What to Expect in a Trucking Accident and How Can The Cochran Firm Help?

The trucking industry in the United States is frequently on the rise even though faster and newer means of transportation are being invented every day. Whether locally or cross-country, truck transport is one of the most suitable ways to distribute goods, with about 70 percent of all products reaching their destinations via some sort of truck.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), almost 500,000 crashes involving big trucks were reported to the police in 2018, with over 4,000 fatal and over 100,000 causing injury to persons involved. As most people recognize, driving on the highway is dangerous, especially when 10,000-pound trucks and vehicles add to the mix, inevitably spelling disaster. However, oftentimes crashes with big trucks occur in rural areas and precisely account for more than 50 percent of the totality! One must keep in mind the potential for a crash on both ends of the spectrum—the truck operators and the vehicle operators. Almost any experienced operator can recall an instance on the road when they became nervous while close to a big truck. The critical thing to remember is the basics we all learn in driver’s education class and the undivided attention needed when driving any type of motor vehicle for the safety of ourselves, our passengers, and others on the road.

Big trucks present dangers to themselves and others on the road, but what lies in the cargo of a big truck may increase the threat of injury as well. For example, big trucks carry hazardous materials like harsh chemicals that are highly flammable when exposed to heat. Also, big trucks often haul physically dangerous materials like large wood logs, steel beams, and even large machinery. In the event of an accident, these materials may lead to catastrophic results that truck operators risk each day while on the road. To elaborate, over 50 percent of reported truck afflictions released hazardous and explosive material, with another large chunk of crashes resulting in injuries or towaways. Another factor to consider is the utter weight of a truck in relation to the fundamental laws of physics. For example, standard vehicles on the road traveling at high speeds (over 50 mph) need a certain amount of distance and time to stop completely, even when slamming on the brakes. 

On the other hand, big trucks carry such heavy loads, ranging from 10 to 40 tons, which requires them an even greater distance and time to stop completely. It is physically impossible for a car traveling on the highway to stop on a dime and foolish to assume a big truck can achieve the same. Part of the reason crashes with big trucks cause so much damage lies within the utter amount of force upon impact due to such heavy loads. Big trucks list their most harmful crashes as those which occur with other vehicles on the road. The reason for this may point to negligence on one party to explain how the crash happened in the first place. However, it must be emphasized that the negligence of regular vehicle operators is just as likely to occur as the negligence of a big truck operator. For a big truck operator to do their job, rigorous requirements include testing, both on paper and the road, before one receives their license to drive a big truck.

In any scenario involving a crash, it is crucial to evaluate the people behind the scenes. According to the FMCSA, roughly 5,000 big trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2018, and of those crashes, there were 328 people 25 years or younger and 294 people 66 years or older. This fact proves that most big truck operators involved in fatal crashes were middle-aged; therefore, a lack of life experience or too much life experience, for that matter, is unreliable to use as an explanation for the crashes. One may even conclude that it is more than likely that a middle-aged man possesses more big truck driving experience than most, and certainly more experience on that road than most others on the road. However, experience cannot correct bad habits that some vehicle operators (in cars or big trucks) possess. 

Fatal crashes entail tragic results, and many fatalities on the road result in the operators or passengers not wearing seatbelts. Most of the time, there is no explanation of why one fails to wear a seatbelt other than the fact that they negligently decided or forgot to before traveling onto roads and highways. Other factors explain crashes on the road, such as operator impairment either through drugs or alcohol. As most are already informed, driving under the influence is one of the most dangerous acts one can participate in, period. Many studies confirm that impairment of any kind slows the operator’s reflexes and prevents them from correcting or adjusting for quick scenarios on the road that occur almost regularly. Even operators that lack sleep but continue driving pose a risk for others on the road around them. Unfortunately, this usually applies to truck operators due to their high volumes of workloads and shift lengths. The big truck driving industry revolves around the truck company’s ability to deliver its goods in a timely manner. This puts big truck drivers in danger by training them to function on small amounts of sleep and large amounts of driving. However, in recent times, regulations have emerged for truck companies to limit their operators’ hours and hopefully reduce the number of people on the road with little to no sleep. For example, hour limits per day exist, and the federal government prevents big truck operators from driving more than 14 hours in a single day after a 10-hour break. Weekly driving time regulations are in place, as well as required 30-minute driving breaks. 

Conditions on the roads themselves add to the difficulties of driving any form of vehicle. As big trucks cross states regularly and sometimes the country, the number of driving conditions they experience increases drastically. Throughout the year, driving conditions decline for those on the road depending on their geographical location. For example, one may assume driving in the summer is easier; however, in places like the South, the summer is storm season, triggering large gusts of wind and heavy rainfall for hours on end. In areas further North, snow and ice play a considerable role in causing vehicle crashes of all sorts during the fall and winter months, especially for big trucks that fall victim to lack of brake control due to their already heavy loads. Even in the Spring, there are forms of big truck driving that occur on frozen roads, and the melting of these roads kills many big truck operators yearly. Vehicle operators must keep in mind quick tips to keep them informed about the roads that they travel. For example, a road becomes more slippery when rainfall first falls than during the rainfall itself. Also, a tire loses grip on roads that just recently received rainfall that has subsided. 

