Monday, 29 September 2014 14:52

You Now Know: The Real Party in Interest

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Juries are only allowed to know certain things. The judge serves as gatekeeper of what evidence the jury should know. Whether insurance exists is almost never disclosed to the jury.

The rule is called the “real party in interest” rule. If I sue Adam and Adam has a million dollar insurance policy with Aetna, I can only refer to Adam in the pleadings, in the courtroom and in the jury instructions. To mention Aetna would be an error which could result in a mistrial.

The psychology behind the real party in interest rule is that there should be no prejudice to the defendant, because the jury would assume the insurance company was wealthy. A problem from the opposite side can occur when the jury has sympathy for the defendant, because they figure if insurance had been involved the jury would have been told about it.

I always remind my jurors of their oath not to let sympathy for either side affect their verdict – that it is my job to collect the verdict; their job is to determine liability and assess damages.

hashtag_x_blog

It’s no secret where Law Offices of Gary Green stands on the texting and driving issue – don’t do it! It endangers not only you, but everyone around you. With that in mind, we’re excited about the arrival of a new hashtag – #X – meant to alert your friends and family that you’re driving and can’t talk at the moment.

AT&T is encouraging drivers to use the new hashtag as a way to momentarily check out of a conversation. By slipping “#X” into a text convo or posting it to a social media site before you get behind the wheel, you can let your friends and family know that you’re not ignoring them – you’re waiting to respond until you’ve safely arrived at your destination.

Here are some more tips on incorporating this and other lifesaving tools into your routine, from AT&T’s It Can Wait campaign:

  • Use #X. Just send “#X” to end your text, email, and social conversations before you start your vehicle. It’s a simple and effective way to eliminate a dangerous distraction. It means, “I’m checking out while I drive. Back soon.”
  • Download the DriveMode app, which silences incoming text messages while you’re driving. More than a million people have downloaded the app so far.
  • Visit ItCanWait.com. Make a pledge with your loved one to never text and drive.
  • Follow the movement. Follow @ItCanWait on Twitter for all the latest news.
  • Find your own “Drive Mode.” Create a routine that helps you avoid the temptation to text while driving. It could be #X, DriveMode, or another app; hands-free technology; or even just turning your phone to silent – whatever works for you.
  • Please share the It Can Wait message with your friends, family, and loved ones. No text is worth their life!

We generally use the gGreen.com blog as a space to keep our friends, family, clients, and community informed. We especially like to highlight laws – such as those against texting and driving or when pedestrians have the right-of-way – that promote safety and reward awareness.

Today we’ve decided to cull from our state’s rich history those Arkansas laws, codes, and ordinances that have fallen by the wayside and that, while still technically on the books, seem outdated and often hilarious by today’s standards.

First in this new series is the officially sanctioned pronunciation of the Arkansas state name, from Little Rock city leaders in 1881:

Arkansas Code § 1-4-105. ”Be it therefore resolved by both houses of the General Assembly, that the only true pronunciation of the name of the state, in the opinion of this body, is that received by the French from the native Indians and committed to writing in the French word representing the sound. It should be pronounced in three (3) syllables, with the final “s” silent, the “a” in each syllable with the Italian sound, and the accent on the first and last syllables. The pronunciation with the accent on the second syllable with the sound of “a” in “man” and the sounding of the terminal “s” is an innovation to be discouraged.”

(“Ar-kan-saw” is a French pronunciation of a Siouxan word meaning “land of downriver people” and pronunciation was officially established as a resolution in 1881. No punishment is enforced for mispronunciation.)

We hope this new, lighthearted series gives you a chuckle; it certainly did us!

Sources: Virtually Legal, Digest of the Laws and Ordinances of the City of Little Rock

Monday, 22 September 2014 13:36

Think about Fire Safety NOW, not Later!

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

As cooler temperatures approach, I start thinking about fires. I love fireplaces and fire pits and brush piles that need to be burned. We’re also getting ready to fire up our heaters for the first time this season, so now’s a good time to think about fire safety.

