local or state bar organization and become an active member. Attend events and rest assured that any organization or association’s most valuable assets are its members.  It is through you that all things are possible!

As always, please consider us a resource and friend whether you a young professional, attorney, or just have a question about the law here in Georgia. We’re happy to help! My contact is kevin@patricktriallaw.com or (404) 566-8964.

What do I need to know about the new distracted driving law in Georgia?

How often have you seen people on the roads looking at their phone? You’ve probably even noticed that at stop signs people are glued to their screens and possibly even watching videos — Yes, it’s been happening more and more these days. While cell phones are handy devices, they are also causing a lot more automobile accidents here in Georgia, especially in the metro-Atlanta area with all of the traffic. The Georgia Legislature has recently passed HB 673, which is sometimes called the “Hands Free” law, to help prevent accidents in our state.

As you can see from the picture in our blog, this law looks pretty complex, and there’s no shortage of legalese. What do you expect from a bunch of lawyers and politicians? 😉 Our goal though is to make it simple and understandable for you. So here’s what you need to know about what’s allowed and what’s not starting JULY 1st

First, let’s highlight what you can do:

  • Texting and talking is allowed so long as you are using hands-free technology;
  • A GPS or mapping application is fine in the background (FYI — Just don’t be actively inputting information)
  • Interestingly, CB radios are allowed along with commercial two way radios. Real quick: We’re wondering if you know of anybody that actually has one?

Second, what you can’t do:

  • Hold or support a phone or other device with any part of the body. You know how you used to prop a phone on your shoulders, etc.? Well…that’s now illegal in Georgia.
  • Writing, sending, and/or reading a text message, Facebook message, IM, e-mail or anything like it.
  • Watching a video or move (other than a GPS or mapping application) on your phone while driving in Georgia. Hate to break it:  But yes, that includes YouTube, which apparently was becoming more common in distracted driving accidents.
  • REMEMBER THIS TOO — Reaching for a device is also illegal under HB 673 if it means you’re not in a safe driving position or means you’ll have to take off your seatbelt to get your phone.

Of course, there are going to be some exceptions with this law, but they make sense for a number of reasons. For example, a person can use a phone to report a (1) traffic accident, (2) medical emergency, (3) fire, (4) crime, and (5) dangerous condition on the road.

One other thing too: You can use your hands if you are in a lawful parking space, like a grocery store or shopping center parking lot.

We sure hope you found this blog helpful about the new distracted driving law in Georgia, and hopefully, you don’t come across our page if you’ve been hurt in an accident by a distracted driver in Georgia. Let’s, instead, hope that our roads are a bit safer now for everyone in our state.

If you have any other questions about this law, feel free to give us a call about it. My direct number is (404) 566-8964. E-mails work too (kevin@patricktriallaw.com). Please always consider us a resource and friend to you!

Another nice article…

We’ll keep this blog post short and sweet:

There’s been another nice article about our firm and my memories of getting started several years ago…

After working at a large law firm for several years, I began to get the ‘itch’ and had an entrepreneurial spirit. I decided to start my own practice at 31. My wife and I had a three-month-old son. At first, it was pretty scary because I left without any cases and had a fair amount of start-up costs. All this being said, three years later, I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for including our thoughts about starting a law firm @MyCorporation! Check out all of the other stories here!

One Sentence Rules for Success!

We were thrilled to find out that we were featured as one of the entrepreneurs and impactors in The Startup digital newsletter.  It is truly the little things (or perhaps big things), like showing up on time, focusing on our job, and staying positive, in the practice of law and life too that matter and have a great impact on our clients. We hope you’ll get a chance to check out all of other contributions from people in all different business about their one sentence rules for success — A lot of great content. Thanks again for including us!

How to report a daycare accident in Georgia?

Over the past few weeks, we have received a number of questions about daycare accidents because it’s one of our specialized areas of practice. One of the first questions we get after a daycare accident in Georgia is — How do we report it? It’s a great question because parents are understandably concerned about the next steps after a daycare injury, and it’s an especially hard time because parents also need to take a good bit of time to make sure that their child is getting medical treatment (and probably looking for another daycare too).