Regulations for big truck operators stand as the greatest chance to protect both their operators and others on the road. The weight of a big truck stands as one of the most important factors to monitor regularly. One of the techniques that regulators use is weigh-stations, used as exits on the side of interstate travel. While on the interstate, big trucks may receive a notification over the radio to pull into the next nearest weigh station to be checked out by state regulators based on the size of their load. Frequently, big truck companies overload their big trucks to decrease the number of trips overall or save money. However, these heavier loads place more significant pressure on the big truck’s tires and create a more substantial risk than reward. In a staggering study, it was observed that big trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds were involved in a 330 percent increase of crashes that occurred on the road. One can only imagine the damage of a 10,000-pound vehicle falling over or colliding with another moving or immobile object. If a big truck pulls into a weigh station and fails to fall within compliance weight, they may be ticketed or lose a part of their load before being allowed to travel back onto the interstate safely. Weigh stations are essential measures taken by each state to protect their operators and those behind the wheel of big trucks. 

Of course, it is vital to remember that regular vehicles on the road pose the same risks to truck operators when driving under the influence or without proper sleep. In addition, reckless forms of driving contribute to large portions of crashes as well. Speeding by regular vehicle operators or truck operators remains the number one explanation behind why these collisions occur, in front of the second most common reason, distracted driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving has evolved over the last 20 years due to the advancement of technology in our everyday lives. Things like smartphones and tablets loaded with games and social media are consuming the lives of many Americans due to the high volumes of intriguing information in one place. It is just as likely, to see a driver distracted by viewing social media while operating a vehicle than just texting or talking on the phone alone. The excellent news about technological advancement is that it occurs in all categories as we continue to progress. For example, new developments in cars and trucks exist to discourage vehicle operators from operating while distracted by their phones. Apps and newly created phone settings disable phone notifications from occurring while operators are on the road. Overall, the driving world contains an unlimited amount of distractions; still, it remains the responsibility of both the car and truck operators to refrain from participating in these dangerous activities simultaneously.  

Unfortunately, trucking accidents occur daily, and it remains our job to keep you informed on the factors that play a part in these tragic events. The more informed you are, the better you can plan to act or react to a potentially life-changing event near you. Although they are common, trucking afflictions should not be seen as usual. It is up to us to practice driving as safely as possible for the sake of our own health and the health of those around us. If you find yourself or someone you care about amid a trucking accident, we may be able to help. Trucking accidents may stand tall due to their consequences, but we vow to stand taller to get you the knowledge and support you need. Here at the Cochran Firm, we stand to represent both the standard vehicle operators AND the big truck operators because ALL lives are valued the same.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm 

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love pursuing a truck accident claim. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. 

You need the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States. Please contact the wrongful death attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.

Self-financed plaintiff law firms nationwide are considering case cost financing to compete in a post-pandemic world

Having the flexibility to choose the case costs that should be financed potentially improves settlements and verdicts, thereby increasing revenue and cash flow. At Esquire Bank, we take relationship banking to a new level with a like-minded business perspective and game-changing technology that fuels your success. 

Law firms nationwide are financing their case costs and passing on the cost of financing to their clients, ultimately improving settlements and verdicts for their firm.

Having the financial flexibility to choose where to deploy funds for case investment is key for growth and expansion.

Self-financed law firms that decide to utilize case cost financing often elect to pass on the cost of financing to their clients. Before this strategy is implemented, law firms need to:

• Check their state’s ethics opinion pertaining to the treatment of case cost financing and passing on the cost of financing

If you would like to check the ethics opinion for your state, click here.

• Change their retainer agreements to include wording that allows the law firm to pass on the cost of financing

If you would like to receive a sample retainer agreement and discuss the benefits of case cost financing with a senior relationship manager, click here.

Esquire Bank can help you have the flexibility to choose the case costs you wish to finance, improve your law firm’s liquidity, utilize your firm’s case inventory as collateral, and have the option/ability to pass on the cost of financing to your clients.

I look forward to working with you.

Sincerely, 

Ari Kornhaber, Esq.

Founder, Executive Vice President

& Head of Corporate Development

Reopening the Vault at the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0

On June 2 – 4, 2021, The National Trial Lawyers will present the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0, hosted at the Marriott Marquis Houston in Houston, Texas. This conference, exclusively for plaintiff lawyers, will offer an intensive two-day trial academy led by accomplished trial attorney Mark Lanier. The Lanier Trial Academy will offer pre-conference networking events as well as extensive educational modules focusing on the “Why’s” and “How’s” of what it takes to perfect your practice and be a successful trial attorney.

With only 16 days until this year’s event, The National Trial Lawyers and Lanier Law Firm continue to work diligently to ensure that all attendees can network and learn in a fun and safe environment at this year’s Lanier Trial Academy.

