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Motorcycle accidents Archives

Distracted Driving Deaths Jump


In today's Star Tribune the headline on page 1 read as above. The article went on to note that there was a 21% increase in 2015 in traffic deaths in Minnesota attributed to distracted driving. Perhaps more worrisome is the fact that traffic deaths went up in 2015 over 2014. The good news was that speeding related fatalities were reduced by 17%. Donna Berger, director of the Office of Traffic Safety for the state of Minnesota was interviewed and commented that distractions can come in many forms including eating, grooming, picking up a dropped item or trying to monitor kids in the back seat. It isn't all about texting and driving.

MOTORCYLE DEATHS UP 50%!!??

In today's Minneapolis Star Tribune there was an article reporting that since this past Saturday four more motorcyclists have died in crashes on Minnesota roads, which increases the fatality total so far this year to 24, which is a 50% increase over this same time a year ago. That's 24 people dead in probably the last 2 1/2 months!

The Medical Records Rip-Off

Medical records are absolutely essential to someone like me if I am representing an injured person. The medical records often tell the tale of the extent of the injuries, the amount of the pain, etc. It is therefore almost impossible to represent someone adequately without obtaining copies of all of the medical records from all of the treatment received following the injury, and he usually copies of medical records going back at least five years before the injury in order to be able to compare the person's condition before and after the incident.When I started practicing law in the mid-1970s it was a fairly simple process to get copies of a client's medical records. A short letter to the medical provider along with a medical authorization form, and the records in question would be produced within a week or two, usually for a charge of between $.10 a page and $.25 a page, which at that time for some relationship to the actual cost of photocopying. However, commencing in the early 1980s companies called "records retrieval services" sprang up. They went to medical providers and entered into agreements with them saying that they were the exclusive source for copies of any medical records from that medical provider. Armed with these exclusive contracts they instantly began charging one dollar or more per page, plus a retrieval fee of $15-$18, plus sales tax, plus postage. It is important to note that no value was added. These are the exact same records that were being copied for $.10 a page before they claim along.Since that time, while the cost of photocopying has gone down dramatically, the price of getting copies of medical records has continued to escalate. Charges of $1.25 a page or not unusual. Because the client ins up paying for these costs out of their share of the settlement, this sort of nonsense easily costs clients hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in every case.Fortunately, the United States Department Of Health and Human Services has passed rules which took effect recently as part of the HIPAA and HITECH acts. These new rules and regulations prohibit medical providers or these records retrieval services from charging retrieval fee's or making a profit by selling patient's medical records back to the patient. They are now restricted to charging for the actual cost incurred in either making the photocopies or transferring the medical records on to a CD, DVD, or flash drive. And they can charge postage. All it takes to accomplish this is a letter from the patient, signed by the patient, directing that the records be copied in an electronic format and delivered to the patient's lawyer.These new rules and regulations will save injured people in Minnesota millions of dollars in the coming years.

CIVIL TRIAL SPECIALIST; IS IT A BIG DEAL?

Over the past couple of weeks the news media in the Twin Cities has been reporting on a trial taking place in federal court in Minneapolis involving Toyota and the issue of whether they are responsible for cases of uncontrollable acceleration on some of their vehicles. If you read the reports on the trial it sounds like any reasonably competent attorney could be representing the plaintiffs. Nothing could be further from the truth.Starting in the late 1970s it became apparent to the plaintiff's bar that finding a way to distinguish lawyers who make their living in the courtroom from lawyers who do not, was something that would benefit consumers. Accordingly, the National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) was formed by some distinguished trial lawyers. They established criteria and standards which lawyers had to meet in order to be certified as Civil Trial Specialists. Not only did this require demonstrating a significant amount of actual trial experience, but it called for letters of recommendation from judges and opposing attorneys, as well as passage of a grueling day long examination.In 1987 I became the first lawyer in Anoka County to receive this certification, and I have been recertified multiple times over the ensuing years.One of the things that I do to give back to the profession is participate in something called case evaluation clinics at the Minnesota Association for Justice. In those clinics other lawyers bring in cases and a panel of three lawyers reviews them and offers advice on how best to proceed. Last Tuesday I participated in another one of these clinics and I was struck by the amount of assistance some lawyers need to handle complex cases. In the two cases that we reviewed that day, there were literally dozens of suggestions that were made by the panel which, in my opinion, should not have been necessary. The lawyers getting the advice were not Certified Civil Trial Specialists, yet they were retained by clients with significant injuries insignificant cases.Recently I've been asked to take over two cases which other law firms had handled for a while. After looking at the files it quickly became apparent to me that these other law firms were not qualified to do this kind of work in the first place.Consumers looking for a lawyer to represent them in a personal injury matter should look for lawyers who are Certified Trial Specialists. You wouldn't go to a family care physician for brain surgery, and likewise you shouldn't go to a family law lawyer for a personal injury matter, unless it is for a referral to a competent Certified Civil Trial Specialist.