We are here to help, and let’s walk through it together:

First things first, it’s important to know exactly who is in charge of reporting and investigating a daycare injury. The daycare is responsible for informing Bright from the Start, which is the state agency tasked with monitoring daycares in Georgia, about it right away. But, yes, you probably guessed — It doesn’t always happen.

So what should you do? Where do you go to do it?

You may instinctually want to ask the daycare to investigate it, but again, it can be a bit awkward, especially considering that your child was just hurt at that very daycare. There’s an easier approach though — Get in touch with Bright from the Start. There is actually a division that handles complaints and investigates daycare injuries in Georgia.

Now, you are probably wondering “How do I find it?”

You’ll want to go to the Contact Us — Child Care Services for Bright from the Start. (FYI — We’ve imbedded the link for you.)

Ok, so now you are there, and you’re probably seeing a lot of contacts:

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 9.41.41 AM

So where to next…?

If you look over three tabs — 2MLK, next ASU, and then you’ll see Complaint. CLICK ON IT. It will take you to this screen:

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 9.44.37 AM

You really have two options — You can call the CCS complaint number or send them an e-mail. Both are great ways to report the incident — The investigators are professional, courteous, and great at their job!

Do try to make their life easy as there are unfortunately a number of investigations, complaints, etc. during any given day for daycare injuries in Georgia. A quick couple of pointers:

(1) Have the name, address, and contact for the daycare available for them when you call to report the incident.

(2) Be prepared to give a statement to the investigators so you’ll want to have a chronology ready for them with names of employees (if you know them), as well as steps you took after you found out about the incident, such as when you picked up your child, where your child was treated, etc. Details are very important!!!

(3) Remember: One call, that’s all 😉

We completely understand that it’s a stressful time for you and your family. Multiple calls about the status seem helpful at first glance because it shows you care, but it actually slows down the process because it will take time away from the investigative process. Sure, there are times when you may need to follow-up, but do try to limit the calls to new, pertinent information about the incident, like a companion police investigation.

We hope you found this information helpful about daycare investigations in Georgia. As a parent, I truly understand the headache when you learn that your child has been hurt in a daycare accident. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions about this process — We’re here to help. My number is (404) 566-8964 and can be reached at Kevin@patricktriallaw.com. Thanks for reading our blog!!

How to implement a “Litigation Hold” after a catastrophic injury?

After a catastrophic injury (or really any other serious accident, like a truck wreck or commercial automobile accident) in Georgia counties, such as Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Decatur, it is important not only to have the at-fault party save certain information and documentation, but you should have them implement a “Litigation Hold” too. This term sounds a bit complex; however, we can help distill it for you and share with you some of our sample, language:

Routine Document Destruction Programs

Oftentimes, companies have systems in place that will get rid of documents every so-many days. Think about a surveillance feed at restaurant or a hotel — It will usually overwrite every thirty days. You don’t want to let this happen in a catastrophic injury case in Georgia because you would loose valuable information about the accident itself and, ultimately, may not be able to prove your case without it. REMEMBER — A plaintiff has the burden of proof “beyond a preponderance of evidence” in a civil lawsuit in Georgia .

So here’s some sample language about what to say:

 Any routine document destruction programs (e.g., shredding or the recycling of backup tapes) must be discontinued immediately, and all hard copy files and electronically stored information that may be relevant, whether stored onsite or offsite, must be secured and preserved….  

Identifying Key Individuals

Another important consideration is having the at-fault company in Georgia to take the step of identifying/specifying employees, etc. that have the responsibility of keeping evidence and thus implementing the litigation hold. They can be record custodians, IT personnel, employees, officers, directors, and even legal counsel. The key is making sure the company doesn’t plead ignorance, i.e. “We didn’t know what to do,” and this type of letter basically tells the what to do.

