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Personal Injury Law Round-Up #43

I apologize for the short issue. Not only is it a slow week, but we’re getting ready for a medical malpractice trial starting next Monday. The blog and PI round-up provide a nice escape, but I don’t have enough time to escape enough to scan the globe for the usual stories.

We’ll start off with tort “reform” and lawyer conduct.

Professor Lester Brickman of Cardozo School of Law has a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece alleging that the DOJ is giving lawyers and doctors a free pass for committing tort fraud. There is a response in the WSJ law blog. But here’s my question for Brickman: Why isn’t he concerned about defense lawyers and their doctors? In most of my substantial cases, the defense asks for an “independent medical exam” or has my client’s medical records reviewed by a “medical review” physician. The inevitable result is that I receive a cookie-cutter report that my client is either not injured or his or her injuries resulted from something other than the defendant’s conduct. On the other hand, in most cases, we use our clients’ treating physicians as experts. We don’t often have any prior relationship with these medical providers, and we certainly have no influence over their positions. If there is any potential for abuse in the system, I certainly think it is on the defense side, and I urge Brickman to look into that.

Damage caps continued to be the rage. Last week we reported that the Oregon Supreme Court tossed out that state’s damage caps. Now, the Ohio Supreme Court has upheld Ohio’s caps.

The Los Angeles Times has also chimed in with an article on California’s caps. The story looks the case of a Calif doctor who couldn’t find a med mal lawyer after his mother died following surgery. Eric Turkewitz has a post on it (another tort “reformer” sees the light).

And finally, a West Virginia Supreme Court justice writes on the absurd results caused by that state’s caps and tort reform laws.

Turkewitz also has a post about an obvious push poll on tort reform from New York State Senator Stephen Saland.

Doctor Sandeep Jauhar has a great NYT commentary on the phenomena of doctors apologizing for their medical malpractice. He is right on the money. I can’t tell you the number of times a client has come to me not because they were hurt, but because they were treated poorly after their injury. Looking past pride and admitting mistakes can be crucial to reducing future lawsuits (and yes, I realize this applies to attorneys as well as docs). I’ve written more about this here.

Riegel v Medtronics is also in the news again – this time from the New England Journal of Medicine. Via Ron Miller.

And on to litigation and actual law news.

Apparently the next poster case for tort reform groups is the case of a skier suing a 7 (or 8) year old kid. Walter Olson has a short post on it over at Overlawyered.

After a three month lapse, Florida motorists must once again carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage starting this week.

The San Diego Injury Lawyer Blog has a post on new California laws, including some affecting personal injury claims. For example, it’s now illegal to drive in California while using a cell phone without a hands-free device. Of course, Dan Deuterman, a Greensboro, NC personal injury lawyer, notes that North Carolina officials have been slow to enforce that state’s ban on teen cell phone use while driving.

Bill Marler has a series of posts on the potential for illness from raw milk. (I like Bill’s blog, but he’s making me a much more picky eater.)

Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer Evan Rosen reports that medical malpractice lawsuits are down. I know it’s true here in Texas.

On the car wreck front, a New York judge ruled that a student driver was not liable for injuries her wreck caused her driving inspector/passenger. The judge found that the inspector assumed the risk of injury by getting in the car with the student driver.

Staying with auto accidents, Hans Poppe has a look at Japanese drunk driving laws that reduced drunk driving by 41%. The law included making it illegal to be a passenger with a drunk driver. Certainly an appropriate post for January 1.

And on to the miscellaneous, almost-related-to-personal-injury stories.

Beyond Structured Settlements has a great recap of 2007 with some predictions for the structured settlement market in 2008.

The WSJ Health Blog declares 2007 the year of the bedbug. I’m not sure that this really relates to the personal injury world, but since reading it, I do pay more attention to my 4 year old’s nightly warnings not to let the bed bugs bite.

The Legal Blog Watch has “Do Beautiful Lawyers Have More Beautiful Careers” (via the Stark County Law Library Blog). I only mention this because this is a phenomenon also seen in trial. Juries treat people that are attractive and people that they like better than others. I don’t know how Colossus factors this in.

Thanks again for reading.

Brooks Schuelke

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