To kick off the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0, the 5th Annual Lanier Golf Scramble, sponsored by Velawcity, will be held Wednesday at noon. This is a scramble-style golf tournament at the Royal Oaks Club in Houston, TX, where attendees can enjoy an afternoon of friendly competition while networking with fellow plaintiff lawyers from across the country.*Shuttle transportation from the Marriott Marquis Houston will be provided.

Attendees of the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 4.0 register for the 4th Annual Golf Scramble at The Woodlands in Houston, TX.

Also, on Wednesday at 2:00 PM, attendees will have the opportunity to mingle and explore the 17,000 sq. ft. research library opened by Mark Lanier in October 2010, during the Lanier Theological Library Tour and Lemonade Social, sponsored by Prevail. 

*Shuttle transportation from the Marriott Marquis Houston will be provided.
To end Wednesday’s pre-conference events, Lanier Trial Academy attendees will have the opportunity to safely socialize and enjoy cocktails while connecting with other accomplished and motivated attorneys at the Welcome Reception, sponsored by Broughton Partners at 7:00 PM.

Attendees learn from Mark Lanier during one of his educational sessions at the Lanier Trial Academy 4.0.

On Thursday and Friday, Mark Lanier will share his experience that has resulted in almost 20 billion dollars in trial results during The “Why” Module and The “How” Modules. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn new trial techniques, strategies and secrets, like non-verbal cues, time management, and how to identify liars. 

The “Why” Module will be on Thursday from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM, focusing on Communication Theory for Trial Work, The Psychology of Persuasion, and the Visual Aspects of Learning

The “How” Modules will be split into three parts:

  • Part 1: Thursday, 1:30 – 5:30 PM – ‘How to get ready for trial,’ ‘How to prepare demonstratives,’ ‘How to execute Voir Dire,’ and ‘How to work through short and long trials.’
  • Part 2: Friday, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM – ‘How to conduct the best directs,’ ‘How to execute the killer cross,’ and ‘How to prepare your depositions for trial.
  • Part 3: Friday, 1:30 – 5:00 PM – ‘How to give the winning closing argument,’ ‘How to argue for punities,” and will end with a Q&A session that will cover all issues and any more that arise.
The Space Center Houston in Houston, TX.

Have some extra time while in Houston, TX, for the Lanier Trial Academy? Located in Space City, approximately 25 miles away from our downtown hotel, the Space Center Houston is a must-see if you visit Houston. Explore attractions and exhibits at this top visitor attraction.

Do you love art? Take in a day of fine arts at the Houston Theatre District. You’ll find venues like Hobby Center for Performing Arts, Alley Theatre, Jones Hall and Wortham Theater Center, all within walking distance. 

If you love exotic animals, The Houston Zoo is the place for you. Visit this amazing Zoological Park, with over 900 species that connect communities with animals.

Spectators watch two elephants play in the water at The McNail Elephant Habitat Area located in the Houston Zoo in Houston, TX.

If you are committed to strengthening your legal processes and perfecting your practice, then you are going to want to register today for the Lanier Trial Academy. For complete details on each event and session offered at the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0, please view our full agenda.

A Truck Accident Checklist: What to Do if You Have Been Injured in an Accident

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), more than 500,000 trucking accidents happen in the United States every year, with approximately 5,000 per year resulting in death. 

Large trucks are specified as trucks weighing an excess of 10,000 pounds and are controlled by the FMCSA, which was developed in 2000. The FMSCA was made to manage compliance with the commercial driver’s license standards for drivers and carriers, consisting of but not limited to, the Hours of Service Regulations (HOS), which sets limits on the number of hours a truck operator can drive this risky equipment.

Truck operators, owners, and manufacturers are required to follow a vast variety of state and federal guidelines. Along with the HOS, the FMSCA’s policies are comprised of how much weight a rig is authorized to haul and quality control in manufacturing and repair. In an occurrence where the plaintiff is not at fault, the possibility that the defendant violated a statute or ordinance is very probable. This is essential when it comes to the settlement since verification that a violation of a statute or other ordinance has occurred, increases the odds the victim has in winning their case at trial.

In order to understand what to anticipate following a trucking accident, it is necessary to establish the reason for the accident, the kind of accident that took place, injuries suffered in the accident, and who the responsible party for the accident is. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common causes, types, injuries, and responsible parties.

Common Causes of Trucking Accidents

Trucking accidents are especially scary because the chance that the result of the accident is death or drastic injury is more likely than a crash between two automobiles. Many accidents are preventable, however, a lot of the time are the result of driver error. Some common causes of truck accidents include:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Speeding and overtaking
  • Poor training and maintenance
  • Improper cargo loading

A familiar theme between all of the accidents noted above is that the main cause in all truck accidents is human error. Even though each accident has a different designation or name, the one variable that never changes is the person who is operating the truck. Negligence to follow rules of the road, carelessness to inspect the vehicle prior to being driven, and negligence to listen to one’s body are all directly correlated to human error.

