Was The Driver Who Hit Me Reckless?

Was the driver who hit me reckless?

You are driving along. You are following the safety rules. Then all of the sudden your car is struck. You didn’t see it coming. The other driver was going so fast. Are you a victim of reckless driving?

Whenever we review a personal injury case, we investigate to see if a driver was operating recklessly.

What is reckless driving?

Connecticut law provides that no person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any public highway of the state recklessly, having regard to the width, traffic and use of such highway, the intersection of streets and the weather conditions.

How do we determine if a driver is reckless? We look for the following factors:

1.  Was the person operating a motor vehicle recklessly when that person does so knowing or having reason to know of facts that create a high degree of risk of physical harm to another and deliberately proceeds to act in conscious disregard of, or with indifference to, that risk?

2.  Was a person operating a motor vehicle recklessly when that person knows or has reason to know of facts that create a high degree of risk?

3.   Was the operation of a motor vehicle upon any public highway at such a rate of speed as to endanger the life of any person other than the operator of the motor vehicle?

 4. Did the operation of a motor vehicle upon any public highway at a rate of speed greater than eighty-five miles per hour?

If any of those 4 factors are present, the person who caused your injuries may be responsible for reckless driving.

Reckless driving may entitle you to double or treble damages. That means 2 or 3 times the amount you would have been awarded in a wreck without reckless driving?

Reckless driving needs to be specially pleaded in a complaint.

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A Review of Clio Cloud Conference 2016

If you are reading this you are probably considering attending Clio Cloud Conference 2017 or you work for Clio. Either way, read on.

This is my attempt at reviewing Clio Cloud Conference 2016. Which is a difficult thing to do. There is one of me. There were numerous seminars. So my experience may be vastly different than what someone else experienced.

You should also understand my background. I’m very into legal tech. I spend a lot of time studying and refining my business and tech. A lot. Doing so allows me to better serve my clients. I am constantly trying new software. And implementing what I like. 

One of the first software investments I made when I went solo was to sign on with Clio. I did so in 2012. I have been with them consistently since then. I believe I was a “beta” subscriber. I believe that Clio is the best practice management software available to small firms and I recommend the product.

I don’t work for Clio. I paid my way to the conference. Clio gave me a shirt, a bag, and some great socks as take aways. None of which has impacted my review.

The Good:

Nobody puts on a better conference than Clio. From the second I walked in, I felt like I mattered. They thought of all sorts of ways to improve the attendee experience. The food was great. The Clio After Dark was fantastic. It was easy to find and talk to vendors. The Radisson Blu was swanky. The entire conference had a “cool” vibe. I don’t think Disney puts on a better production. The Clio staff was very helpful and friendly.

Some of the presenters were very good. I particularly enjoyed a presentation about hiring trends. I thought the session was both practical and insightful.

There was lots of tech, lots about Clio, and lots about business.

Yoga between sessions. Lots to like.

The Not So Good:

For as great of a production as the conference was – it was difficult to find the right room for a seminar. The online map provided in the conference app was useless as it did not label rooms the same way they were labeled on the agenda. This sounds strange. But I wasn’t the only one who had a tough time figuring out what room was what. I even walked into the wrong room and sat down in the wrong seminar. I felt bad leaving but I wasn’t the only one.

Bigger room signs would be nice. But the 2017 Conference is in New Orleans so that will be different.

Some of the presentations weren’t good. I’m not going to name names on this site because that would be rude. But some of them I gave poor reviews to. I felt like they were wastes of time. In the sense they were too general, too ambitious, too unfocused, and sometimes behind the curve.

The descriptions of seminars were sparse or non-existent. A few paragraphs on the conference website about the topics that were going to be discussed would have been nice. They could have then been put in the app. That would have solved some of my problems with me not feeling like some of the sessions were worth my time.

The Problem:

At any conference there are speakers that you’ll enjoy and one’s you won’t. And what is not insightful to me may feel revolutionary to someone else. And vice versa. I’m sure an HR person would have found the hiring seminar too basic.

I think the basic problem with Clio Conference is existential. What is it? Is it a cutting edge legal tech conference? Who is the audience? Should only tech geeks attend?  Should every session be general or narrow? It is hard to do a business development session in an hour. Is the audience big law or small law? Is it a place to learn Clio?

