Three Cases that Every Personal Injury Attorney Should Know

by Rick Bishop
Principal, Settlement Professionals

Nobody understands risk and liability better than a Personal Injury Attorney. Unfortunately, the nature of the profession makes its practitioners the ideal target. As a result, the settlement planning process can be a mine field of liability.

To illustrate this reality, we’ve collected three of the most noteworthy national precedents that outline the extent of attorney vulnerability and the importance of expert settlement planning.

Lyons v. Medical Malpractice Insurance Association, 730 NYS 2nd 345, (A.D. 2 Dept.2001)

The Judge indicated that MMI (defendant) contended that the plaintiffs could have and should have independently determined the value for themselves! This problem most likely would never have occurred had plaintiff’s counsel retained their own expert with a duty and loyalty to the plaintiff. That is why SPL surveys the entire market and finds the best programs with a quality companies.

Macomber v. Travelers Property and Casualty Corp., 261 Conn 620 (2002)

The plaintiffs agreed to settle their case for cash and periodic payments (a structured settlement annuity). Plaintiffs alleged that Travelers Casualty misrepresented the fundamental nature and terms of the settlements because they did not disclose the true cost or value of the annuity that was to fund the structured settlement. Plaintiffs alleged that Travelers engaged in practices that enabled them to pay less for the annuities than what they represented to the plaintiffs. The Connecticut Supreme Court labeled these practices “rebating and short-changing schemes.”

Josephine Grillo, as guardian and next friend for Christina Grillo, a minor v. Tom L. Pettielle, T.E. Swate and Hardy, Milutin & Johns, in the 96th District Court of Tarrant County; Texas, Cause NO> 96-145090-92

A plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit settled a decade ago sued her own attorneys and guardian ad litem for legal malpractice because she was not presented with the option of a structured settlement. A simple tool for plaintiff’s counsel is to provide an Acknowledgement Letter that a structure offer was presented and signed by plaintiff that the offer is Accepted or Rejected.