Legal News & Updates

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.

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!

What is a limited liability release?

There are generally two types of possible releases to sign after a you get close to settling a case in Georgia: A General Release and a Limited Liability Release. So what’s the difference between them? What one should I sign? What does a limited liability release look like? Well, let’s take each one of those questions in turn:

First things first, always be careful when an insurance company hands you a general release. A general release is a settlement document that settles virtually everything in a case. You are releasing absolutely everyone “known and unknown” that may have been responsible for your injuries. With a limited liability release, as the name suggests, you are limiting it to certain people or entities. For example, you may settle with one the person who caused the car accident, but can still go on to pursue your on UM, which means under/uninsured benefits through your insurance company.”

As a practical matter, second, your default should pretty much always be a Limited Liability Release given the risks of a signing a General Release. This situation often comes up in the context of an automobile accident with a ‘minimum limits’ at-fault driver. Georgia law only requires that people carry $25,000 in insurance coverage. If a person hits you and your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, etc. exceed that amount, a Limited Liability Release will be the way for you to come back to your own insurance company for compensation.

Finally, you probably are wondering exactly what a Limited Liability Release looks like in Georgia. Here’s a template of one (with our usual disclaimer that’s not offered for legal advice):

LIMITED RELEASE PURSUANT TO O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1

______________________, (“the UNDERSIGNED”), for and in consideration of the sum of ___________ ($__________), to the UNDERSIGNED, in hand paid, receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged, does hereby and for the heirs, executors, administrators, successors and assigns of the UNDERSIGNED acquit, remise, release, and forever discharge:

(1)       _________ __________________ (“INSURANCE CARRIER”) with regard to Policy No. _______________; from any and all claims, demands, rights, and causes of action of whatsoever kind and nature, including but not limited to, all known and unknown bodily and personal injuries of the UNDERSIGNED, all hospital bills, doctor bills, drug bills, and other medical expenses, that belong to the UNDERSIGNED or which may hereafter accrue to the UNDERSIGNED on account of or resulting from the incident, casualty or event which occurred on or about ________________ near or around ______________(“INCIDENT”); and

(2)       _______________________  (“LIMITED RELEASEE”), except to the extent other insurance coverage is available which covers the claim or claims of the UNDERSIGNED against the LIMITED RELEASEE, from any and all claims, demands, rights, and causes of action of whatsoever kind and nature, including but not limited to, all known and unknown bodily and personal injuries of the UNDERSIGNED, all hospital bills, doctor bills, drug bills, and other medical expenses, that belong to the UNDERSIGNED or which may hereafter accrue to the UNDERSIGNED on account of or resulting from the INCIDENT.

All parties acknowledge that the payment referenced herein does not make whole nor fully compensate the UNDERSIGNED for losses sustained as a result of the INCIDENT.

This Limited Release is entered into pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41.1, and its force and effect shall be as contemplated by that statute.  This Limited Release does not release INSURANCE CARRIER with regard to other insurance policies issued to LIMITED RELEASEE or to any other person or entity, including the UNDERSIGNED, and the UNDERSIGNED maintains all rights to pursue recovery with regard to insurance policies not identified by policy number herein.

This Limited Release shall not release any persons or entities not specifically named.

All parties deny liability, and all parties may deny liability in any future action.

The UNDERSIGNED understands that the injuries sustained are or may be permanent and progressive and that recovery is uncertain and indefinite.  The UNDERSIGNED has relied wholly upon his or her own the judgment, belief and knowledge as to the nature, extent, effect and duration of said injuries and liability, if any, and such is made without reliance upon any statement or representation of any other person.  The UNDERSIGNED acknowledges that no promise, inducement, or agreement not herein expressed has been made and that this Limited Release contains the entire agreement between the parties.  The UNDERSIGNED is 18 years of age or older, of sound mind and laboring under no disabilities.  The foregoing representations are made in order for the parties released hereby to rely upon them in effecting this Limited Release.

The UNDERSIGNED acknowledges prior receipt of this Limited Release and that it is notice in writing of lack of consent of the LIMITED RELEASEE to this settlement and that the this Limited Release does not preclude the LIMITED RELEASEE from asserting claims against the UNDERSIGNED.

The UNDERSIGNED agrees to take reasonable steps to satisfy or otherwise resolve valid and enforceable liens accrued as a result of the UNDERSIGNED’s alleged injuries arising out of the INCIDENT and agrees to effect necessary probate matters, if any, in due course.

This ________ day of ___________, 20___.

___________________________

[Insert name of release]

Sworn to and subscribed before me,

This _____ day of _______, 20___.

____________________________

Notary Public

In short, be careful what you sign and talk to a lawyer first. We’re here to help so feel free to give us a call or send a message anytime: (404) 566-8964 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com

Pro Bono Representation: A Bond Forged between a Naval Officer and Trial Lawyer

Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.

 -Abraham Lincoln

Officer Motes’ Reflections:

I have always been given the short end of the stick as they say and being a veteran doesn’t make it any better. We are always praised for our years of service, but when in fact, we’re treated just the same and in some cases, very differently from the common civilian, which shouldn’t be the case for those individuals who make the ultimate sacrifice by serving for their country. When I was rear ended in a traffic accident in July of 2016, I was extremely skeptical about pursuing any action against the young man who caused the accident and his insurance carrier.  I was in pain, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to get the run-around by the big time lawyers from his insurance company so what’s the point of even trying.”