There was a seminar that I was particularly excited about. Without knowing it, I found myself sitting down with one of the presenters. My eyes lit up when I found that this person was presenting one of the 2 or 3 sessions that most interested me. I decided to use the opportunity to pick his brain. As we discussed the subject matter he said “I think you may be too advanced for this session….many people here don’t even know about this topic so I have to keep it basic”.

Said another way, there’s no reason to sell lawyers who are using facebook on the benefits of using facebook.

But that same session may have been worth the price of admission to someone else.

Verdict:

I changed my flight to leave the conference early on Tuesday. About noon. I was scheduled for a red eye but hopped on an afternoon flight back east. I felt my time was better spent getting home so I could see my kids before they went to bed and be ready to tackle Wednesday. The conference wasn’t for me.

Others stayed and loved it.

I hear Gary Vee was awesome.

I think the conference was very well done, very cool, just not for me.

What I’d like to see Clio do for 2017 is:

  1. Put the agenda and speakers out as soon as they come onboard. I think when I booked my ticket, I did so blindly. I went based on reputation and the strength of the 2015 speakers.
  2. Do seminar summaries. Keep them short. Even a few paragraphs. Even a blurb about “target audience”.
  3. Distribute slides from seminars online in the app.
  4. Think about the big picture. Who should go? What should they get from this? What is Clio Cloud Conference? And perhaps limit your focus areas. It’s really hard to do a broad “how to grow your business” talk in 30 minutes. What would have been preferable is a day of 30 minute speakers each exploring an idea or 2 that has worked for them. Then I could get actionable take aways.
  5. Bigger room signs.
  6. More vendors. One of the coolest things about the show was talking to vendors. I found the vendors to be very useful. At least the ones that were useful to my practice or that I wasn’t already using.
  7. Keep the keepers. You have a great vibe, great staff, great after hours party – there’s lots to like here.

I’m going to keep my eyes on the agenda for 2017. I hope to see blurbs about the seminars.

You are going to read a lot online about how much fun this conference is. Believe it. It’s a lot of fun. And if you want fun – sign up now for 2017. Get your early discount. You won’t regret it.

But my expectations were a little higher than “fun”. Ultimately, I place a very high premium on time away from my clients, business, and family. If I had to do it over again, I would have skipped the conference and spent a few days in Chicago with my wife. Again, your mileage may vary.

And if you are an associate at a large firm, and they’ll pay for it, by all means go.

I do think many of the problems that I encountered – including the decision to attend – could have been solved with more information about the substance and target audience of each session.

Who knows, maybe I’ll try and become the solution and pitch a session to Clio Conference 2017. I mean the conference was cool. I’m sure there are sessions that I’ll like. And I’m positive Clio will put on a great show. And New Orleans. I mean New Orleans.

And if you are reading this far, I’d like to thank the Clio staff. You couldn’t have been better hosts. I hope this post doesn’t come off as ripping anything about the Clio team or the conference. That’s not the intent. I guess I liked it enough to care about writing it and I want to see it improve and grow.

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Do I Have A Loss Of Consortium Claim?

I’ve been there. I’ve been t boned in a car wreck that wasn’t my fault. I suffered neck and back pain. Along with a bruise on my chest from the seatbelt. I was lucky. I’m grateful. It could have been worse.

My losses were more than just my physical injuries. I lost the enjoyment of my final weeks of summer. Plans to go places were shelved in favor of rest.

One of the losses Connecticut recognizes is loss of consortium.

Loss of consortium is a suit by a spouse for the loss of the affection, dependence and companionship that he has suffered through the loss of his spouse. Damages for loss of consortium include both past and future loss. “Consortium” includes affection, society, companionship and physical intimacies of the spousal relationship.

If you have been hurt, make sure your lawyer is investigating the full extent of your loss. Including, perhaps, a claim by your spouse for lost of consortium.

Do I have a loss of consortium claim?

Call me if you are injured. I may be able to help. 860 471 8333


A Battle of Values 

Every one of my injury cases is a battle between values.

The battlefield is clear.

Us:  People         Insurance Co.: Profits

Us:  Principles. Insurance Co.: Win at all costs

Us:  Safety.        Insurance Co.: Pass on Safety

Us: Accountability Insurance Co.: Avoid Accountability 

If you are hiring an injury lawyer ask about his or her values. Large corporations don’t value people. Large corporations use people. Make sure your injury firm doesn’t operate like a large corporation. You deserve better. 

