Recently in Punitive Damages Category

March 21, 2013

HOW TO COLLECT PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN AN 18 WHEELER CASE

 

If a set of facts are enough to justify a jury in a criminal case (with proof required "beyond a reasonable doubt") to convict someone for culpable manslaughter, then those same set of facts are enough to justify a jury in a civil case (with a lesser burden of proof) to consider the issue of gross negligence. Gross negligence requires less proof than culpable negligence and reckless driving. Turner. 735 So.2d 226 (Miss. 1999).
Section 97-3-47 of Miss. Code of 1972 states as follows:

"Every other killing of a human being, by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, and without authority of law, not provided for in this title, shall be manslaughter."
Culpable negligence means negligence of a higher degree than gross negligence in a civil case. If a defendant is guilty of culpable negligence in a criminal case, then that defendant will also be guilty of gross negligence in the civil courts. Culpable negligence is "the conscious or reckless disregard of the probabilities of fatal consequences to others as a result of the willful creation of an unreasonable risk." Evans v. State, 562 So.2d 91 (Miss. 1990). Culpable negligence is also defined as "negligence of a degree that is so gross as to be tantamount to a wanton disregard, or utter indifference to, the safety of human life." Clayton v. State. 652 So.2d 720 (Miss. 1995).
Moore v. State. 117 So.2d469 (Miss. 1960) (defendant's conviction for culpable negligence was affirmed for going 55 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone). In Moore, the victim was crossing the street. The court held that the defendant could have seen the deceased and should have seen the deceased in time to apply his brakes; that he skidded 140 feet, hit a telephone pole and lost control of his vehicle; that the physical facts and the greater weight of the evidence contradicted the defendant's testimony. The Supreme Court defined "culpable negligence" as follows: "Negligence of a higher degree than that which in civil cases is held to be gross negligence." In other words, in order to sustain the jury deciding the issue of punitive damages as a result of gross negligence in a civil case, all one needs to do is prove more than simple negligence but less than culpable negligence.
Shows v. State, 168 So. 862 (Miss. 1936) (defendant convicted of culpable negligence for sideswiping another truck who was going over the speed limit and crossed over the center line -reversed because of improper jury instruction). The defendant was driving a big truck and after the impact he concluded that no damage had been done and proceeded on to his destination in Hattiesburg where he was arrested.
Goldman v. State, 406 So.2d 816 (Miss. 1981) (conviction for culpable negligence affirmed for defendant who was going 60 miles per hour, crossed over the double yellow line in a no passing zone, and hit somebody head-on coming from the opposite direction).
Section 63-3-1201 of Miss. Code of 1972 states as follows:

"Any person who drives any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety or persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Reckless driving shall be considered a greater offense than careless driving."

In the case of Turner v. City of Ruleville. 735 So.2d 226 (Miss. 1999), the
Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of a complaint against the city for the actions of its police officer in allowing a drunk driver to continue driving after being stopped after the officer noticed that the defendant was driving in an erratic fashion and failed to have his headlights on. In reversing the case and allowing the jury to decide whether or not the city was liable for punitive damages, the Supreme Court held as follows citing Barnes v. State. 162 So.2d 865, 866 (Miss.
1964):The court held that for the purpose of the reckless driving statute, 'reckless means 'the commission of conscious acts or omissions which a driver knows or should know create an unreasonable risk of injury or damage...'." The Court also stated: "For conduct to be 'reckless' it must be such as to evince disregard of, or indifference to, consequences, or the circumstances involving danger to life or safety to others, although no harm was intended'." The Court defined "reckless disregard of rights of others" as follows: "...as used in automobile law, means the voluntary doing by motorists of an improper or wrongful act, or with knowledge of existing conditions, a voluntary refraining from doing a proper or prudent act when such act or failure to act evinces an entire abandonment of any care, and heedless indifference to results which may follow and the reckless taking of a chance of an accident happening without intent that any occur." Id. at 229.
The Mississippi Supreme Court held as follows, citing Dame v. Estes, 101 So.2d 644,645 (Miss. 1958), which defined gross negligence as: "Gross negligence is that course of conduct which disclosed a reckless indifference to consequences without the exertion of any substantial effort to avoid them."
The defendants argued that intent was required in order to make the city liable. The Court held: "While we agree that reckless disregard would encompass gross negligence, we hold that reckless disregard is a higher standard than gross negligence." Id. at 229-30. In refusing to require that the plaintiff prove that the defendant intended to do harm, the Supreme Court quoted Evans v. Trader. 614 So.2d 955, 958 (Miss. 1993), which held that in order to defeat an immunity defense under the common law, the plaintiff would not have to show that the officer entertained a specific intent. It would suffice to show that the officer acted with wanton and reckless disregard for the plaintiffs safety.
The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that "punitive damages are ordinarily recoverable where the negligence is so gross as to indicate reckless or wanton disregard for the safety of others." City of Jackson v. Perry,764 So 2d 373 (MS 2000) (57 mph in 35 mph zone knocking vehicle 75 feet; punitive damages affirmed), Also see Maye v. Pearl River County. 758 So.2d 391, 395 (MS 1999) (backing sheriffs car out of parking space up an incline; punitive damages affirmed).