Common Types of Truck Accidents

It is important to remember that the composition of a truck is not the only determining part of what a “big truck” is. Just because it might not look like a standard 18-wheeler most civilians are used to seeing, does not imply that it is not classified as a big truck. The FMSCA classifies large trucks as trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs. When an automobile that weighs an excess amount becomes out of control, it is anticipated to cause catastrophic damages. By understanding the types of truck accidents and how they happen, drivers can make predictions of what may happen and possibly escape a horrific accident. Here are a few of the most common types of big truck accidents and how they happen:

  • Jackknife Accidents– one of the most typical kinds of truck accidents, which occur when a truck tries to make a sudden and violent stop
  • Rollover– much like the name, this happens when an operator attempts to overcorrect– either when making an instant stop or attempting to recover after a tire falls off
  • Tire Blowouts– these are the most preventable accidents (and are solely dependant on the negligence of the operator and truck inspectors) and happen due to the abrupt and explosive bursting of a tire wall from extreme heat and wear
  • Underride Accidents– typically happen due to a motorist following too carefully to a big truck or poor visibility
  • Override Accidents– occur when a truck operator is following a car too closely and has to make a sudden stop, there is bad visibility from rain or fog, the truck driver neglected to yield a right of way, an operator changes lanes negligently, brake failure, and a tire blowout
  • Fatigue– this is the most common cause of driver error and frequently takes place due to the fact that trucking companies motivate their motorists to desert safety policies and sleep to finish deliveries quicker

There is a vast selection of types of truck accidents, and knowing the signs of an accident that is about to take place can be the determining factor between life and death in most instances.

Common Truck Accident Injuries

Because of the large size of trucks, truck accidents can be far more disastrous than normal automobile accidents. Almost nothing stands a chance of being unharmed when colliding with a large truck, due to its huge size and weight. Some typical truck accident injuries consist of:

Who is Responsible for the Injuries Sustained?

Trucking accidents become much more difficult than a typical auto accident case due to the fact that they have different laws, rules, and regulations that pertain to safely operating a truck, 18-wheeler, and commercial vehicle. They also become more complex because the common primary responsible party is the trucking company that employs the truck driver. Determining who is at fault is an essential part of any claim including a big truck. In order to do that, the accident must be completely determined. Oftentimes, trucking accidents involve several responsible parties, including but not limited to:

  • Truck operator
  • Trucking company
  • Cargo companies
  • Equipment manufacturers
  • Other irresponsible drivers
  • Government organizations
  • Faulty or harmful roads

What Should I Do If I’ve Suffered From a Trucking Accident?

When you have been involved in a truck accident, the actions that follow are essential. What occurs in the following minutes, hours, or days after an accident can notably affect the outcome of a plaintiff’s truck accident claim. It is very important that no matter how insignificant the accident might have been, to not leave the scene of the accident. There are many things that need to occur before anyone associated with the trucking accident can vacate the scene. Here are some steps that are crucial to follow after a truck accident:

Assess Injuries

The first and most crucial thing to do after a truck accident is to determine whether anyone is injured. If someone has been injured, they need to seek instantaneous medical attention, so 9-1-1 needs to be called as soon as possible. Whoever is injured should not move or be moved unless there is an experienced first responder present or the hurt person is in imminent danger if they are not moved. It is essential, if possible, to leave everything as is until a first responder arrives on the scene.

Move to Safety

After the extent of injuries is determined, it is imperative to get everyone to relocate to safety. Again, it is very important to not move anybody that is hurt unless trained to do so. However, in many states, it is required by law to move any drivable vehicles away from traffic. Find an area, like the shoulder of the road, to safely move any vehicle involved in the accident out of the way of harm.

Contact the Police

As soon as everyone is moved to safety, it is critical to call authorities. When authorities arrive on the scene, the victim must give them a full, factual statement of the accident. It is incredibly important that nothing is hidden when providing this statement; nevertheless, the victim should not expose their feelings, viewpoints, and explanations of what other motorists were doing at the time of the accident— as this will likely lead to problems.

Exchange Information

Every driver involved in the truck accident needs to exchange information with all other parties involved in the accident. It is important that insurance information and driver’s license details are likewise exchanged. Automobile drivers in the accident should always get information from the driver of the truck on the tractor, trailer, and cargo. The owner of the truck may have contributed to the cause of the accident, so it is crucial to find out if each item explained above is insured.

Document the Accident Scene

Prior to leaving the scene, it is vital to get photographs of all automobiles and trucks associated with the accident. Damage to all vehicles, guardrails, embankments, and other items that may have been struck needs to be documented. Any fitting sightlines, skid marks, and state of tires on the truck itself must also be photographed. These photos will be used as evidence in a truck accident case. The more evidence a victim preserves, the easier it will be to prove a victim’s claims.