Injured By A Cat. Can I Sue?

You’ve been injured by a cat. Can you sue?

In high school, a classmate got cat scratch fever. One day he was healthy. The next day he was in a coma. He was in a coma for weeks. He nearly died. Fortunately, he survived. His doctors feared permanent brain damage. As the result of being scratched by a cat. 

There are lots of dog bite cases. Many fewer cases about cats. Probably because many cat attacks result in minimal injuries. Cases not worth bringing.

The Connecticut Supreme Court in Allen v. Cox held that when a cat has a propensity to attack other cats, knowledge of that propensity may render the owner liable for injuries to people that are reasonably foreseeable as a result of such behavior.

It is the most important case in cat injury law in Connecticut.

Knowing the history of the cat is the only way to know if you have a claim.

If you are attacked by a cat and suffer serious injury, please contact me for a free case review:

 

Starting A Solo Law Firm Without An Office

“Alright let’s meet in the McDonald’s parking lot in Windsor to sign documents”.

“Sure I can drive to your home in Putnam for a meeting”.

“How about Plaza Azteca on the Berlin Turnpike”.

When I started my journey in self employment as a lawyer I didn’t have an office. I didn’t have an office for 3.5 months. Then water from a condo above flooded our office. I was again out of an office for a month.

Life on the road.

Working from a coffee shop.
Working from a coffee shop.

I’m often asked “I’d like to keep overhead low, can I start my practice without an office”. To this question my answer is “yes”. And in today’s world there are some practices that can be run remotely from anywhere in the world. My practice of representing people in court is not one of those practices.

On the plus side, not having an office saves you a major expense while you are starting up.

The flipside of that is that is was very inefficient for me.  First, I had to drive. A lot. A whole lot. I drove to meet with clients in their homes. I drove all over the place. When you are driving you are not writing briefs. You are not balancing your books. You are not creating forms. You are not marketing. You are driving. There’s a cost to all of this driving.

Put a dollar value on your time. The time it takes you to do everything. Including driving from place to place.

It is far more efficient to book 3 client meetings in an afternoon in your office than it is to drive from place to place.

Second, when I started I did some real estate closings. In order to do real estate closings, the title company required that I have a physical office. Not temporary space. Not having an office cost me closings. This may or may not matter to you.

I also have young children. Working from home when they are home is near impossible. So I’d spend time at Starbucks. Again cost.

There may also be an issue attracting clients. Some folks think that successful lawyers have offices. Others think that smart lawyers are mobile, lean, and tech savvy and an office is a waste of resources. Know your client market.

Then there’s certified mail and FedEx. These packages and letters get delivered during the day when you’re busy driving. So you have to try and chase these important packages and letters. You’ll be making extra trips to the post office.

Another thing to consider is your rent is a pre-tax business expense. It is unlike your residential rent. Say your tax rate is 33%. To pay $900 a month in residential rent or a mortgage you have to earn $1200. If you pay $900 a month in commercial rent you have to earn $900. And it is deductible.  ***I am not a tax lawyer and this is in no way tax advice. You need a good accountant.

All things being equal, assuming you need an office, you should get one as soon as you can. The benefits are many. Ideally you’d move into an office share with other lawyers or in the very least a building with other firms. Your neighbors can be great sources of business and advice. Things you may miss out on if you don’t have an office

What Will I Be Asked At Jury Duty?

“Ryan, I have jury duty coming up, what will the lawyers ask me?” says a friend at a summer picnic.

We just finished 3 days of jury selection on a food safety case in Hartford. The topic of jury selection is at the front of my mind. So here you go.

In Connecticut we have individual jury selection. This means that a juror on a civil case will likely find herself in a room – possibly a court room – with the attorneys on the case and a jury clerk. It may even be in a conference room. 

Attorneys from each side have the right to ask prospective jurors questions.

There’s no quiz. No right or wrong answers. The purpose is to assemble a panel that will give each side a fair chance at trial.

Lawyers often ask questions about professional training. For example, will a nurse or doctor on the panel be able to set aside her medical training for the judgment of another doctor and rely solely on the evidence presented in the case? Will the person who works for an insurance company be fair to a plaintiff?

We also often ask about how sure someone has to be when they make a decision. The standard in a civil case is a preponderance of the evidence. It is ever so slightly more right than wrong. It’s not even 51% it’s more like 50.00000000001%. Some folks need near certainty to make a decision and that may make it hard for them to serve.