Punitive damages may be recovered, not only for willful and intentional wrong, but for such gross and reckless negligence as is equivalent to such wrong, since an act done in the spirit of wantonness and recklessness is often times just as harmful as if prompted by malice. Bush v. Watkins. 80 So.2d 19 (Miss. 1955). The definition of gross negligence is found in Teche Lines. Inc. v. Pope, 166 So. 539 (Miss. 1936), which held that there is no precise definition of gross negligence, but it might be defined as that course of conduct which, under the particular circumstances, disclosed a reckless indifference to consequences without the exertion of any substantial effort to avoid them. Also see Reid v. Halpin, 178 So. 88 (Miss. 1938); Planters Wholesale Grocery v. Kincaid. 50 So.2d 578 (Miss. 195n: Belk v. Rosemond. 57 So.2d461 (Miss. 1952); and Dame v. Estes, 101 So.2d644 (Miss. 1958).
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, the master is liable for the acts of his servants which are done in the course of their employment and in the furtherance of the master's business; punitive damages may be awarded against a master for the negligent acts of his servant. Sandifer Oil Co. v. Dew, 71 So.2d 752 (Miss. 1954). Employer held liable for willful and wanton acts resulting in injury to boy whom driver of truck had invited to ride thereon. Trico Coffee Co. v. Clemens. 151 So. 175 (Miss. 1933).
The most important case on the issue is U.S. Industries. Inc. v. McClure Furniture Co.. 371 So.2d 391 (Miss. 1979). In U.S. Industries, the Mississippi Supreme Court held as follows: "We have to keep in mind that the basic theory is whether or not there was sufficient evidence for the jury to award punitive damages even though the evidence might be conflicting. It is not the court's prerogative to make the award. It is only for the court to decide whether or not the party requesting a punitive damage instruction has presented sufficient evidence for the jury's consideration. Yazoo & Mississippi Valley R.R. Co. v. Hardie. 55 So.42 (Miss. 1911); Snowden v. Osborne. 269 So.2d 858 (Miss. 1972)." Id. at 393.
In affirming the award of punitive damages, the Mississippi Supreme Court held as follows:"The evidence was uncontradicted that Mississippi Highway 550 is a well-traveled road, that the tractor-trailer completely blocked both lanes of traffic and that this occurred prior to sunrise which was at 6:50 on the morning of the accident, and that visibility was at best limited. Prudence would have required Jones to have moved his rig on to the shoulder of the road either to await full daylight or to place the necessary flares, or to have continued in his own lane until he found an appropriate intersection for completing the maneuver. Instead, Jones risked the possibility of collision against the possibility of completing the dangerous turn within the few moments when the road appeared to be clear of traffic. He exercised bad judgment under the circumstances." (emphasis added)Id. at 393-94.
The U.S. Industries court also cited the Fifth Circuit Mississippi case of Anderson v. Eagle Motor Lines, Inc., 423 F.2d 81 (5th Cir. 1970) for allowing the punitive damage instruction to go to the jury. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the award of punitive damages and held that the blocking of the highway was gross negligence entitling the plaintiff to a punitive damage instruction.
Also see Commodore Corp. v. Bailey. 393 So.2d 467 (Miss. 1981), whereby the Mississippi Supreme Court in affirming the punitive damage instruction held as follows:
"If the evidence presented by the party requesting a punitive damage instruction is such that the jury could find that the wrongful acts complained of resulted from such gross disregard of the rights of the complaining party as amounts to wilfulness on the part of the wrongdoer, or that the opposite party was guilty of such negligence as to amount to a reckless disregard of the complaining party's rights, then the court is fully authorized to submit the issue of punitive damages for the jury's deliberation. Fowler Butane Gas Co. v. Varner, 141 So.2d 226 (Miss. 1962)."Id. at 471.

See Paracelsus Healthcare Corp. v. Willard, 754 So.2d 437 (Miss. 1999), whereby the Supreme Court previously remanded two cases for consideration of punitive damages and then affirmed the jury awards of 1.5 million dollars to each plaintiff for punitive damages and held that the evidence supported the finding that the jury could find the actions to be in gross disregard for the rights of the plaintiffs.
Punitive damages are defined as damages given in enhancement of ordinary damages on account of the wanton, reckless, malicious, or oppressive character of the acts complained of. Interstate Oil Pipeline Co. v. Valentine. 110 So.2d 369 (Miss. 1959).
In Sandifer Oil Co. v. Dew. 71 So.2d 752,758 (Miss. 1954), the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision allowing the jury to consider punitive damages for a truck driver who left his truck pumping gasoline into a storage tank and went across the street to a restaurant and drank a cup of coffee. When someone alerted the truck driver that the gas was overflowing, the truck driver turned off the switch and stopped the motor and the pump. A few minutes later there was an explosion. In affirming the punitive damages award, the Supreme Court held that: "It was difficult to conceive of a case of more reckless and wanton disregard of the consequences of his act. His negligence was gross, it was reckless, and it was wanton to such extent as to be tantamount to wilfulness...those who handle such dangerous agencies should be made to know the standard of care which is required of them. It is regrettable that such a tragic occurrence is necessary to again bring such knowledge to those engaged in such business." Id. at 758-759. "It is interesting to note and we concur in opinion that the ($90,000) ninety thousand dollar verdict in 1954 was the highest verdict in the country for the death of a child at that time."
Dame v. Estes. 101 So.2d 644 (Miss. 1958) (question of whether plaintiff was entitled to recover punitive damages should have been submitted to the jury when the defendant failed to stop at a stop sign.) In Dame, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court's decision in refusing to allow the jury to consider punitive damages and held that the facts justified a punitive damages instruction and reversed for a new trial on damages only. The facts of the case were that the witnesses estimated the speed of the defendant to be 50 miles per hour. The defendant said she was going 30-35 miles per hour. The speed limit was 30 miles per hour. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the defendant either ignored or failed to see the stop sign which was staring her in the face and made no effort to stop at the intersection or to even check the speed of the vehicle she was behind. It was in broad open daylight, there was nothing to obstruct her vision and she wholly failed to see the plaintiff s pickup truck until it was directly in front of her. We think under this case that the question of whether plaintiff was entitled to recover punitive damages should have been submitted to the jury. The Court cited Hadad v. Lockeby. 169 So. 691 (Miss. 1936) for the definition of punitive damages as follows: "Punitive damages may be recovered not only for a willful and intentional wrong, but for such gross and reckless neglect as is equivalent to such a wrong, since an act done in the spirit of wantonness and recklessness is oftentimes just as harmful as if prompted by malice." The Court also cited Teche Lines. Inc. v. Pope. 166 So. 539 (Miss. 1936), for the definition of gross negligence: "Gross negligence is that course of conduct which, under the particular circumstances, discloses a reckless indifference to consequences without the exertion of any substantial effort to avoid them." The Court then cited Wilson v. State. 161 So. 744 (Miss. 1930), wherein the Supreme Court affirmed a manslaughter conviction, for culpable negligence, upon facts in which the negligence is no more culpable than in the case now before us. Id at 645.
Also see, Teche Lines. Inc. v. Pope. 166 So. 539 (Miss. 1936) (bus driver who failed to attempt to stop his bus until 10 feet from railroad crossing, held grossly negligent).The facts in this case are that the bus driver was driving his bus which was 30 feet long, weighed 10 tons, and had a 39 passenger seating capacity; the bus driver was traveling 25 miles per hour and approached the railroad crossing. The bus driver failed to stop until he was about 10 feet from the crossing, resulting in a disastrous collision and serious and permanent injuries to plaintiff who was a passenger on the bus.
Hadad v. Lockeby, 169 So. 691 (Miss. 1936) (award of punitive damages is affirmed for defendant driving 35-40 miles per hour in a 20 miles per hour speed zone without sounding his horn or giving any warning of his approach; he saw some pedestrians and struck them anyway). The defendant had three eyewitnesses who testified that the defendant sounded his horn and slowed his speed. The Mississippi Supreme Court held that the defendant was driving his car at an excessive rate of speed, that he saw the plaintiff crossing the road and failed to slow his speed or sound his horn or give any warning until the accident. These facts if true constitute gross negligence on the part of the defendant. It is interesting to note the words of wisdom offered by the Hadad Supreme Court: "These machines upon the highways are extremely dangerous to others using the highways. The lives and limbs of persons should be safeguarded, and something should be done to reduce accidents to a minimum." Id. at 694.
Southland Broadcasting Co. v. Tracy, 50 So.2d 572 (Miss. 1951) (jury authorized in finding that driver's negligence was so wanton and reckless as to justify the infliction of punitive damages for speeding, failing to negotiate a turn, leaving the highway, and traveling approximately 720 feet after leaving the highway.)
Collins v. Black. 380 So.2d 241 (Miss. 1980) (Supreme Court reinstated jury verdict for punitive damages against defendant who was driving at an unreasonable rate of speed, on the wrong side of the road, and failed to stop after the collision.) The conduct of a driver of a vehicle in failing to stop after the accident when taken in connection with all the circumstances may authorize a finding of a lack of care, conscious indifference to the consequences, and aggravating circumstances authorizing the recovery of punitive damages.
So if you have a question about your 18 wheeler or other accident case which may justify punitive damages, give me a call or email me. 601-969-1977 paulsnowiii@msn.com paul snow.jpg


