How Contingeny Fees Deter Frivolous Lawsuites

Many politicians and members of the news media proclaim that there is an “epidemic” of lawsuits in this country. The inference is that attorneys often encourage frivolous lawsuits to make more money, and that those lawsuits are the cause of rising medical and insurance costs, not to mention the logjam of cases flooding our courts. This is simply not true.

The reality is that nearly all personal injury attorneys handle cases based on what’s called a contingency fee agreement, which means that the attorney only gets paid if he or she recovers damages (money) for the client. Lawyers working on a contingency basis are careful to assess the merits of each case to determine if the lawsuit is legitimate. Let’s face it, attorneys are unlikely to accept a case that has little or no merit as they would bear the costs associated with the litigation with almost no hope of being paid.

Contingency fee arrangements also produce another benefit – they improve access to our legal system by people with limited funds to participate in litigation they could otherwise ill afford. This particularly applies to medical malpractice claims in which expert witnesses are often called to testify. Under the contingency arrangement, the attorney would bear the substantial cost for the witnesses and be paid only if the verdict is favorable to their client.

Please call us if you have any questions about our fees or how your case will be funded.

A Deadly Mix of Distractions on the Road- Texting While Driving

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, distracted driving can be broken down into three main types of distraction — visual (in which you take your eyes off the road), manual (in which you take your hands off the wheel), and cognitive (in which you take your mind off what you are doing).

 While any type of distraction while you are driving can be dangerous, what makes driving while texting especially problematic is that it involves all three main types of distractions.

 Statistics show that around 20 percent of all crashes involve some type of distraction, and in 2008, nearly 6,000 people were killed in collisions involving a distracted driver.

And even though many states have banned or are considering bans on texting while driving, it is up to drivers themselves to use common sense. When you’re behind the wheel, put the phone down entirely, or if you absolutely have to send a text, pull over to a safe area on the side of the road or into a parking lot.

 Currently in West Virginia, drivers younger than 18 that hold either a learner’s permit or an intermediate license are banned from cell phone use of any kind while operating a motor vehicle.  There is a bill being considered for the next legislative session that will ban texting while driving in the State of West Virginia for anyone driving a motor vehicle.

If you or a family member has been victim in an accident caused by a distracted driver, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney

Congratulations to our Winners!

The Miley Legal Group, in conjunction with students, different groups and citizens of North Central West Virginia, had an immensely successful campaign to end Distracted Driving.  We received over 450 pledge cards from individuals making a pledge to not text and drive.  They even went further and made a commitment to not use their cell phone at all while they are driving. 

Congratulations to Ashley Pratt and Quinten Cecil for being our $50 pledge card drawing winners.  They were randomly selected from all of the students that pledged to not text while driving.    

We want to thank everyone that helped and participated in this program.  We never dreamed we would have this type of participation and feel so fortunate to be a part of spreading awareness for such an important issue.

Lawsuit Crisis? Not Even Close.

 Although the continuous proclamations from pundits on the Web, talk radio, and the evening news, the number of lawsuits is skyrocketing, but in reality this is simply not the truth. In fact, the real numbers paint a far different picture than what we have been led to believe.

                        According to information cited by the American Association for Justice, the number of personal injury cases filed in state courts during the years 1998-2007 dropped by 24 percent.  And the downward trends don’t stop at the state level.  At the federal level, between 1985 and 2003, civil litigation filings in U.S. District Courts declined by 79 percent, dropping from 3,604 in 1985 to fewer than 800 in 2003.

                        Further dispelling the notion of a lawsuit crisis, the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates the median awards from tort trials in state courts in the nation’s 75 largest counties fell 18.4 percent between 1996 and 2005.  In addition, as of 2005, the median jury trial award was just $24,000.

                        If you think West Virginia is different, think again.  The most recent available statistics reported by the National Center for State Courts ranks West Virginia 37th among the State in terms of new civil litigation cases filed per capita.

                        Bottom line – our civil justice system is working, helping to hold Wall Street, drug companies, corporations and insurance companies accountable for their actions.

Fed up with West Virginias Government getting an “F” in ethics ?

Del. Tim Miley led charge in WV House of Delegates to strengthen ethics laws

In 2009, the Center for Public Integrity evaluated West Virginia’s ethics laws and gave the state an “F” based upon the law’s failure to require public officials to disclose spousal assets.  Currently, any person serving in a public office is required by the West Virginia Ethics Commission to complete a disclosure form to provide information related to that person’s assets and sources of income.

Given the “F” grade, Delegate Tim Miley introduced, and was the lead sponsor of, a bill which would have required the spouses of all public officials to disclose the same financial information that is required to be disclosed by the public official.  The purpose for such disclosure requirement is to prevent the public official from taking action on a matter that will financially benefit that official or his family.

The West Virginia House of Delegates passed the ethics bill in the first week of the legislative session, receiving unanimous bi-partisan support.  However, because the West Virginia State Senate refused to take up the bill, it did not become law this year.  Despite this first unsuccessful attempt to strengthen our state’s ethics laws, Tim Miley continues to fight to bring integrity to public service. He is committed to strengthening our ethics laws in the State of West Virginia.

Other bills that Tim Miley supported this session that became law include:  increasing the size of the State Police’s child protection unit to create the Child Predator Unit; a bill increasing the age at which students can drop out of school; increasing criminal penalties for persons who obstruct, flee from or make false statements to law-enforcement officers;  increasing the criminal penalty for failing to stop and render aid after a motor vehicle accident;  the creation of  Business Courts within our existing judicial system which would handle disputes between businesses; and an elections spending disclosure bill that requires groups to disclose their political spending so the public has more information about who is running ads.

If you would like to see the complete list of bills that passed in 2010, please go online at http://www.legis.state.wv.us/.

Tort Reform Only Helping Insurance Companies

Tort reform has led to higher premiums for patients and physicians have continued to sky-rocket, insurance companies have had record profits. This is according to a new report from the American Association of Justice (AAJ).

AAJ researchers analyzed data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), as well as insurance company annual statements, and determined that malpractice insurer profits are 24 percent higher in states with caps on medical malpractice awards.  The data also shows that states with caps took in 3.5 times more in premiums that they paid out in 2008 as compared to just over two times in states without caps.  West Virginia is a “capped” state, limiting noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases to $250,000 in most instances and $500,000 in instances of death or seriously debilitating injuries.

Reports show that the medical malpractice industry has increased 47 percent in the last 10 years. This came out as the insurance companies pushed for torn reform because of “reported” losses.

With malpractice caps in over 30 states, insurance companies are realizing exceptionally high profits.  For instance, the average profit of the 10 largest medical malpractice insurers was higher than 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 35 times higher than the Fortune 500 average.

The report’s authors also believe the insurance industry leaders are already preparing to claim another “tort crisis” and lobby for even greater restrictions on patients’ rights by 2012.
To view a copy of the report, please visit http://www.justice.org.