Why Personal Injury Lawsuits Help Us All

In this morning's Star Tribune there was an article about a man named Greg Torell, who lives in Cambridge, Minnesota. Seven years ago, on June 12, 2007, he was at the hospital when his granddaughter Elizabeth was born. He held her for a while and then got on his motorcycle to go back home. 20 minutes later he was broadsided on Highway 47 by a drunk driver. He lost his left arm and his left leg as a result of the accident and was blinded for life.

A Trial Lawyer's View of Obamacare

A lot of folks are opposed to Obamacare for a variety of reasons. As a trial lawyer, however, I had a recent case come across my desk which shows why this law is necessary and good for the country.Because my wife is a registered nurse, I may have a little more insight into this issue than most people.One of the big problems with the American healthcare system is that it is open to everyone, whether they are insured or not, or whether they can pay for their health care or not. An example would be a recent case of mine. My client, a young man in his early 20s, has a job working as a motorcycle technician. He was riding his motorcycle to work one morning when he was involved in a crash. He was injured and taken to North Memorial where he quickly ran up a bill between $20,000 and $25,000. The crash was his fault. He had no medical payments coverage on his motorcycle, and did not have private health insurance of any sort. So what happens to that $20,000-$25,000 in expenses? Does it just go away? No. It gets passed on to everyone else who does have insurance. That's one reason why hospital stays cost so much money and why health insurance premiums have continued to skyrocket over the past 15 years.One of the main purposes of the Affordable Care Act is to get people like that client into the insurance pool. Insurance is all about spreading risk. The more people in the risk pool, the more the cost of care can be spread out. If young, healthy people consistently stay out of the insurance pool by not buying health insurance, the only people left in the pool will be the elderly, the sick, the disabled, etc. If young, healthy people like my client can be forced to be in the pool, their premiums will help cover the care for others and, contribute towards his own care which it turned out he needed.My wife sees this sort of thing all the time.Commencing in 2014, I think, people like my client will pay a tax on their earnings if they can't prove that they have insurance. This will be a financial incentive to my client to buy insurance. After all, if you're paying for it anyways you might as well have the coverage. This financial incentive will push more young, healthy people into the risk pool, get them to start paying for that insurance coverage, and thereby spread the risk out further and keep premiums lower than they otherwise would be.

2 More Motorcyclists Die on Minnesota Roads

In today's Star Tribune there was a short article reporting that two more motorcyclists were killed on Minnesota roads this past weekend. This is a disturbing trend. The past two deaths bring 231 the total number of motorcyclists killed so far this year in Minnesota. When you consider that real motorcycling season didn't start until sometime in May, you begin to appreciate how dangerous it can be. Of the two most recent deaths, one motorcyclist was wearing a helmet and the other was not. According to the investigating officer the motorcyclist not wearing a helmet probably would've had nothing more than a bit of road rash if he had been wearing a helmet, and would have survived.Both of these motorcyclists died in one-vehicle crashes. In that case the survivors really have no recourse through the courts unless the motorcycle owner took the trouble to purchase medical coverage on the motorcycle, in which case perhaps the hospital bills might be paid and even some funeral expenses would be covered under some policies.