March 5, 2013

JURY INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE PLAINTIFF'S LAWYER

 

I have just updated my home page to include jury instructions for all aspects of a plaintiff's trial practice. If you have any interest in using any of these instructions, fell free to download and/or copy. They are located under "referring attorney resources". If it doesn't open,you may need to try a different browser.

Call me if you have any questions about your particular case.paul snow.jpg

May 23, 2012

$1,500,000 Judgment Awarded In Drunk Driving Case In Columbia, Marion County, MS

 

A verdict of $1,500,000 was awarded against a drunk driver, Richard N. Kennedy, who drove on the wrong side of the road and hit the Plaintiff's vehicle head on causing the death of a 2 year old boy, Caynen Woodward, and injuring his sister,Haley Woodward, and father, Brandon Woodward.

The accident happened on New Year's Eve night about midnight on 2009, on Highway 98 near Foxworth, MS. The defendant plead guilty to negligent manslaughter in causing the death of Caynen while driving drunk.

My law firm with mike ratcliff and bill jones are handling this case. The drunk driver's insurance company failed to pay their policy limits after being requested to pay the same within a reasonable time by our law firm. When the case didn't settle, suit was filed and now the insurance company has a large excess exposure. If adjusters would just do what is right and act fairly, then their insurance company wouldn't be in the position that they are in at the present time.

A lawsuit will be filed against the insurance company to collect the excess judgment,plus attorney fees and court costs and interest.

I will keep you informed as to future developments. Stay tuned!

Paul Snow

April 23, 2012

Coahoma County Circuit Judge Charles Webster Rules That Mississippi Tort Reform Limits On Jury Verdicts Are Unconstitutional

 

Circuit Judge Charles Webster has ruled that the limits on jury verdicts are unconstitutional because the legislature has no authority to interfere with the judicial branch of the government as found in our MS Constitution. american flag.jpg

A copy of the opinion can be viewed by clicking on the link here.

God bless Judge Webster and God bless our great state of Mississippi and its fine citizens!paul snow.jpg

March 27, 2012

Tractor-Trailer Truck Crosses Center- Line And Causes Head-On Accident In Union County, MS

 

An 18 wheeler tractor-trailer truck crossed over the center line and hit a pickup truck head-on injuring both the driver, Charles Beard of Myrtle, MS and his passenger who was airlifted to a hospital in Memphis, TN. The accident happened on hwy. 15 in Union County, MS.

The MHP said the truck driver was going too fast and couldn't stop in time,so he chose to go into the other lane causing the wreck.

The two people who were injured in the accident can make a claim against the 18 wheelers insurance company for the injuries that they received in the accident which include: past and future pain and suffering, past and future medical bills, past and future lost income, permanent injuries, and possibly punitive damages. A Mississippi accident/injury attorney should be consulted.paul snow.jpg

Our law office represents clients all over Mississippi including Union County, Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Warren, Marion, and the cities of Jackson, Gulfport, Biloxi, Hattiesburg, Tupelo, Ingomar,Myrtle and Southaven, MS. We handle injury and accident cases on a contingent fee basis which means that you only pay for our services if we collect money for you. Please call Paul Snow now to discuss your case FREE of charge at 601-969-1977 or contact us online.

December 13, 2011

18 Wheeler Overturns Killing One On Highway 49 Ramp In Pearl,Rankin County, MS

 

An 18 wheeler turned over on top of a car on the highway 49 ramp in pearl, rankin county, ms last week crushing a car in which cynthia trest was in resulting in her death;she was from bay springs, ms;three other people who were in the car were injured and taken to the university medical center in jackson, ms.18 wheeler.jpg

MDOT stated that the interstate 20 may be closed for hours. Accident reconstructionists are trying to figure out exactly why the big truck turned over on top of the car.