Other common questions are about whether or not a prospective juror knows a party, lawyer, or witness.

The last bucket of questions deals with feelings about the parties. Can a juror be fair to a corporate defendant or does the juror see the corporations as evil? Can the jury be fair to the bicyclist who has the same rights to the road as a car or does he see the bicyclist as having less of a right to the road than a car?

These are the common sorts of questions that are asked. There are others too.

And if you’re not picked, it may have nothing to do with your answers. There are many reasons someone may not be picked that have nothing to do with bias. For example, a scheduling conflict or a hardship.

We believe juries are the conscience of our community and are deeply grateful for those who serve. It is truly the most important role in our democracy. The notion that problems that can’t be resolved between parties are resolved by the community has served our country well.

If you’ve served, what have you been asked? Leave your answers in the comments below.

How To Calculate Pain and Suffering

We’re often asked: “How do I calculate pain and suffering?”

Injured persons in Connecticut are able to recover for pain and suffering. These damages are in addition to “economic damages” things like medical bills and lost wages. 

The answer is perhaps unsatisfactory to folks who like certainty. There is no formula to enable a jury to arrive at an award for pain and suffering damages. Our Supreme Court in Jerz v. Humphrey,  160 Conn. 219 (1971) held that the determination of damages rests within the discretion of the trier of fact. A trier of fact is a jury in a jury trial or a judge in a bench trial.

Appellate courts routinely uphold generous awards of pain and suffering damages. Jury verdicts on pain and suffering are only overturned for things like corruption, prejudice or partiality.

It makes sense. The role of the jury is very important. Every case is different. It is they jury who must balance the scales of justice and vote on a verdict that reflects the harms and losses of someone who has suffered a wrongful injury.

We carefully evaluate every case we take through confidential methods to arrive at an amount of money for pain and suffering that is just and reasonable.

The jury is the conscience of the community.

The founding fathers got this right.

We ultimately calculate damages for pain and suffering by asking the community.

Contact us for a free evaluation of your injury case:

 

Enter Fall

Summer in New England always ends with a thunderstorm. Always.

This past weekend was hot. Walking between Hartford courts on Friday – I could have sworn it was the hottest day of the year. On Sunday morning the skies turned grey, the wind picked up, the rain was pouring, and there was thunder. As quickly as it came it was over. When it left the humidity was gone. 

Cooler days and cooler nights are upon us. My winter supply of pellets is being delivered this week. Professional football minus Tom Brady is being played.

Fall.

In practice, fall begins anew. Judges get new assignments. The docket gets longer. Cases get tried. Fall in the practice of law feels like spring. Things happen fast and furiously. The daylight is shorter and the work days longer.

Continuing legal education classes and conferences return from their summer hiatus.

Fall is intense.

I’ll enjoy the mums, blue skies, and the first time I put on a sweater.

I welcome the professional opportunities of the fall to try some cases, improve my skills by attending incredible legal education, and support my community with the Race To Fill The Pantry.

Seize the fall, I say. Seize it.

Winter is too soon.

Using x.ai to Better Serve Clients

Juggling my schedule is difficult. In this short week, I have a panel meeting, 3 pretrials, a status conference, an evidentiary hearing, multiple client meetings, and we start jury selection. There’s a telephone conference with my accountant. And another one with a vendor. Those are just my professional obligations.

On the personal side there is getting children to school and daycare. There’s soccer practice on Thursday. And I have a doctor’s appointment. 

Another work week.

Time is valuable. To me. And to my clients.

A month ago I started using x.ai. x.ai is a scheduling bot. It’s artificial intelligence that interacts with my schedule and someone who needs to meet with me. It is really cool.  My assistant’s name is “Amy” – “Amy Ingram” to be exact or “A.I.” for short.

I get an email from a client saying “let’s talk”. I email Amy and the client and say “Amy please schedule a call with the client as soon as possible”. And then “Amy” contacts the client and in a very human tone schedules the call in my calendar. This works for any meeting, lunch, or call.

This allows me to schedule meetings very quickly. And streamlines client communication.

Here’s a link to a x.ai explaining how “Amy” works. 

I use x.ai professional edition. In my month of using it, the only downside is that scheduling group meetings of more than 2 people can result in a lot of emails from Amy to guests as she goes back and forth between them. But one to one it is a great service.