I was so happy that I decided to pull the trigger and move forward with my case. I honestly recommend any person, especially veterans, to consult with a lawyer before you make any decision. Lawyers know what they are doing and without a lawyer having my back and going the extra mile each day, I am sure that my outcome would have been much different (and not in a good way). My case was settled much faster and everything went smoothly. At the end of the day, I was able to sleep clearly because I knew I had a lawyer in my corner guiding me through this difficult time. Most people never think about getting a lawyer until something happens to them. I can truly say that I am a veteran who has been shown the right way to be treated by a lawyer.

 

Kevin Patrick’s Reflections:

Over the years, I have become accustomed to standing for the national anthem, thanking a soldier quietly at the airport, and making donations to wounded soldier projects. I never quite felt though like I knew a veteran on a personal level or understood the unique challenges facing veterans in our community. The words of Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” began to resonate more and more with me with each and every passing day. As a trial lawyer, I longed for an opportunity to make an active and meaningful difference in the life of a veteran and help dispel the popular myth that lawyers prefer to advance their own self-serving agendas.

Officer Motes and I initially met under challenging circumstances in early-July of 2016. He was hurt because of an automobile collision. Despite this difficult situation, Officer Motes’ inherent qualities, like courage and loyalty, were very evident. Most importantly, Officer Motes embodied the naval motto: Non sibi, sed patriae. He always had and still would put his country above himself. Officer Motes taught me an important lesson about pro bono service that transcends all practice areas:  We have the ability to use our respective talents to give back to those individuals that are willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect our Constitution. Veterans are not mere statistics, but rather they are very real people. On behalf of all layers, we salute you, Officer Motes.

Congratulations to Jacqueline Boatwright-Daus!!!

We want to extend a special congratulations to Mrs. Georgia International Jacqueline Boatwright-Daus. She was recently invited to the Pentagon to speak with senior members about the continued importance of daycare safety and the need for improved regulations.

As many of you know, Jaimg_3462ckie is known as the woman who single handedly changed the face of child day care in Georgia through her advocacy which resulted in the passage of Juan’s Law in 2004 named in honor of her late son who died as a result of injuries sustained at his state licensed child care center. Her tenacious fight for change was again victorious in the state of Virginia who also passed Juan’s Law in 2006. She took her fight to the United States Capitol and gained another success for her cause with the passagimg_3463e of The Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Act in 2009.

Jackie is truly carrying on the legacy of   beautiful son Juan. A tragic situation at a daycare, like the one that happened to Jackie’s son, should never have to happen again! We all can cary on Juan’s legacy by continuing to reach out to local and national officials to make sure that the topic of daycare negligence stays on their agendas each and every leadership session. At the very core, the safety and well-being of our children is cause that should unify all members of legislative body in Georgia and our county.

For more information on daycare negligence or ways to become involved in helping with our efforts to improve the standard of care in daycares across Georgia and the country, please contact us at (404) 566-8964 or kevin@patricktriallaw.com. We are one of the few firms in Georgia with a practice specifically focusing on daycare negligence. You can also visit Jackie’s website for more details on becoming involved in this noble and wonderful cause. Together we can truly make positive changes in our community and, most importantly, prevent daycare negligence.

The Importance of a Right to a Trial by Jury

          Congratulations to Dillan and Isaiah! They were the winners of the 2016 Kevin Patrick Law Essay Contest. This year’s topic was “Why is the right to a trial by a jury of our peers such an important part of the Constitution?”  These two students offered wonderful insights into the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We are highlighting for you portions of their essays:

Dillan’s Essay

       The balancing act of justice. The Constitution of the United States of America was written in 1787 by 4 of 7 America’s founding fathers. And they were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. One of the founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, came to America alone at the age of 15.       

         Sixth Amendment guarantees a cluster of rights designed to make criminal prosecutions more accurate and fair under the law. The institutions of American criminal justice have changed to an extent that is clearly noticeable over the past several centuries, forcing courts to consider how old rights apply to new institutions and procedures. At that time there were local sheriffs but no professionalized police forces; instead ordinary men took turns serving as a peace officer with limited policing authority, typically in a small town.

         […]

          Jury service is the most common way in which citizens are able to have a direct role in our country’s judicial process. 

Isaiah’s Essay

          A jury of one’s peers does not mean a black defendant must be tried by a black jury or a female defendant must be tried by an woman panel. The objective is to select an impartial jury from a randomly selected juror pool who will be fair, listen to the facts of the case, and render and just verdict based on the evidence.

          Serving on a jury is the most direct and impactful way for citizens to connect to the constitution. It is more active and participatory than voting. Citizens can help perpetuate our system of laws, and stabilize our democracy. For a jury pool, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that courts may not remove a potential juror based solely on his or her race or gender.

          […]

       At Kevin Patrick Law, we believe that our work extends well-beyond the courtroom. We strive to be part of the community. If we can ever assist you or your organization, then please feel free to get in touch with us at kevin@patricktriallaw.com or (404) 566-8964.