WHO CAN MAKE A CLAIM AGAINST WHOM AND WHY?
first, the family of cynthia trest may be able to make a claim for wrongful death damages which include: pain and suffering,medical and funeral bills, lost income, and loss of society and companionship of the family. These claims can be made against the 18 wheeler's insurance company who probably have at least $1,000,000 of insurance coverage (most big truck companies carry at least this much insurance). Also, a claim may be made for punitive damages against the 18 wheeler company if the proof shows that they made their truckdriver work more than the maximum hours for truckdrivers without taking the required rest breaks, or if he were an incompetent driver, or some other reason that the facts show.

Also, the three injured people in the car may also be able to make a claim against the tractor trailer truck's insurance company for personal injury damages which include: past and future medical bills, past and future lost income, past and future pain and suffering, reduced earning capacity, and permanent injuries. They also may make a claim for punitive damages.

So, who gets what if there is only $1,000,000 of insurance coverage? The short answer is first come first served;thats right;it is possible for the three injured people to exhaust all of the $1,000,000 of insurance coverage leaving nothing to the family of cynthia trest, or vice versa, its possible for the family of cynthia trest to collect all of the $1,000,000 leaving nothing for the three injured passengers in the car.

So what all this means is that it is extremely important to hire an MS accident lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights before it is too late. We have handled a number of 18 wheeler accident cases to successful conclusion for our clients and their families; just look at our track record and compare it to anyone else's and you will see that we have the knowledge, know how and experience to handle this type of case for you.

Call now for a FREE consultation at 601-969-1977 or contact us online. We represent clients all over MS including: jackson, gulfport, biloxi, hattiesburg, greenville, meridian, tupelo, southaven, vicksburg, pascagoula, columbus,clinton, pearl, starkville, olive branch, clarksdale, ridgeland, natchez, greenwood and laurel, MS. The law offices of Paul Snow handles all types of cases involving serious injury and death including car accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, motorcycle accidents, drunk driving accidents, and accidents from defective products.paul snow.jpg

January 27, 2011

Jackson, Mississippi Accident Injury Lawyer Discusses "Do You Need To Hire A Lawyer?"

 

Do I need to hire a Lawyer?

You probably never thought about hiring a Mississippi accident lawyer until an accident or injury completely interrupted your normal life. If you are now experiencing stress and anxiety because you are uncertain about your future, we can help you. We listen to your concerns and quickly identify how the legal system can solve your problems. We then start working on your case immediately.

Discover The Key To Winning Your Case

Many people do not understand the importance of choosing the right lawyer for their case. Simply put, the Mississippi accident lawyer that you choose to represent you can be the difference between you receiving a fair settlement or no settlement at all.

The key to winning your case is really no secret. It is common knowledge that the person with the best attorney most often gets the best result. Just ask athletes, celebrities and the wealthy who always have a top lawyer at their side. The key for you is finding the best attorney for your case.

Avoid The Biggest Mistake By Asking These Questions

Choosing the wrong lawyer is a huge mistake and can be devastating to your case. Many people simply hire the first lawyer they see on television or the lawyer with the biggest phone book advertisement without knowing anything about the ability of the lawyer. Will you make this crucial mistake simply because you do not know the right questions to ask before you choose your attorney?

With such an important decision, you must be equipped with the knowledge and information necessary to make the smartest choice. This means knowing the specific Questions You Must Ask before hiring a lawyer for your case. You should only hire an attorney after getting honest and direct answers to these questions.

Our Vast Experience Gives You the Advantage

We are the smart choice for your case. Our law firm has represented injury victims and their families since 1974. We have successfully obtained jury verdicts in the courtroom and have obtained millions of dollars in settlements for our clients.

When you become our client, your case will be handled with complete integrity and dignity.

It is essential that you choose a lawyer that has handled Mississippi accident cases just like yours and understands exactly what is needed to win your case, especially when the stakes are so high. We have. We utilize the latest technology, the best legal research tools, and work with world renowned experts on our cases. As a result, we have achieved extraordinary results for our clients. Let us do the same for you. Our record of successful settlements and verdicts is well-documented.

Warning: Secret Deadlines Can Destroy Your Case

The legal system can be very confusing and unforgiving. There are strict time limitations for filing your lawsuit and making your claims. If you miss these deadlines, your claims may be lost forever. A delay in hiring a lawyer will affect the outcome of your case. We will start working on your case immediately.

Our Guarantees To You:

When you choose our lawyers to represent you, we GUARANTEE the following:


An experienced trial lawyer is assigned to your case
A complete analysis of your case
Honest and direct answers to all of your questions
Immediate investigation of your case
Immediate preparation and filing of your insurance forms
Immediate action getting your medical bills and lost wages paid
Phone calls returned within one business day

Read why these are important to you

We Answer Your Questions

At the Law Offices of Paul Snow, we give you honest and direct answers to your questions.


What does it cost to speak with Paul Snow?
How can I afford to have the Law Offices of Paul Snow to represent me?
How soon after my accident do I need to hire a lawyer?
Do I really need to hire a lawyer to settle my case?
What type of settlement should I expect?
Will I have to go through a trial in a courtroom?
Who will pay my medical bills?
How can I get paid my lost wages?
How long does it take from start to finish on a case?

To see how we can help make the legal system work for you, simply complete our Free Confidential Consultation Form or call us now so that we can start working on your Mississippi case immediately.paul snow.jpg

LAW OFFICES OF PAUL SNOW, Mississippi Accident Lawyer

1-800-640-4478 or 601-969-1977

June 30, 2010

B.P. Oil Disaster Claim Forms

 

Oil spills are probably some of the most devastating disasters to occur. The Exxon Valdez oil spill happened more than twenty-one years ago, but its effects are still being felt today. This oil spill occurred on March 24, 1989 and the leak was mostly confined to the surface of the ocean. The BP oil spill began on April 20,2010 caused when a damaged well pipe burst resulting in an explosion on the oil platform owned by Deepwater Horizon releasing oil 5,000 feet below the surface.220px-Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_2010.jpg

The Exxon spill was limited to a single tanker and spilled about 11 million gallons of oil in one day covering 1,300 square miles. The BP spill has spilled more than the Exxon spill so far and it is still going strong. Both spills have and will kill brown pelicans, egrets, terns, sperm whales, tuna, sea turtles and more. But, fish can't sue. Only people can.

