Personal Injury
Just what is a personal injury case? It is when a person is injured by some other person, or an object, or a thing. When lawyers speak of personal injury cases, they are not usually referring to a worker's compensation case. It's a case that normally sparks the liability of another person and his insurance company.

Why experience and a caring attitude is important.

Take this scenario, from an actual case of Fred Pharis:

A woman was traveling on a bridge crossing over an interstate highway. A man in an old pickup truck, believing he was still on the interstate, traveled up the off ramp, ignored a stop sign, and struck the woman's car from the side, pinning her in her car and severely injuring her leg. Knee surgery provided a metal plate that later was removed through an additional surgery. Needless to say, her pain and medical bills were great. The man did not have much insurance. The woman did not have underinsurance coverage from her own insurance company, so when the man's insurance paid the minimum for her injuries, she only had $5,000.00 worth of medical payments coverage to pay the medical bills, so her medical insurance, provided by her work, picked up the majority of the bills. After the case was settled, the medical insurer claimed to woman owed it personally to them to reimburse them out of her meager insurance settlement. After several calls to the woman, she reported the harassment to Pharis Law Offices. Fred Pharis knew the "law of partial subrogation," which merely states that when an injured person is not adequately compensated from the insurance company of the person who harmed her for her pain, suffering, and mental anguish, the person's own insurer cannot demand reimbursement from that small amount, because it would be unfair. Fred Pharis stopped the harassing phone calls and protected the woman's settlement.

Would this case have been zealously prosecuted by the personal injury mills?
High profile personal injury firms often advertise for the purpose of getting a high volume of cases. The best cases are kept and the rest are thrown back like so many undersized fish. Or, the case is not as actively prosecuted because the issues become burdensome or demand too much of the attorney's time. For example, the following case was prosecuted by Fred Pharis. Would a mill have gone this far?

A man was driving his boss's taxi when rear-ended by a one-ton pickup truck pulling a loaded horse trailer. The man's back pain got progressively worse, forcing him to consult neurosurgeons in Shreveport. The trailer/truck was severely underinsured. The taxi owner/boss did not want to reveal that there was an additional $10,000.00 of insurance on the taxi itself, and was forced to come to court twice before he revealed the name of the insurance company. When that insurance company was sued, they defended on the basis of a "livery" exclusion in the policy. Through research, Fred Pharis zealous prosecuted the case, and threatening action against the insurance company for wrongfully withholding the funds, forced the company to settle for the full amount of the policy.

Or the following case:

A man and his wife were in their car at a stop sign when an unlicensed, teenage driver, turning right onto the clients' street, panicked and hit the accelerator rather than the brake when she realized she could not cut the turn tight enough. The left side of the client's car was literally crushed when the teenager's car rolled over it like a tank. The woman was more severely hurt than her husband and was unable to function as a real estate agent for several months. The biggest issue, other than the personal injury itself, was the loss of income from the woman's real estate business for the time she was unable to work. Lost profits is the single hardest item of damages to prove in any case. Fred Pharis presented to the court a comprehensive picture of the woman's work history, with testimony and sales records from her present and previous employers. The judge awarded a substantial amount for the lost income, which the defending insurance company refused to even talk about during failed pre-trial settlement negotiations.

If you are injured and have a novel issue to prosecute or a hard case, don't think that you'll necessarily be treated as well by a large personal injury factory as with a smaller firm. You may get a better, more thorough prosecution of your case. At Pharis Law Offices, we pride ourselves in representing the person, not prosecuting just another case.

Insurance Alert - don't be caught with too little
This scenario has played itself out time and again at my office.

A client comes in and has suffered moderate injuries in an automobile accident, caused totally by the fault of the other driver. He or she has medical bills owing, can't work for at least a period of time and doesn't know what's going to happen with regard to eventual recovery. It turns out that there is a serious medical problem, with a knee, a back, a neck, a hand, or a foot. Surgery is required. However, there is no private health insurance to pay for this. Or, the accident happened while the client was on a mission for the employer, so the medical bills are taken care of. Unfortunately, the person at fault only has bare minimum of coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage, which is designed to pay you damages over and above the limits that the person who is fault chooses, has not been taken out by my client, or is grossly inadequate. So, what happens to the client's claim?

If the client is lucky, there will be enough money for payment for the surgery either through workers' comp or the other person's insurance. However, workers' compensation is entitled to be reimbursed fully for the money the w.c. insurer has spent. Medical services providers have "liens," or preferences to be paid, also. And, it's entirely possible that there will not be enough money to go around just for the surgery, much less to pay for lost wages and pain and suffering... Do you really need that knee surgery that the doctor recommends? Is physical therapy that important to you if you need to recover? Yes, you should follow your doctor's advice. But, if there's not enough insurance to go around, and you've been out of work, it's sometimes a choice between groceries for the family or needed medical services. Families usually come first.

If only the client had paid extra for uninsured motorist benefits, he or she wouldn't be endangering his family's financial health because of doctor's bills, loss of use of the car, or inability to work. And, he or she wouldn't be bitter when he thinks about the pain and agony some injuries inflict on the human body, and the fact that there is no compensation for that aspect of the claim.

Before you say, oh, the pain and suffering, that's what's wrong with our system, too many people claiming a bad back or a vague pain and they want thousands of dollars. Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, consider the case of Moe, a fictional name for an actual client.

A family man, married, with two small children, a worker all his life, a part-time preacher, a wife who worked at local drugstore chain. A car pulled out in front of him and he ended up on a median with a smashed car and a damaged left knee. He hadn't been on his new job long enough to have private medical insurance. Medical bills ended up being almost $14,000.00 before the doctor-recommended knee surgery. Available insurance was $20,000.00, not enough left over for knee surgery. Moe limps around, needing medical treatment he just can't afford. He's understandably bitter about the fact that he can't get on the floor to play with his two daughters anymore, that most employer's don't want to take a chance on a man with limited physical abilities, and that he can only afford over the counter medications for the pain that comes back night after night.

Buy UM insurance, at least $100,000.00 worth, even more if you can afford it. With today's crowded highways, you just don' t know if you'll be next.

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