Personal injury law

As you know, in this column I examine how individual solo and small-firm lawyers are using new technologies in their day-to-day practices. Hopefully, my columns will encourage and help other lawyers to do the same.

In today’s column you will meet Mitch Jackson, a California personal injury attorney, and will learn how he uses the wearable technology Google Glass in his law firm. Mitch founded his law firm, Jackson & Wilson, Inc., with his wife in 1988. Since then they’ve dedicated their practice to representing victims of personal injury and wrongful death.

It’s entirely possible that you’ve already heard of Mitch. Whether on Twitter, LinkedInFacebook, or YouTube, he has an incredibly strong social media presence. Most recently, part of his online focus has been on his use of Google Glass in his law practice. So of course he immediately came to mind when I conceived of the idea for the column. I knew I had to reach out to Mitch and explore how he uses Google Glass in his practice — and whether the technology is actually useful or whether it’s too nascent to be particularly helpful for lawyers.

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The ceiling of a Columbia dorm room collapsed on a student, giving her a herniated disk and persistent headaches. She claims the back injury compromised her ability to get a decent night’s sleep and forced her to take muscle relaxants to deal with the pain.

Now the newly minted lawyer is suing the school over her injuries, and the school’s lawyer is suggesting that the victim can’t really have this back injury because she kept getting good grades.

Brilliant legal strategy!

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Millionaire playboy Dan Bilzerian threw a naked woman off a roof, as millionaire playboys are wont to do. Seriously, the number of naked women hurled off Gracie Mansion during the Bloomberg years defies calculation. This woman survived and made noise about suing. That sounds reasonable enough, except apparently the woman, porn star Janice Griffith, had contracted with genteel periodical Hustler to be “picked up by nature’s handlebar” and tossed off the roof into a waiting pool. That she broke her foot in the process is, from Bilzerian’s perspective, not his fault.

Nonetheless, she suggested filing suit, and Bilzerian’s lawyer responded with one of the most epically brutal takedown letters ever.

And it’s by a lawyer you all know.

So if you want to (a) see a video (appropriately blurred out) of what we’re talking about, (b) read the hilarious letter, or (c) just find out what famed lawyer is this funny, by all means click on….

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So a guy hurt himself doing something that most of us would consider stupid. Then filed a lawsuit. It’s all hilarious.

Spreading stories about frivolous injury claims poses a moral quandary. While snicker-worthy suits like those often chronicled at Overlawyered are highly entertaining, the thinly veiled motivation behind circulating these tales is eroding confidence in the courts and promoting the dangerous assumption that all plaintiffs are crazy people trying to get rich quick. It’s all about using wacky outliers to convince everyone that the system is “out of control” before the next time some company poisons a water supply or something like that.

But there are some wacky lawsuits that need to be discussed because they ask something more fundamental. Like this one where a physical trainer decided — for no real reason — to do something EXTREME, got an EXTREME injury, and filed an EXTREME lawsuit.

And the fundamental question posed by this case is why we’re seeing more and more people with all of the sense of entitlement to do “whatever they want, whenever they want,” yet simultaneously possessing none of the commitment to personal responsibility for the consequences…

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It takes a certain kind of personal-injury lawyer to look at the facts of this glittering night and wrest from them a plausible plaintiff and defendant, unless it were possible for Travis Hughes to be sued by his own anus.

Caitlin Flanagan, regaling readers with the tale of Louis Helmberg III v. Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity and Travis Hughes, in a hard-hitting piece documenting her investigation into Greek fraternity houses and their “endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems.”

In the Helmburg case, the plaintiff sued for his injuries after falling off ATO’s deck and becoming wedged between it and an A/C unit. Prior to his fall, Helmsburg reportedly attempted to use his cellphone to film Hughes shooting a bottle rocket out of his ass. Instead of soaring into the air, the bottle rocket exploded in Hughes’s rectum. Helmberg was so startled he tumbled off the deck.

(Special things like this happen at frats regularly. Read on to see the complaint.)

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Jamie Casino has been on a roll. First he beat insurance companies with a sledgehammer from what appeared to be the set of Book of Eli, and then he forever answered the question, “What if Metallica made a personal injury lawyer ad?” — in a Super Bowl commercial that went viral.

He’s really raised his game. I mean, he didn’t always make commercials out of smoke pots and awesome.

And now he’s hit another milestone. Because the sign of a truly great artist is not the work of art itself, it’s inspiring others…

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Here was the ominous message that my colleague Joe Patrice received late last week from Georgia personal-injury lawyer Jamie Casino:

Hey Joe,

I saw the [story] you wrote about me. Good work. I got something big coming out at halftime during the Super bowl. Be sure to check it out.

JC

I didn’t know if that was a threat, but now I see that it was a promise. We couldn’t “check it out” during the game, being up here in New York, but afterwards readers started sending us tips about an explosive lawyer ad that had played locally in Georgia.

Uhh… be sure to check it out…

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The kind of person who makes the rules about lawyer advertising through text messages.

When I find myself pontificating on lawyer propriety, you know things are bad. But a new ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court leaves me with no choice. Ohio has decided that it’s okay for lawyers to text message accident victims to advertise their services.

Can you imagine sitting in a hospital, recovering from injuries, and then getting a text message from an unknown number: “R U OK? I can get U $$$. I sue ppl 4 U!”

We live in a world where the Ohio Supreme Court said that such solicitations are “helpful.” In other news, we live in a world where old judges who don’t know what the f**k they’re talking about get to make the rules about technology they don’t understand….

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Debrahlee Lorenzana

[S]he got nerve damage. What’s unusual about that? Sometimes they screw up.

Frank Panetta, lawyer for Debrahlee Lorenzana, issuing comment on the buxom beauty’s latest lawsuit against Quest Diagnostics. She’s now claiming that she suffered “serious and severe permanent injuries” after getting her blood drawn.

(You may remember Ms. Lorenzana from her lawsuit against Citigroup, in which she alleged that she was let go for being distractingly attractive.)

* First things first: remember to send us your legally themed Halloween costumes! [Above the Law]

* George Clooney may be dating the “hottest female barrister in London.” [Legal Cheek]

* This painting suggests there’s a senior partner who gets away with wearing sandals to work. [Lowering the Bar]

* This is a really useful practice tip: how to cite URLs in briefs without having them look all messed up. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* O.J. Simpson’s house sold at a foreclosure auction for a mere $655,000. This must be a disappointing deal for him — I’m sure he expected to make a killing. [Daily Business Review]

* Blackacre blocks access to a public beach. But the owner of Blackacre uses the Mexican-American War as an excuse to ignore the easement. Apparently he wins. People are also entirely awful. [Valleywag]

* I also hate when McDonald’s screws up my order, but it’s not worth getting the police involved. [Legal Juice]

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