The lawsuits in the Exxon spill were tied up in the courts for over 20 years. More than 32,000 fishermen, food processors, and Native Americans banded together to recover damages from Exxon. The case was drug out by Exxon lawyers for 19 years until it finally reached the Supreme Court. By this time, more than 7,000 plaintiffs have died. The lawyers won $500,000 million in actual damages and $5 billion in punitive damages. It took five years to get to trial;then it took another fourteen years in the appeals court where the case finally arrived in the Supreme Court before Justice John Roberts in 2008. By that time, the punitive damages were reduced to $2.5 billion.

The first question from Roberts was: "Isn't the question here how a company can protect itself from unlimited damages?" If Bush v. Gore had been decided differently, you might have had a chief justice who asked: "How can a fisherman protect himself from an oil spill?" But, by a 5-3 vote, the Roberts court cut the punitive damage award to one-fifth from $2.5 billion to $500 million. Another justice, David Souter,ruled with the majority and stated that Exxon's actions were not malicious. So if you drive a boat while drunk and cause millions and billions of dollars of damages, it is not malicious;but, if you drive a car drunk,it is not only malicious, but you go to jail. The Exxon case is a perfect example of judicial activism.

So, what is going to happen in the gulf of mexico? BP will pay for cleanup costs,various government agencies will assess huge fines for BP's conduct, but the real money will come during the tort claims process and trial. If we can prove punitive damages, i.e., that BP's conduct was grossly, wantonly, or maliciously done, then the door is open to punitive damages. The testimony of a rig worker claims that BP officials overrode rig operations and forced a speedy opening as opposed to considering the consequences of failing to repair several broken parts before opening. This proof, in and of itself, should make a jury issue on punitive damages.oil_shoveled-apha-100602.jpg

TYPES OF DAMAGES AND LOSSES: People can make a claim for damages for loss of business, loss of job or reduced income, damage to property, vacation losses,etc. Some examples are: fishing, shrimping, oyster companies and employees, hospitality and tourism businesses and employees,property and boat owners, shipping and trade business and employees, vacationers (lost vacation deposits and expenses), cruise ship employees, charter services, restaurant owners and employees.

COMPANIES THAT MAY BE RESPONSIBLE: BP, Transocean, Halliburton,Anadarko, Cameron,Mitsui & co. and more.

We are working on investigations and damage claims to get compensation for those of you whose income, business, health, property, or other assets have been affected by the BP oil disaster. Investigated claims are settled faster. Your case could be settled quickly out of court to avoid long processes.

We will supply you with BP claim forms and information for maximum recovery. Call our toll free number if you have any questions, 1-800-640-4478. We cannot send out any claim forms until you complete our form under "contact us" on our website at www.accidentattys.com.

Your BP claim forms and information are free as a service to you and we will help determine if you are eligible for any recovery of damages.

December 31, 2009

Jackson, Mississippi Accident/Injury Lawyer Tells "Why I Became A Lawyer"

 


Why I became a Lawyer?

I was in the eighth grade and approximately 13 years old when I decided that I either wanted to become a golf pro or a lawyer. After graduating from high school, I was one of the best golfers in the State of Mississippi and received a golf scholarship to the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). My freshman year, I became a pledge in one of the fraternities on the Ole Miss Campus among 50 other pledges. After the first semester, only 10 of the 50 pledges made passing grades. 40 of the pledges flunked out of college. Of the 10 pledges that made their grades the first semester, three of us became lawyers, two of us became doctors, and one of us became a flight instructor in the Navy. I knew then that I must have some common sense and hard-working ability to succeed in school. I married my high school sweetheart and went to a local community college for my sophomore year. My junior year, I returned to Ole Miss and graduated with a business degree in May of 1972. Two weeks later, I entered the University of Mississippi School of Law. Because I was paying my own way through law school, my goal was to finish the three year curriculum course in two years and three months. I worked extra jobs during college and knew that I would have to work extra jobs during law school, in addition to obtaining student loans. I took extra courses during the summertime in order to complete law school early. At that time, my income was below the average poverty level for the country. I was married and at that time, had one child, and just did the best I could.

Midway through my law school career, my father became paralyzed and I had to miss one summer of law school to help take care of my father. While I was taking care of my father, I worked for a local law firm as a law clerk and learned valuable experience in how a law firm operated. When I returned to law school, I had a new-found knowledge that assisted me in my classes. Also, while I was in law school, I was the President of the legal fraternity, President of the Lamar Society of International Law, and I drafted legislation which was passed by the Mississippi lawmakers. I graduated law school in December of 1974, which took two years and six months instead of two years and three months. Of the 360 students who started law school when I did, only 80 graduated.

After graduating from law school, I started working for the law firm of Barnett, Montgomery, McClintock & Cunningham. Ross Barnett was an ex-governor of Mississippi. These lawyers were trial lawyers and I received valuable experience learning how to try cases while working for this firm. I tried 10 jury trials by myself my first year out of law school. After a year and a half of working at the law firm, I went out on my own and have been on my own ever since, for the past 34 years. I was the youngest President of the Hinds County Trial Lawyers Association and joined numerous organizations during my career.

I have devoted my career to representing individuals who have been injured or killed in accidents or wronged by big corporations and insurance companies. I represent the little guy against the large businesses and corporations who try to take advantage of the less fortunate. There is nothing more satisfying than taking on one of the biggest corporations in the world and making them answer for the problems they have caused numerous victims. I am proud to be a trial lawyer who represents individuals against corporate America.

When those who have been injured or killed have nowhere else to turn, they turn to me. I believe one of my goals and duties as a human being is to help others. I am always in favor of the underdog. When we walk into the courtroom, there is no other place on this planet where an individual can stand on equal footing with a huge corporate defendant. This is the war that I fight. It is waged at a battlefield on which I gladly stand. My strength is derived from the belief that my God-given talents are given to me for a reason. My goal is to make myself available to those who have been wronged by others' misconduct. It is not a glamorous calling and there is no guaranteed income. My goal is to achieve justice for my clients, working to right wrongs, not hide them, working against the wrongdoers, not for them. At the end of the day, I know that I have given someone without hope a fighting chance.

I have litigated and settled just about any type of accident or injury case that you can think of. I have spoken at seminars and taught other lawyers how to handle accident and injury cases across the country. I have written numerous articles, also teaching other lawyers how to handle these type of cases. A lot of lawyers hire my law firm in order to represent their clients in working-up serious injury and death cases.

