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Summer Newsletter 2011
|In This Issue
• Big Brother is Watching You
• Underinsured Motorist Coverage
• Clients Win Cases in St. Louis County and before Division of Workers’ Compensation
• Casey Elected Vice-President of the Lawyers Association and Honored by Supreme Court
• “Hot Coffee”
|Big Brother is Watching You
Most of us think of the federal government when we hear the term “Big Brother”. “Big Brother” brings to mind a federal agent in a dark suit, sitting in a black sedan or the rear of a panel-van watching and listening to our every move.
In our profession, we think of “Big Brother” as the insurance industry. In real life, insurers hire investigators to follow claimants, videotape their actions and follow the injured person to and from their place of work, the house of a friend or family member and on errands, such as a trip to the local grocery store. Insurance is a big business. Insurers are successful. And, insurers are cut-throat.
In the week leading to Independence Day, Matt Casey and I both tried cases in which the primary defense to our client’s respective claims was video surveillance. In essence, the insurers and their lawyers defended their cases by claiming that our clients were lying or otherwise exaggerating the effects of their injuries. In Matt’s case, the defense flopped; the jury entered a verdict for nearly three times the offer made prior to trial and 29 times the amount defense counsel suggested would be reasonable during his closing argument. In my case, the defense learned at trial that the investigator hired by the insurer followed and taped the wrong person! My client is now awaiting the Award from the Workers’ Compensation judge.
Our clients were vindicated. But, both felt violated. I can’t adequately put into words the anger, frustration and other emotions that I observed on the face of my client as he watched video of his home and sister and neighbors and community on the television screen. “What did I do wrong? I’m not the one that [hurt me].”
In both matters, we knew that our clients had done nothing wrong. In fact, our clients had done no more than what we had told them to do – get up, do their best and live their life. The insurers used surveillance as a means of intimidation – a threat of what was to come at trial should the injured person merely ask for that they were owed by the person whose negligence changed their life.
It takes a strong person to try their case to a jury of 12 people or to place their case in the hands of a judge they do not know. In essence, trials are about judgment. We remain proud to prepare our clients for that day and to do all that is necessary to prepare their case so that trial may be avoided.
Please let us know if we can ever help you, a family member or a friend with a personal injury claim.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Our practice includes the representation of people injured in motor vehicle collisions. From time to time, the motorist that caused the collision does not have enough insurance coverage to fairly compensate our client – the injured person.
Unfortunately, we are seeing this situation more and more often as the price of medical care escalates, health insurance plans become more aggressive in attempting to recover benefits paid on behalf of the injured person and motorists cut their level of coverage to try to save a few dollars off their monthly insurance premium.
Fortunately, you can act to protect yourself. Many insurers offer a type of protection called “underinsured motorist coverage”. This coverage refers to coverage intended to provide a source of recovery for someone who has been injured by a negligent motorist whose own liability coverage is insufficient to fully compensate the injured person for the damages they suffered. In this circumstance, the injured person makes a claim against their own insurance company.
To make an underinsured motorist claim, the injured person must have purchased underinsured motorist coverage before the date of their injury. This coverage may be purchased from the insurance company that provides your motor vehicle liability coverage. The premium is fairly inexpensive, often it is a fraction of the premium you pay for the coverage that you purchase to protect yourself in the event you cause a crash. But, you must ask your agent about the coverage. Some insurers do not market the coverage.
Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions about underinsured motorist coverage or if you require help in making a claim against the motorist that caused a collision or your insurer.
Clients Win Cases in St. Louis County and before Division of Workers’ Compensation
Matt Casey’s work paid off with great results on several different cases during the past three months.
This past month, Matt tried a motor vehicle collision case to conclusion in Clayton. The jury of St. Louis County residents found in favor of Matt’s client. Matt’s client claimed that she suffered injury to her neck when another motorist ran her car into the rear of the car which Matt’s client was driving. The collision happened after Matt’s client slowed her car to avoid a collision with the driver of another vehicle that had quickly stopped his car to make a turn. The jury awarded a verdict almost three times the last settlement offer made by the insurers prior to trial. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company insured the motorist who rear-ended the car driven by Matt’s client and Economy Premier provided uninsured motorist coverage for the actions of the phantom or unknown motorist.
In mid-March, Matt tried a Workers’ Compensation claim against the Second Injury Fund. In late June, Matt learned that he won the claim on behalf of the injured worker. The worker made a claim against the Fund after successfully resolving his low back claim against his employer. The worker suffered from multiple health issues before being hurt on the job, including an injury to his left elbow that he suffered just months before injuring his back. This claim was the third Matt won against the Second Injury Fund in 2011.
Casey Elected Vice-President of the Lawyers Association and Honored by Supreme Court
Matt Casey was recently elected Vice-president of the Lawyers Association of St. Louis. Matt began his term on June 1.
The Lawyers Association is the association of trial lawyers practicing in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Membership includes plaintiff and defense counsel as well as members of the federal, state and local judiciary.
Members of our firm have long been actively involved in the Lawyers Association. Tom Casey was president of the Lawyers Association in the early 1970s and received the Association’s Award of Honor earlier this year. Matt Devoti was president of the Association in 2009-10.
Also, on April 25, Matt was recognized by the Missouri Supreme Court for his eight years of service on behalf of the attorney discipline system in Missouri. Chief Justice William Ray Price said to Matt:
In January, we told you about a documentary that had been selected for the U.S. Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival – “Hot Coffee”. The movie takes a look at the “McDonald’s Coffee Case,” including what really happened to the woman who spilled coffee on herself and the media attention given the verdict. Importantly, the film also addresses the role of the jury trial in our civil justice system and the modern move to replace the jury with alternative forms to resolve disputes such as mandatory arbitration.
The movie is a must see, especially for those who have brought a suit and sought the protection of our justice system. The movie is now showing on HBO.
For more information, please visit:
Our Contact Information
Do you, a family member or friend need help? Please feel free to contact us at:
We are happy to meet with you for an initial consultation free of charge.
10 South Broadway, Suite 825, St. Louis, MO 63102
Copyright 2009 Casey & Devoti