Refrain from Speaking with Insurance Companies/Trucking Company Representatives

Insurance companies and trucking company representatives are oftentimes more concerned with their profits than assisting a victim of an injury. They usually have self-serving tactics and quickly move to the victim to propose a settlement, in order to conserve money by avoiding paying the full amount that is due. It is not abnormal for a representative to be on the scene very quickly since it is their job to get to the victim first. However, after the victim has given their official statement to the police, they are not required to share any further information with anyone else at the scene.

Seek Medical Attention

Even if a victim believes they have not been hurt in a truck accident, it remains essential to make an appointment with a medical professional. A truck accident can put a person’s body at risk of astonishing forces that can trigger many different types of injuries. More times than not, injuries suffered in a truck accident are obvious; however, it is possible that other injuries might take an extended amount of time to reveal themselves. Seeking medical attention can aid in recognizing injuries at an early stage, which can help treatment and the seriousness of injuries later down the road. It is essential to go to all appointments and follow any treatment that a medical professional puts in place. If a victim fails to do so, it can result in a trucking company revealing that there were missed visits and treatments, leading to a reduced settlement.

Contact an Accident Attorney 

When experiencing any kind of injury from a truck accident, the economic losses a victim will face are inevitable. Contacting an experienced accident attorney can help a victim in countless ways. The difficulty of managing a truck accident can be frightening, however with the help of an attorney, and the resources they have, navigating the legal process can become way less intimidating.

An experienced auto and trucking accident attorney will do everything they can to make sure the settlement offer shows the accurate cost of one’s injuries. Depending on the injuries that have occurred, an attorney might be able to retrieve compensation for lost wages, decreased future earnings, current and expected medical bills, lower quality of life, and pain and suffering.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm

The Cochran Firm has been recognized nationally as the Truck Accident Law Firm of The Year 2020-2021 by the Trial Lawyer Magazine and The National Trial Lawyers, having obtained over $100 million of verdicts and settlements in truck cases that year alone. Our results in trucking accident cases are among the best of any firm in the country.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in a trucking accident, you need a dedicated attorney by your side. The experienced auto and truck accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm have a proven record of helping victims of injury get maximum repayment. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our attorneys are prepared to help victims of trucking accidents who are at the mercy of self-serving insurance companies. Our lawyers work with a network of accident reconstruction experts to thoroughly investigate trucking accidents and identify all contributing factors. We use this information to build solid, evidence-based cases that greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.

When suffering from a trucking accident, you deserve to have an attorney who is going to fight for you. With our legal team by your side, you will be protected against the self-serving tactics of insurance companies and are much more likely to receive the full compensation you deserve. 
To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation please contact our experienced auto and trucking accident attorneys with offices nationwide.

Sessions at the 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit

On May 4 – 7, 2021, The National Trial Lawyers will present the 10th annual Trial Lawyers Summit, hosted at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami, FL. This conference will provide attorneys, paralegals, students, and firm administrators with outstanding educational opportunities and the chance to grow their vast legal network.

The Trial Lawyers Summit is packed full of informative sessions, compelling speakers, and networking events that help attorneys perfect their practice while reconnecting with new and fellow trial lawyers. The National Trial Lawyers has worked diligently to create a fun and safe environment for this year’s Trial Lawyers Summit so that the trial community can be together again.

Attendees at the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit enjoying one of the many informative sessions offered at the conference.

To kick-off the Trial Lawyers Summit, there will be a Trucking & Automobile session on Tuesday, focusing on juror perceptions, common mistakes for plaintiffs to avoid, and the use of examples and analogies in summation. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn the latest changes in trucking and automobile litigation from speakers like Brent Goudarzi, Diane Marger Moore, Shean Williams, John Givens, and many more.

Following the Trucking & Automobile session, the NTL Digital Marketing Master Class will help attorneys discover the latest digital marketing trends to take their business to the next level.

We will wrap up the first night with the much anticipated Summit Kickoff Party, sponsored by Broughton Partners. Unwind after a day of informative sessions with live entertainment and cocktails. This party will include an evening with Ghaleb and a pair of vibrant flamenco dancers, along with an excellent opportunity to mingle with some of America’s most distinguished attorneys.

Musician Ghaleb and a pair of vibrant flamenco dancers perform during the Summit Kickoff Party at the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit.

Wednesday and Thursday morning will begin with the session Courtroom Playbook: Trial Skills, sponsored by Consumer Attorney Marketing Group. Be sure to join us as we will dive deep into the fundamentals of creating and growing a practice, featuring speakers like Lisa Blue, Mark Lanier, John Romano, and more.

Following Wednesday’s Courtroom Playbook session, the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame Awards Luncheon, sponsored by US Claims, will be held featuring keynote speaker Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon, Emmy award-winning medical reporter, and writer.

Later in the afternoon, there will be the first installment of the Business of Law session, where you will have the opportunity to learn from some of the industry’s biggest law firms about business principles and what it takes to build a successful company. The second part of the Business of Law series will take place on Thursday afternoon, focusing on general ideas and practices of case acquisition, and running law firms by utilizing the latest technology.