If someone asked me what kind of lawyer I am, I say I am a trial lawyer. I believe in America, our form of government, individual freedom, and our American legal system. I represent and help people to protect, enforce and preserve those precious rights and individual freedoms which were so wisely granted by the founding fathers of our great nation. The spark that was ignited in me in 1964 has kept me satisfied for over 34 years of trial practice. I am proud to be an American and I am especially proud to be a trial lawyer.american flag.jpg

One day, we will all be judged for our actions. As far as my actions go as a plaintiff attorney, I look forward to placing them before the ultimate judge. I represent plaintiffs and I would not change that for all the money in the world.

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered. Proverbs 21:13.

Mississippi Accident Lawyer Paul Snow 601-969-1977.

December 29, 2009

Jackson, Mississippi Accident/Injury Lawyer Explains Seven Misconceptions About Injury Cases

 


Seven Misconceptions About Injury Cases

MISCONCEPTION #1: I can settle my case without hiring a lawyer.

If you're happy with the amount of money the insurance company offers for your car - and if you're happy to have your medical bills paid - then you're right. You don't need to hire a lawyer.

Still, it's important that you understand what you're entitled to. In most cases, you are entitled to more than merely payment to cover your medical bills and repairs to your car. That's why I urge you to talk with a lawyer over the telephone before you accept an insurance company's offer.

When you speak with a lawyer, you'll learn that a lawyer can help you in a number of ways. First, he can help you get your car repaired. Second, he can help you get the fair value for your car. Third, he can help you get a fast settlement on your car.

Your lawyer takes the hassle out of dealing with the insurance company. And, in our office, we provide all these services for our clients at NO CHARGE. In other' words, we don't take one penny of the money we collect for damage to your car. Our fee is limited to a percentage of what we recover for your injuries and damages - nothing more.

MISCONCEPTION #2: An attorney requires a down payment to accept your injury claim.

No. In our office, we accept most accident cases for a contingency fee. This means we get paid out of the money we recover for you. If you collect nothing, you pay nothing for our services. To start, you can talk with us for free. And if you hire our services, you pay nothing until your case settles and we recover money for you.

MISCONCEPTION #3: I'll have to go to court to get what my case is worth.

Usually not. Most injury cases are settled before your case goes to court. When the insurance company realizes you and your lawyer are ready and willing to go to court, usually the insurance company starts making reasonable offers for your injury claim. If we don't like the first offer, we make a counteroffer. Then we go back and forth until both sides agree on a certain amount. In most cases, injury claims don't require a court trial.

MISCONCEPTION #4: You have to accept what your lawyer tells you.

Certainly not. Anytime you feel confused - anytime you don't understand what's going on anytime you don't feel right about something - you're entitled to get a second opinion. In the field of medicine, if your doctor suggests major surgery, you know it's wise to get a second opinion. Likewise, anytime you speak with one lawyer, you're perfectly free to confirm his advice by seeking a second opinion from another lawyer. In our office, we offer second opinions without cost or obligation of any kind.

MISCONCEPTION #5: Once you settle your claim, you can get more money in the future if you have additional medical bills.

Not true. Usually, once your claim is settled, it is over forever!

MISCONCEPTION #6: You have only one year to file a lawsuit.

No. You have three years from the date of the accident and, maybe, even longer if you were under 21 years of age at the time. Even so, the evidence you need to prove your case may disappear over time, so the sooner you contact an attorney, the better.

MISCONCEPTION #7: If you are partly at fault for causing the accident, you are not entitled to any money.

No. Both sides may contribute to an accident and you are still entitled to recover money.paul snow.jpg

If you have any questions, call Paul Snow at 601-969-1977 or contact us online for a FREE consultation. DO NOT wait until it is too late to pursue your case. There are time deadlines that will prevent you from pursuing your case if they are not met, so call now.

December 26, 2009

Jackson, Mississippi Accident/Injury Lawyer Suggests 16 Tough Questions To Ask Before You Hire A Lawyer

 


16 Tough Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Lawyer

1. How long have you been practicing in the specific field of accident and injury law?

2. Are you board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy?

3. How many cases have you handled that involve injuries like mine?

4. How many jury trials have you tried that involve injuries like mine?

5. How much money have you gotten for persons who have injuries like mine?

6. How many of your articles have been published in the area of accident and injury law?

7. How many seminars have you presented concerning this area of the law?

8. Do you have expert witnesses available who will help in cases with my type of injury?

9. Are you admitted to practice law in more than one state?

10. Are you admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court?

11. Do you offer a 24-hour telephone answer-line for injured victims?

12. Will you give an estimated opinion of my case for me without cost or obligation?

13. If I can't come to your office, will you come to my home or office?

14. Will you send me a free Consumer's Guide for Injured Victims?

15. Do you conduct free educational seminars so I can learn more about injury cases?

16. How many multi-million dollar verdicts and/or settlements have you achieved for your clients?paul snow.jpg

If you have any questions, call Paul Snow at 601-969-1977 or contact us online for a FREE consultation. DO NOT wait until it is too late to discuss your case. There are time deadlines that must be met. Once the deadline has passed, your case will be over forever.

December 25, 2009

Jackson, Mississippi Accident/Injury Lawyer Warns About 8 Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Selecting An Accident Lawyer

 


8 Costly Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting An Accident Lawyer


MISTAKE #1: Choosing a lawyer who doesn't have enough trial experience.

The most important factor in choosing an accident lawyer is his knowledge, skill and experience handling injury claims. This includes (1) experience handling injury cases, and (2) experience taking injury cases to trial. In most cases, the money you hope to recover for your injuries will come from an insurance company - either the other person's insurance company - or your own. And one of the reasons insurance companies have so much money is because they pay accident victims like you as little as possible - often less than you deserve. Make sure the lawyer you select has extensive experience handling personal injury cases at trial. Your best choice is to select a lawyer who is a board certified trial lawyer.

MISTAKE #2: Choosing a lawyer only because you like his advertising.

