Monthly Archives: October 2011

Lexis-Nexis Nominates the BILB for Top 25 Tort Blogs Competition

This blog has been nominated for inclusion in the Lexis-Nexis Litigation Community’s Top 25 Tort Blogs for 2011!

It’s certainly gratifying to see that the blog’s reputation is continuing to grow nationwide. So if you like the blog, sign up and vote!

You can do that here.
This phase of the competition ends on November 17, so don’t procrastinate.

Should Lawyers be Required to Carry Malpractice Insurance?

I just ran across an article in the ABA Journal that points out that only one state, Oregon, requires attorneys to be covered by malpractice insurance. There, lawyers must purchase at least $300,000 of coverage through a state fund.

My state, Maryland, does not require it and never has. I know there are many, many lawyers “running bare”. I think this is colossally stupid. If the economics of your practice do not allow for the purchase of malpractice insurance, you might be in the wrong game. It is easy to think that because you are a dedicated, competent lawyer, you will avoid committing malpractice. But what if someone brings a claim that turns out to be unfounded? If you have insurance, it is defended at low or no cost by an attorney who is an expert in legal malpractice defense. You will have access to well-qualified experts to testify in your defense. You will have counsel with experience in assisting you with any bar complaint that may be made. With no coverage, you don’t get any of that, and if you do, you pay as you go.

Whether or not the state requires lawyers to purchase malpractice insurance, its a good idea to have it. I just can’t belive there are lawyers who go without. Why do I suspect that these are probably also the lawyers most likely to need it?

When Justice Thomas Speaks, He Has Something to Say

I don’t write much in this space about Supreme Court, since this blog is usually dedicated to topics of interest in personal injury litigation. Even though I have an appellate practice, I don’t expect to find myself preparing an argument in the SCOTUS anytime soon. I imagine I will end my legal career in the 99.995% of all attorneys who never make it to the Supreme Court.

Even so, I usually pay at least cursory attention to the goings-on down on First Street, because I find it interesting as an appellate lawyer and because I try to be a well-informed citizen. So I am aware of Clarence Thomas’ well-established reputation as the Court’s silent man, and that people draw varying inferences from his silence. Some think that it is a sign of closed-mindedness, an unwillingness to be persuaded, or an ideological entrenchedness. Others see it as a sign of indifference. Still others see it as a mask for intellectual weakness (an inference I find ridiculous). Even though I think it is safe to say that Justice Thomas and I are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, I find him to be one of the most interesting justices.

Here is a great article from The Huffington Post about one of the few times Justice Thomas has engaged with counsel at argument. In 2002, he jumped in on the side of the State of Virginia in a case testing the constitutionality of a state law making cross-burning a criminal offense. As the Court’s only African-American and a man who grew up in segregated Savannah, Georgia, he made the point that cross-burning isn’t expression protected by the 1st Amendment, but instead a hateful act of terror and intimidation.

The Court, of course, struck down the statute. The article quotes Justice Thomas’ dissent, stating: “Just as one cannot burn down someone’s house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point.”

Although I am sure it wasn’t his intent, this illustrates neatly for me why a diversity of experience and viewpoint is a very good thing for the Court. Clearly Justice Thomas saw this issue in a different, more personal way than another person would. Just one more reminder that it’s nearly always a bad idea to pigeonhole a justice, or anyone else.

Who Will They Call If You Are Hurt In An Accident?

Emergency Personnel Need to Know Who to Call

When it comes to being hurt in an accident, we all think that it will never happen to us. It’s always the “other guy.” Nobody wants to prepare for when the unthinkable happens.

But if you are seriously injured or incapacitated in an accident, you want to make sure that the authorities are able to quickly contact your loved ones. Nobody wants to sit alone in a hospital, or have a stranger making medical decisions because the authorities didn’t know who to notify. Now the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration allows you to add three emergency contacts to your personal information using your driver’s license number.

Here is the MVA’s website. You will want to find “Do It Now Online” on the right-hand side, and click “Emergency Contacts.” Then continue to select “Emergency Contacts” in the next menu, and proceed from there. Hopefully you will never need it, but it only takes a few minutes to get a little more piece of mind.