  1. Think about it now. If you wake up to a fire in your home, what’s Plan B in case your Plan A exit is blocked?
  2. Where’s the smoke alarm? Might want to test it.
  3. Where’s the closest fire extinguisher, and is it properly charged?

To me, these are the three big ones. I’m sure there are hundreds of other issues to consider when talking about fires. Yes, have your flues serviced. Don’t start fires with gasoline; don’t use unvented heat; don’t smoke in bed; no open flames outside the firebox.

Think about safety always, but please think about 1, 2, and 3 now!

UM is Uninsured Motorist Coverage and UIM is Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Both types of insurance are purchased through your car insurance agency to protect you in the event you are hit by someone with no insurance or very little insurance.

Arkansas only requires motorists to have $25,000 of coverage, so if you have catastrophic injuries, the cost of medical bills can often surpass policy limits with just one emergency visit.

Protect yourself by looking into UM/UIM coverage today.

There’s a new auto recall making headlines recently, and it’s a big one: Takata, the leading Japanese manufacturer of vehicle safety parts, is under fire for selling faulty airbags to at least ten different automakers beginning as early as 2001.

The airbags have been recalled due to their potential to rupture when deployed and spray bits of shrapnel into drivers and front-seat passengers. So far, 2 deaths and more than 30 injuries have been linked to flawed Takata airbags in Honda vehicles alone. Regulators claim that Takata airbags used by other automakers have caused more than 139 injuries.

After years of denial, Takata has finally acknowledged the rupture risk of its airbags, and several automakers – including BMW, Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and Chrysler – have issued recalls.

Here’s the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s list of the vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall as of August 2014:

Vehicles Affected by Takata Airbag Recall

MAKE
MODEL
YEAR(S)
AcuraMDX 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
AcuraTL2002, 2003
AcuraCL2002, 2003
AcuraRL2005
BMW325XI2002
BMW325CI2001, 2003
BMW325I2004
BMW330I2004
BMW330CI2001, 2003
BMW330XI2001, 2002, 2003
FordGT2005, 2006
FordMustang2005, 2006, 2007
FordRanger2004
HondaElement2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
HondaPilot2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
Honda CR-V2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
Honda Civic2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Honda Accord2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007
HondaOdyssey2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
Honda Ridgeline2006
InfinitiFX452003, 2004, 2005
InfinitiFX352003, 2004, 2005
InfinitiI352003, 2004
LexusSC4302003, 2004, 2005
MitsubishiLancer2004, 2005
NissanMaxima2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
NissanPathfinder2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
NissanSentra2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
PontiacVibe2003, 2004, 2005
Saab9-2X2005
SubaruOutback2003, 2004, 2005
SubaruBaja2003, 2004, 2005
SubaruLegacy2003, 2004, 2005
SubaruImpreza2004, 2005
ToyotaMatrix2003, 2004, 2005
ToyotaTundra2003, 2004, 2005
ToyotaCorolla2003, 2004, 2005
ToyotaSequoia2003, 2004, 2005

Sources: International Business Times, Forbes, SaferCar.gov

Monday, 15 September 2014 14:37

What to Do when Stopped by the Police!

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Maybe not as funny as Chris Rock, but we’ll cover the basics:

1. Be polite. Be respectful. “Yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” go a long way. That’s not to say you can’t be yourself, converse, and ask questions. Just don’t be argumentative or sarcastic.

2. Follow the Golden Rule. Put yourself in the shoes of the policeman. Realize the police pull over some crazy characters; it’s a safety issue for them. Before I asked some police friends what they preferred to happen when they stopped someone, I assumed they’d want me to get out of my car and go to them, pulling my driver’s license out of my wallet on the way. Wrong! Stay in your car. Hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Turn your engine and radio off. Put your phone down. Roll down the window on the side the officer is approaching, and await his instruction rather than digging around for your license and registration beforehand.