A flashy TV commercial or Yellow Page ad doesn't mean anything except that the lawyer agreed to pay for the ad. Advertising can make almost any lawyer look like an expert. Don't choose a lawyer solely because you like his ad. Make sure you ask questions about the attorney's experience and his track record in handling injury claims.

MISTAKE #3: Choosing the lawyer who promises you the most money.

The amount of money you're entitled to recover, called "damages," is based on many components: (1) the length of your recovery, (2) the dollar amount of your medical bills, and (3) the dollar amount of lost wages, (4) pain and suffering, and (5) the severity of your injuries and damages. No one can tell you exactly what your case is worth until they gather all the facts. Anyone who promises you a certain amount of money before he gets this information is making a promise he probably can't keep.

MISTAKE #4: Choosing a lawyer because he expects to settle your case.

Most injury cases are settled without going to trial. Even so, if you hope to get a fair settlement for your injuries, your lawyer must be willing to take the insurance company to court. Otherwise, the insurance company has no incentive to offer you a fair amount of money for your injuries. If you hire a "settling attorney" - one who usually settles his cases and seldom goes to court - you can expect to receive less money for your injuries than if you hire a skilled trial attorney. Remember: The most powerful weapon you can use against the insurance company is your willingness and ability to take your case to trial.

MISTAKE #5:Choosing a lawyer because of a referral from a friend.

When a friend refers you to a lawyer, be careful. Yes, your friend probably means well. But your friend may not be the best source for a referral. You see, people often select a lawyer because they like him. But you need a lawyer who is much more than just a nice person. You need an attorney who has the trial experience to go up against billion-dollar insurance companies. Insurance companies hire experienced investigators, adjusters and lawyers to work against you. You need a highly experienced lawyer and his investigators working for you. Your best choice is to select a board-certified trial lawyer who will discuss his track record with you, case by case.

MISTAKE #6:Choosing a lawyer because he appears successful.

A handsome office and an expensive car don't tell you anything about the lawyer's experience. Don't judge a lawyer by appearances. Judge a lawyer by whether he has the knowledge, skill, experience and willingness to (1) sue the other party, and to (2) take your case to trial, if necessary. That's the BEST way you can be sure you recover the amount of money you deserve.

MISTAKE #7:Choosing a lawyer because of the location of his office.

You may be inclined to select a lawyer who has an office down the street from your home. But this could be a big mistake because what you gain in convenience you may lose in experience and knowhow. Most of the work between an injury lawyer and his client is done by mail and over the telephone. I encourage you to hire a board-certified trial attorney, even if you must drive a little farther to his office. You may find that the extra minutes on the road will be well worth your effort in the end. And if travel is difficult for you, we will be glad to come to your home or office. Just ask. We serve clients all over Mississippi and Louisiana.

MISTAKE #8: Not reviewing the lawyer's track record.

You can get a good idea of a lawyer's experience by reviewing his track record of cases that he has settled or taken to trial. Ask the attorney how many cases he has settled for over $1,000,000, between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and so forth. This will give you a way of determining the level of the attorney's experience.paul snow.jpg

If you have any questions, call Paul Snow at 601-969-1977 or contact us online for a FREE consultation. Do NOT wait until it is too late to pursue your case. There are time deadlines that will end your case forever if the deadline is not met.

December 24, 2009

Jackson, Mississippi Accident/Injury Lawyer Tells Secrets To Getting A Fair Settlement

 


15 Secrets to Getting a Fair Settlement for Your Injuries

SECRET #1: Conduct a complete investigation. Make sure you collect witness statements, police reports, medical reports and anything else related to the accident. You may need to hire private investigators and accident reconstruction experts. They can gather added physical evidence, such as pieces of the -automobile. The other party's insurance company will collect all sorts of information which may be used against you. You'll be at a serious disadvantage if you don't conduct a thorough investigation to help support your claim.

SECRET #2: Get photographs of all important elements in your case: Your car and the car that hit you. The accident scene. Your injuries. And so forth. Photos are vivid evidence of what you experienced. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Juries find photos to be powerful proof of your injuries. So make sure either you or your attorney gets plenty of photographs.

SECRET #3: Don't release your medical records to the other party's insurance company. Many accident victims make the mistake of signing a release for the other party's insurance company. This gives your opponent access to your medical records. YOUR insurance company is entitled to your medical information. But the other party's insurance company should NOT have this information because it may use the information against you. Don't release your medical records to the other party's insurance company.

SECRET #4: Get the insurance company to set up a high reserve account. After an accident, the insurance company establishes a reserve account to cover all the costs they expect to pay for your claim. The amount of money put on reserve is based on whatever facts the insurance company has soon after the accident occurs. If the reserve set aside for your injuries is greater than your damages, you shouldn't have much trouble collecting for your injuries. But if the reserve is too small, you'll need to get the reserve increased. Rather than increase the reserve, the insurance company will first put pressure on the adjuster to settle your claim. And, naturally, he'll put more pressure on you.

SECRET #5: Keep the adjuster informed about the seriousness of your injuries. If the adjuster sets up a small reserve account, he will be surprised if you ask for much higher damages in the weeks or months ahead. If your injuries have grown worse - or if other problems have arisen - make sure you keep the adjuster informed so he can increase the reserve account as your case progresses. Then, when the time comes to settle your claim, the adjuster will have the amount of money he needs to pay you for your injuries. If his account is too small and he needs to increase it, he'll look bad to his supervisor. This will only work against you. Keep the adjuster informed as your case progresses.

SECRET #6: Don't let the insurance adjuster pressure you into settling your case. Adjusters use all kinds of methods to get you to settle for a smaller amount than the fair value of your case: The insurance adjuster may try to get you to admit that the accident was your fault, or at least partly your fault. The adjuster may try to get you to give a recorded statement or sign a statement, either of which may be used against you later at trial. What's more, don't be surprised if the insurance adjuster is polite. His kindness may be a tactic to get you to settle for less than your case is worth - and to get you to settle soon, often BEFORE you hire an attorney. The longer your file remains open, the more heat the insurance company puts on the adjuster to resolve your claim. Don't give in to the adjuster's pressure or kindness. Instead, hold out for every penny you rightfully deserve. If the insurance company does not offer a reasonable amount to settle your case, your lawyer can file suit and tell you whether the insurance company offers are reasonable or unreasonable.