Here’s some more sample language:

You are directed to identify all employees, personnel, and other persons who have access to potentially relevant documents, data and information and notify them in writing of the Litigation Hold…. 

Monitoring & Compliance

To close out the letter, please consider making sure that the company that caused the accident in Georgia knows to follow-up and be vigilant about the litigation hold. A great example — New employees don’t always know about accidents that may have happened before their hire date, but nevertheless, they may still need to do things in their current job with holding information about the accident. So let them know too!

A last bit of sample language:

You are further directed to monitor compliance with the Litigation Hold including periodic follow-ups with the Noticed Persons and notices to new employees regarding the Litigation Hold to insure that documents, including ESI, are not destroyed inadvertently….

In sum, litigation holds are a very important part of building a personal injury case in Georgia, especially when it involves a serious injury. Our firm routinely sends them out, and make sure that you (or your attorney) do the same. It’s simply good practice.

Feel free to let us know if you have any more questions about catastrophic injuries or would like to see one of our full letters in cases. We’re here for you: Kevin@patricktriallaw.com or (404) 566-8964. Our personal injury cases have stretched throughout Georgia, and our offices are close to those of you in Brookhaven and Chamblee. Happy to travel to you too!

What items should a trucking company save after a collision?

Building off the earlier blog post about preservation/spoliation of evidence after a truck wreck in Georgia, it’s perhaps equally important to know what to request that the trucking company along with the driver, and even the insurance company preserve after a collision. Each case is admittedly different, but there are some common things. We thought it would be helpful to make a “Top 10”  list (of sorts) of those items for you:

10. The daily logs for the driver of the subject vehicle on the day of the collision and the eight (8) day period preceding the collision;

9. The daily inspection reports on the subject vehicle for the day of the collision and the eight (8) day period preceding the collision;

8. All maintenance, inspection, service and repair records or work orders for the subject vehicle involved in this collision for the previous two (2) years;

7. Annual and other periodic inspection reports for subject vehicle involved in this collision;

6. Driver of the subject vehicle’s complete driver’s qualification file including, but not limited to: a. Application for employment; b. CDL license; c. Driver’s certification of prior traffic violations; d. Driver’s certification of prior collisions; e. Driver’s employment history; f. Inquiry into driver’s employment history; g. Pre-employment MVR; h. Annual MVR; i. Annual review of driver history; j. Certification of road test;
k. Medical Examiner’s certificate; and, l. Drug testing records.

5. Photographs of the vehicles involved in this collision or the collision scene;

4. Driver’s post-collision alcohol and drug testing results;

3. Any lease contracts or agreements covering the driver or the subject truck involved;

2. Any data or printout from on-board recording devices, including but not limited to the Engine Control Module (ECM), Event Data Records (EDR), black box or similar instrument on the truck involved in this collision;in this collision; and,

1. Any post-collision maintenance, inspection, service or repair records or invoices for the subject vehicle.

While those items certainly round out the top ten, there are a number of other valuable pieces of information to preserve after a trucking collision in Georgia. Here are the “Honorable Mentions” for our list:

1. Any e-mails, electronic messages, letters, memos, reports or other documents concerning this collision;

2. The collision register maintained by the motor carrier as required by federal law for the one (1) year period preceding this collision;

3. Any drivers manuals, guidelines, rules or regulations given to drivers;

4. Any reports, memos, notes, logs or other documents evidencing complaints about the driver; and,

5. Any DOT or State Department reports, memos, notes or correspondence concerning the driver or the subject vehicle involved in this collision.

These items can be requested by sending a formal letter, which is often referred to as a “Litigation Hold Letter” or “Spoliation Letter,” to the trucking company, driver, and insurance company. It’s always a good idea to send it right away by overnight mail and fax. (Quick tip  —  In some situations, you may want to even consider using a courier to deliver it to the register agent on the very same day.)  As always, feel free to let us know if you ever have any questions about trucking accidents in Georgia. My e-mail is kevin@patricktriallaw.com and direct number is (404) 566-8964.