Monthly Archives: May 2012

I’ve Been Named One of Maryland’s Top 40 Trial Lawyers Under 40

Everybody likes it when they are offered an award or other professional honor. I know I do. It’s natural to want people to know about it when it happens. After all, what’s the value in getting professional accolades if likely consumers of your services don’t know about them?

Of course blogging about it might be labeled self-congratulatory, or passed off as mere self-promotion for marketing purposes. I have decided I don’t care. Haters gonna hate.

Therefore, I am pleased to announce that I have been named one of The National Trial Lawyers’ Top 40 Under 40 for 2012. Membership is offered to only the top 40 plaintiff’s civil or criminal defense trial attorneys in Maryland under 40 years of age (I just squeaked by- I’m 38).

I understand why people often take a cynical view of this sort of thing. A lot of the time, you get a packet in the mail telling you that you have won some sort of “award”, and it turns out to be a pure solicitation: you are being asked to write a large check (I have gotten some asking for as much as $1200) in exchange for receiving an impressive-looking certificate and being able to say you got an award.

So when I received the acceptance materials for this, I assumed it was B.S. and let it sit unread in my inbox for about 60 days. Once I finally read it, I went to the web site listing the other lawyers who were included. I found out that most of the Maryland lawyers listed were people I knew, who I think are good lawyers. After verifying it was legitimate, I was happy to accept.

Does this mean that the lawyers named are necessarily better than those who were not? Of course not. But for someone in the market for legal services, a potential lawyer’s inclusion on these sorts of lists is at least one factor to consider in determining if a lawyer has the skills and experience that he claims he does.
I am proud to have been included on this list. I may even find a spot for the certificate on my “I love me” wall.

Trucking Accidents: You’re Already Behind

Experienced truck accident lawyers know that when beginning to investigate a new matter, it is extremely important to hit the ground running. Why? Because the moment the client signs the retainer, you are already behind. Most likely, you are significantly behind.

Why? Because the trucking company and its’ defense team had a head start. The lawyers who defend trucking companies with regularity have a 24 hour crash line (ok, an associate with a cell phone) for the company to call immediately after the crash. As soon as dispatch knows there has been an accident, they call the number. Once the lawyer gets the call, they hustle to get somebody out to the scene. They call a reconstructionist who will be able to get there while the evidence is fresh and undisturbed. They get the vehicles and the scene photographed, and they get an investigator moving to obtain statements from the witnesses. This has all most likely happened before the injured person even thinks to call a lawyer.

On the other side, let’s assume the accident victim is badly injured. He’s in the hospital for two weeks. After he stabilizes, he begins the search for a personal injury lawyer. After talking with a few lawyers, he takes another week to decide which one he likes best and to sign a retainer. At that point, the lawyer has only had a client to represent for 5 minutes, and he’s already 3 weeks behind the defense in his investigation.

The victim’s lawyer needs to start moving right away if he ever hopes to catch up to the other side. And that’s if it’s possible to catch up. Three weeks after the accident, debris may have been cleaned up, skid marks may have washed away, vehicles may have been repaired and put back in service (or destroyed), witnesses have probably already given statements at the prompting of insurance investigators, the truck driver has certainly been briefed by insurance representatives and/or lawyers, and the vehicle data recorders have most likely been erased or reset and the information they contained is gone forever.

Experienced truck accident lawyers (like, well, you know) know this, and have a plan in place to start catching up to the defense investigation as soon as the injury victim signs their retainer agreement. So I have decided to do a series of blog posts detailing what I think are some of the most important steps in beginning to investigate a trucking accident that caused a serious injury. Keep an eye out for the first post in the series, which will be going up in the next weeks or so.

Don’t Forget About Your Witnesess When the Case Settles

I just reached a settlement in a case that was set for trial next week. Obviously that is great news for my client, who now has some closure on a difficult period in his life.
But memorializing the agreement and having the clerk remove the case from the docket doesn’t mean the end of my job when it comes to settlement.

I had subpoenaed three witnesses to appear for trial: an independent “bystander” witness, a traffic engineer from the State Highway Administration, and a police officer. I made sure to contact each of these witnesses as soon as the case resolved to let them know they would not need to appear. They really appreciated that I let them know. The traffic engineer in particular made it a point to let me know how often attorneys subpoena witnesses from his office and then do not let them know when the case settles. Then they travel to court for nothing.

I can’t believe that. It’s just unprofessional, and arguably violates Md. Rule 2-510(h), which states that “[a] party or an attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall take reasonable steps to avoid imposing undue burden or cost on a person subject to the subpoena.” As far as I’m concerned, not telling a witness under subpoena that the case settled and they don’t have to appear causes the witness “undue burden or cost.”

So just a reminder, when your case settles right before trial, make sure to notify the witnesses. That way you can save them the hassle and missed time from work of showing up at court for no reason.