SECRET #7: Keep a day-by-day diary of your injuries. If your case goes to trial, you need to be able to tell the jury how many days, weeks or months you were in pain, how long you suffered from headaches, how long you experienced muscle spasms - and so forth. Unless you keep a daily log, your answers may be vague and inaccurate. Don't risk hurting your credibility. Keep a detailed diary so you can back up your claims for damages.

SECRET #8: Know all your damages. They include (1) cost of medical treatment, (2) pain and suffering for your injuries, (3) loss of income for time off work, (4) loss of consortium, (5) loss of business, (6) cost of a rental car, (7) cost of fixing your car, (8) cost of hiring a housekeeper, (9) cost of hiring an in-home nurse, (10) cost for psychological counseling caused by stress or some other aspect of the accident, (II) cost of hiring a taxi service to and from your doctor's office - and ANY OTHER money you paid out or lost as a result of your injury.

SECRET #9: Keep all bills and receipts related to your accident. If you don't save your bills and receipts, you may not be able to prove the amount of your damages. Be sure to save everything: doctor bills, hospital bills, pharmacy bills and all other bills you incurred because of your accident.

SECRET #10: Know all your injuries. Many victims feel that if it doesn't hurt, it isn't injured. Yet injuries caused by accidents may not develop for days - even weeks. Don't be too quick to rule out injuries just because they haven't yet appeared. Also, accidents can cause the injured victim to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This means the victim becomes less able to cope with stresses in his or her life. Depending on how well you cope with stress, you may want to be evaluated for this problem in addition to your physical injuries.

SECRET #11: Know your sources for insurance coverage. In many cases an injured victim can legally collect from two or three different insurance policies at the same time. Yet many accident victims don't know where to look for various insurance coverages. If you're interested, call me and I'll tell you how to determine whether you can collect from more than one policy.

SECRET #12: Stay under your doctor's care until your doctor releases you. Many people stop going to their doctor when they feel better, before the doctor releases them from treatment. Make sure you continue going to the doctor until your doctor releases you! He knows the complications that could result from your injury. And the cost of going to the doctor will, in the end, be paid by the other party's insurance company if your case is settled. If you can't afford the continuing cost of treatment, I invite you to call me to discuss your options.

SECRET #13: File your lawsuit right away. After your doctor releases you from treatment, prepare your case quickly and file your lawsuit. Insurance companies are not in a hurry to settle cases (1) unless they can settle the suit for far less than it's worth,or (2) unless they feel the pressure of the approaching court date. Insurance companies usually get serious about settling if they see they'll have to start paying lawyers to defend your case. So file your lawsuit right away and put pressure on the insurance company.

SECRET #14: Ask a qualified trial lawyer to evaluate your case. You probably had a doctor evaluate your injuries. So doesn't it make sense to have a lawyer evaluate your legal claim? The insurance company wants you to settle quickly in hopes that you'll settle for far less than your case is really worth. An experienced personal injury trial attorney can help you by reviewing your file. He will look at the police report, doctors' statements, medical bills, time lost from work and other information. Then he can give you an informed opinion about the estimated value of your case. If you'd like me to evaluate your case - without any cost or obligation - please don't hesitate to call.

SECRET #15: If you decide to hire a lawyer, choose a trial attorney who isn't afraid to go to court. Insurance companies keep tabs on lawyers. They know which lawyers will take them to court - the fighters. And they know which lawyers will not go to court - the settlers. The fighters usually get more money for their clients than the settlers. An experienced trial attorney can usually get you enough additional money to cover his fee and increase the amount of money you receive. While I can't say for sure that you need a lawyer, I urge you to at least talk with an accident lawyer to make sure you're not settling for less than you deserve.paul snow.jpg

If you have any questions, you may call Paul Snow at 601-969-1977 for a FREE consultation or contact us online. Do NOT wait until it is too late to do something on your case because there are time deadlines that must be met or else your case will be over forever.

December 2, 2009

Court Affirms $82,000,000 Award Against Ford For Roof Collapse In Rollover Accident

 

The United States Supreme Court has decided to leave in place an award of $82 million against Ford Motor Company when a Ford Explorer rolled over causing the roof to collapse on the driver's neck resulting in her becoming paralyzed from the waist down. Ms. Buell-Wilson was driving her 1997 Ford Explorer on an interstate in January, 2002, when she swerved to avoid a metal object in the road,lost control of her Explorer which rolled over 4 1/2 times. When the roof collapsed on her neck, it severed her spine. Ford claimed that it was not liable for punitive damages because Ford contended that its design met federal safety standards. The jury concluded that Ford knew that the Explorer had design defects that made it prone to rollover in emergency maneuvers which resulted in roof collapses. The lower Court rejected Ford's contention, but the award was reduced twice by other Courts. The case is Ford v. Buell-Wilson, 09-297.

If you know of someone who has been seriously injured or killed in a rollover or roof crush case and have some questions, call Paul Snow at 601-969-1977 or 1-800-640-4478 or contact us online. We will talk with you FREE of charge to see if you have a case. We do not charge any attorney fees unless we win a settlement for you. Do not wait until it is too late, call now.

Information provided by Mississippi Accident Lawyer Paul Snow.

October 30, 2009

DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES IN MISSISSIPPI

 

Drunk drivers cause tragic accidents resulting in serious personal injury and, in more severe accidents, death. Mississippi drunk driving law allows financial compensation for victims and punishes intoxicated motorists and alcohol providers who served them, including bars, package liquor stores, and grocery stores.

These special laws allow for recovery of punitive damages against the alcohol provider. Punitive damages may be awarded, in addition to compensatory damages (compensatory damages include medical expenses, lost earnings and damages for pain and suffering and other losses).

Mississippi accident lawyer Paul Snow has the resources and experience to make alcohol providers and their insurance companies pay for the damages that they cause. In fact, Paul Snow has obtained a structured settlement for $4,500,000 for two high school students who were injured by a minor who bought alcohol from Kroger and Super D in Jackson, Mississippi.

If you have been injured or had a loved one killed as the result of a drunk driver, contact Paul Snow to insure that your rights are protected. Call us at 601-969-1977 or 1-800-640-4478 or contact us online to discuss your legal rights FREE of charge.