3. Don’t even think about trying to run away!

 

Friday, 12 September 2014 15:38

When Routine Medical Procedures Go Wrong

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Everyone makes mistakes. When we’re lucky, our mistakes are small enough to go unnoticed and have no ramifications. Doctors and nurses, however, live in a world where the effects of their mistakes can range from inconvenient to absolutely devastating.

Medical errors can involve medication, diagnosis, surgery, lab reports, or any other aspect of our complex healthcare system. Most of the time, patients breeze through routine medical procedures as expected; but in some unfortunate cases, something goes awry and a mistake is made.

We still don’t know what exactly caused Joan Rivers to go into cardiac arrest while undergoing a procedure, but we do know that these things can happen to anyone and that skilled medical professionals are as prone to blunders as the rest of us.

The proof is in the headlines: last December in Oakland, California, a 13-year-old girl was left brain dead after a routine tonsillectomy. Last October in Maryland, a 54-year-old man suffered complications from a routine colonoscopy that took his life and left his family reeling. Just earlier this year, Law Offices of Gary Green received a $6M verdict for the plaintiff following complications during the birth of the plaintiff’s daughter.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), the best way you can prevent errors is to be an active member of your healthcare team. Here are just a few tips from ahrq.gov on how you can take part in every decision regarding your treatment and get safer care:

  • Make sure that all of your doctors know about every single prescription and over-the-counter medicine, supplement, and vitamin you’re taking.
  • Make sure your doctor knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you’ve had to medicines.
  • When your doctor writes a prescription for you, make sure you can read it.
  • Ask for information about the medicine you’re prescribed in clear terms that you can understand: what’s it for; when you take it and for how long; what the side effects are; if it may interact with other medicines you’re taking; if there are any foods, drinks, or activities you should avoid while on the medicine, etc.
  • If you are having surgery, make sure that you, your doctor, and your surgeon agree on exactly what will be done.
  • If you have a choice, choose a hospital where many patients have had the procedure or surgery you need. Research shows results are better when patients are treated in hospitals that have a great deal of experience with their condition.
  • Make sure that all of your doctors have your important health information.
  • Ask a family member or friend to go to appointments with you.
  • If you have a test, do not assume that no news is good news. Ask how and when you will get the results.
  • And most importantly: speak up if you have questions or concerns. You have a right to question anyone who is involved with your care.

Source: ahrq.gov (Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality)

Wednesday, 10 September 2014 14:16

Pedestrian Right-of-Way

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

A common misconception is that “pedestrians always have the right-of-way” on roads, without exception. In the State of Arkansas, pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks. However, Arkansas Code Annotated § 27-51-1204 states, “Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.” Always use a crosswalk when crossing the street!

 

Monday, 8 September 2014 14:51

PIP & Med Pay: What’s the Difference?

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

PIP (Personal Injury Protection) and Med Pay (Medical Payments) insurance are coverage terms that tend to be used interchangeably. My experience is that PIP usually refers to first party coverage for the owner of the policy (the driver of his or her own car), his or her passengers, and pedestrians. This type of coverage includes medical payments, lost wages, and disability. Med Pay usually refers to medical payments coverage in addition to liability coverage (and is available to first or third parties). Both PIP and Med Pay are paid without regard to fault.

Companies that pay PIP or Med Pay often request repayment by subrogation. These requests cannot be ignored. They usually can be dealt with favorably for our clients. Refusal to subrogate is based on the argument that our client has not been made whole. The key is to get the company which claims a subrogation interest to formally abandon the claim, or to set the matter for declaratory judgment.

It is no longer enough to get the company which claims a subrogation interest to reduce their claim. (In the past, one could rely upon the Arkansas Statute which recognized a 1/3 cost of collection fee to the plaintiff’s attorney for collecting the subrogation interest.)

If your client has no insurance of any kind, the client might qualify to receive Med Pay benefits under the defendant’s policy. This normally requires the client to sign and submit and affidavit of no insurance.

Finally, when negotiating an underinsured motorist claim (UIM), require that any offers made are to be in addition to a complete waiver of any subrogation interest.