After the in-depth sessions on trial skills and building a lucrative law firm, Trial Lawyers Summit attendees and their guests are welcome to enjoy a lively night of entertainment featuring the band The Ice Breakers at the President’s Reception, sponsored by Velawcity.

Attendees of the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit enjoy a fun evening of entertainment at the President’s Reception.

We will be wrapping up the Trial Lawyers Summit with the Traumatic Brain Injury session with featured speakers Elizabeth Zwibel, Jeff Mitchell, Karen Evans, and Stephen Smith. This session will cover how to try a TBI case from intake to verdict, including strategies for:

  • Avoiding defense traps.
  • Cross-examination of experts.
  • Jury persuasion.
  • Meaningful settlements.
  • Winning your case at trial.

Though we do not know what requirements will be in place on May 4, 2021, we anticipate certain precautions during the 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit. Please view our anticipated COVID-19 safety guidelines.

For the first time, we are offering a special combination offer to attend both the Lanier Trial Academy and the Trial Lawyers Summit for an exclusive discounted price. After you take advantage of everything the Trial Lawyers Summit has to offer, you can join us for the Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0 held June 2 – 4, 2021, in Houston, Texas. The Lanier Trial Academy will be featuring the 5th Annual Golf Scramble, Theological Library Tour, and brand-new material like how we use technology and how it will change the next time we try a case.
If you are interested in attending both events in Houston and Miami, you can save $640 by registering now at an NTL member-exclusive price of only $1,750!

If you are interested in attending both events, but you are not an NTL member, you can still save $890 by registering now for $2,000!

Special thank you to our event sponsors. Our 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit Partners are Counsel Financial, The Sentinel Group, and Digital Law Marketing. The Lanier Trial Academy Master Class 5.0 Big As Texas Partners are Consumer Attorney Marketing Group, Archer, and Trusted Legal Partners.

Networking at the 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit

On May 4 – 7, 2021, The National Trial Lawyers will present the 10th annual Trial Lawyers Summit, hosted at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida. This conference is a unique gathering of America’s top civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers. Offering various networking opportunities and informative sessions, the Trial Lawyers Summit provides attorneys with the chance to improve their trial skills and business management. This conference is consistently packed with compelling speakers, valuable conversations, and exclusive social functions.

Attorneys, paralegals, students, and firm administrators from all over participate in our unique, family-friendly conference each year to experience the most relevant legal sessions and engaging networking events.

Each day is packed with networking opportunities where attendees can reconnect with new and fellow trial lawyers while learning the latest post-COVID practices. The National Trial Lawyers has worked diligently to create a fun and safe environment for this year’s Trial Lawyers Summit so that the trial community can be together again.

Alexander Shunnarah and Sara Williams, members of The National Trial Lawyers, networking at the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit.

New to the Trial Lawyers Summit? Don’t miss out on the chance to expand your network at our Tuesday evening First Time Attendees Happy Hour, sponsored by Persist Group. This is the perfect event for new attendees to meet trial lawyers from across the country over some delicious cocktails.

First-time attendees can receive an exclusive discount of $200 off their registration. Contact The National Trial Lawyers to receive your discount or visit our website for more details.

Jump-starting an event as lively as the Trial Lawyers Summit calls for entertainment. The Summit Kickoff Party will bring the first night to a close, with dozens of attendees safely celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Trial Lawyers Summit under the stars. Sponsored by Broughton Partners, this party will feature exceptional music and an excellent opportunity to mingle with some of America’s most distinguished attorneys.

Attendees of the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit enjoyed beautiful guitar skills, played by musician Ghaleb, and a pair of vibrantly entertaining flamenco dancers during the Summit Kickoff Party.

Wednesday is for the ladies! The Women’s Leadership Forum & Cocktails, sponsored by CARDINAL LifeCare Consulting, focuses on inspiring leadership among women, providing tools for stepping into powerful roles with authenticity, and creating a network of women working to innovate and impact the profession. With topics such as sincerity and women’s influence in the legal field, this social forum will surely radiate inspiration to those in attendance.

Following the Women’s Leadership Forum & Cocktails, attendees are welcomed to end their night at the Mix & Mingle. Sponsored by Prevail, this networking opportunity is ideal for building on new connections established on Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Ashley Peinhardt, a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, socializing at the Women’s Leadership Forum & Cocktails during the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit.

Thursday is packed with various networking events for attendees to develop professional and social contacts. Our Networking Lunch, sponsored by Consumer Attorney Marketing, is a perfect start to that development. Attendees can help themselves to a grab-and-go lunch and find a spot in the Exhibit Hall to build new relations safely.

Carlos Moore, Jacques Cooper Esq., and J. Wyndal Gordon, members of The National Black Lawyers, enjoy drinks and fellowship at The National Black Lawyers Cocktail Reception during the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit.

Young attorneys and members of The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 attending the Trial Lawyers Summit will also have the chance to safely socialize and have a drink with other motivated, budding attorneys at the Young Lawyers Happy Hour, sponsored by Stratejic Relationships.

To harmoniously end Thursday’s events, Trial Lawyers Summit attendees and their guests will revel in a lively night of entertainment at the President’s Reception, sponsored by Velawcity.

An attendee of the 2020 Trial Lawyers Summit enjoys a night full of dancing and live music by Kool & The Gang at the President’s Reception.

If you are determined to enhance your legal processes and perfect your practice, registering for the Trial Lawyers Summit is the first step. Register today to join the trial community in safely celebrating our 10th Anniversary. For complete details on each event and session offered at the Trial Lawyers Summit, please view our full agenda.

Though we do not know what requirements will be in place on May 4, 2021, we anticipate certain precautions during the 2021 Trial Lawyers Summit. Please view our anticipated COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The Top 10 Different Types of Lawyers You Might Need

Throughout one’s life from buying their first house, to planning for retirement and everything in-between, they will likely interact with quite a few different categories of lawyers. 10 key categories of attorneys can encompass almost all of the types of legal roadblocks or issues an individual may encounter in their lifetime. 


  1. Personal Injury Lawyer
  2. Criminal Defense Lawyer
  3. Social Security Disability Lawyer
  4. Employment Lawyer
  5. Bankruptcy Lawyer
  6. Domestic Relations Lawyer
  7. Probate Lawyer
  8. Real Estate Lawyer
  9. Debt Collections Lawyer
  10. Business Lawyer

Personal Injury Lawyer

A personal injury lawyer is a civil litigator who provides legal representation to plaintiffs who have experienced an injury as a result of the negligent or intentional acts of another individual, organization, or entity. Personal injury lawyers specialize in tort law which covers civil wrongs or injuries. The main goal of tort law is to make the injured party whole again and to deter other individuals from repeating the same offense.

Personal injury lawyers help plaintiffs receive compensation for their losses such as loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, medical expenses, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and legal costs and fees. Personal injury lawyers also function to protect clients from becoming victims of the legal system as a whole. Personal injury law can involve anything from car accidents to dangerous drugs. The personal injury attorneys handle cases from inception to appeal. 

Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense lawyer fulfills a number of important roles during the course of a criminal case. The criminal defense lawyer is responsible for defending an individual charged with a crime and speaks on that individual’s account. A criminal defense attorney may be contacted directly by the defendant or may be assigned the case by the court. Many criminal defense attorneys are actually public defenders who are paid by the public defender’s office. Many public defenders are appointed cases by the local, state, or federal court. Other criminal defense attorneys are fired by private firms or have their own legal office.

         A criminal defense attorney is firstly assigned to their client and case. Next, the criminal defense attorney interviews the client to learn the strengths and witnesses of their defense. The attorney will then further investigate the case background and analyze pertinent evidence. The lawyer will assist with the jury selection process and then plea bargaining before the trial ever begins. The criminal defense lawyer advocates at trial for their client to convince the jury that the prosecution failed to meet their burden of proof. Finally, the criminal defense attorney can represent the defendant during the sentencing phase if this occurs to limit the defendant’s jail time or offer alternatives to incarceration. 

Social Security Disability Lawyer

After an individual is wrongly denied disability benefits, they may decide to hire a social security disability lawyer. This attorney will help an individual appeal the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s decision. The lawyer will look at the details of the case to determine how the individual was denied. A disability attorney can be retained at any point during the claims process, even before the claim is filed. Most claims are denied during the initial review, and at that point, a lawyer is usually retained to file a request for reconsideration.

A disability lawyer understands how to address the deficiencies in the claim and provides additional details for DDS to review the amended claim during the reconsideration phase. The lawyer will look at what evidence the claim is lacking to be able to gather the missing links to get the claim back on track.

Employment Lawyer

Employment lawyers provide a variety of services to employers and employees, from helping them understand their legal rights, to helping them fight for these rights and recover from injuries received within the context of the workplace. For an employer, a lawyer can assist them in complying with federal and state anti-discrimination laws. The employment attorney may also help employers learn about their obligations in complying with OSHA guidelines and environmental regulations. This type of law may also involve worker’s compensation claims.

Employment law often involves representing clients who have been discriminated against in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. Therefore, employment lawyers often represent the employees who may have been terminated demoted, reassigned, not hired, or otherwise the recipient of an adverse employment action based on a protected status under the Act.

Bankruptcy Lawyer

A bankruptcy lawyer can assist with the complexities of a bankruptcy proceeding, from before an individual files until the time debts are discharged. The attorney can help guide an individual through the complex decisions, paperwork, and procedures of bankruptcy. At the outset of the bankruptcy procedure, the attorney can counsel an individual if bankruptcy is the right decision. The attorney will take a critical look at debts and assets and determine if bankruptcy is the correct path to improve your circumstances.

         A big part of a bankruptcy lawyer’s job assisting a client can be comparing the chapter 7 and chapter 13 options. This critical decision is to determine by assessing the size and makeup of debt. The assets the client is willing to risk in a bankruptcy, and the ability to repay debts or a portion of debts, among a number of other considerations. Once the client and attorney determine the client’s filing plan, an attorney can help the client make key planning decisions. Attorneys can help the client consider aspects of the bankruptcy such as whether to file jointly with a spouse or co-sign on any loans that fall under the bankruptcy filing. 

Domestic Relations Lawyer

Domestic relation is a field of family law that governs relations within a family or household. These attorneys can protect their clients through many different family law issues. One of the most common issues domestic relations attorneys deal with is divorce. The domestic relations lawyer protects their clients along the way and introduces them to every step of the divorce process. Within the divorce process, there can be child custody issues as well. This can be a difficult task, and it is rare parents agree on these issues. As well as divorce and child custody, the domestic relations courts hear cases involving alimony, domestic abuse, and child support.

While most family law practices deal with issues of divorce such as division of marital property, child custody and support, and alimony, family lawyers also draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and litigate all related matters. Domestic relations lawyers have a wide range of legal skills they must perform from drafting and negotiating contracts, pleadings and other legal documents, litigating contested matters, counseling clients on their legal rights and options, and attempting to resolve disputes. Moreso, domestic relations lawyers must have the interpersonal communication skills to diffuse potentially emotional situations with clients and their spouses.

Probate Lawyer

Probate lawyers are also called estate or trust lawyers. These lawyers help the executors of the estate to manage the probate process. These attorneys may also help with estate planning. Estate planning can involve drafting wills or living trusts, giving advice on powers of attorney, or even serve as an executor or administer of an estate. The work of a probate lawyer often depends on whether the client has drafted a will before their death. When there is a will the lawyer will assist the clients to advise the parties on legal matters that accompany the beneficiaries of the estate. When there is no will, the lawyer may be hired to assist the administrator of the estate in determining how assets will be distributed according to state intestacy law.

         A probate attorney may perform certain tasks. These include collecting and managing life insurance proceeds, getting the decedent’s property appraised as well as finding and securing all of the decedent’s assets. The lawyer may also advise on how to pay the decedent’s bills and settle debt, prepare or file documents as required by a probate court, managing the estate’s checkbook, and determining whether any estate taxes are owed. 

Real Estate Lawyer

Real estate lawyers are able to guide individuals through the complex legal process of buying a home. This category of lawyers specializes in matters relevant to property. This overarching category can involve anything from transactions like buying and selling a home to dealing with property disputes between parties. A real estate attorney prepares or reviews documents that are signed at the closing of a real estate purchase. Real estate lawyers deal with the purchase and sale of real property as well as legal issues related to anything attached to the property. Real estate law covers deeds, property taxes, estate planning, zoning, and titles. 

Real estate attorneys must also be equipped to prepare and review documents relating to purchase agreements, mortgage documents, title documents, and transfer documents.

The lawyers who specialize in real estate ensure proper procedures are followed during the acquisition or sale of real estate property. A real estate closing is when money is paid for the real estate property and the title is transferred from the old owner to the new owner. The real estate attorney ensures that the transfer is legal, binding, and in the best interest of the client. To prepare for the closing, the real estate attorney may create documents, complete title searches, and handle the transfer of funds for the purchase. Problems with the chain of titles such as liens on the property, lot line problems, or contract issues will all be handled by the real estate attorney. 

Debt Collections Lawyer

When an individual is in debt, and certain events occur such as creditors calling your home and work, and threats of lawsuits from these creditors, an individual may be in need of a debt collection attorney. Other factors that could lead to your need for a debt collection attorney are being treated unfairly by creditors or an inability to pay back loans at the present time. To determine your best course of action to get your money back when a debtor is not paying up, a debt collection attorney may be the right solution.

A debt collection lawyer can mean different things to a creditor and a debtor. For a creditor, an attorney can help to put a plan in place to gain back the money you loaned out to a debtor. For a debtor, while they face the same outcomes, the attorney can help negotiate the debt down. In the end, the debt collection lawyer can be the best solution to avoid being taken advantage of on either side of the transaction. 

Business Lawyer

Business lawyers help keep companies running and growing by overseeing their legal business. Business la covers a wide range of legal areas and applied to many different types of business activity. The legal issues a business lawyer may face usually involve corporate law, partnership law, banking law, sales law, securities law, or some combination of these. The business lawyer comes in where the business and legal universe intersects.

Business lawyers anticipate problems that could arise for their clients and guide them to help avoid these issues. The business lawyer is required to not only understand the law, but also the focus of their client’s business goals. Sometimes business lawyers work in-house for the legal department of a company. This specific kind of work can involve the interpretation of laws and regulations as well as communicating advice to the company. The business lawyer’s time will most often be spent on negotiation, legal analysis, contract drafting, advising, and writing. 

The Cochran Firm

Our founder, the legendary Johnnie Cochran, believed that all Americans should have access to justice. Today, we continue his legacy by offering quality legal representation across the country.

We have injury attorneys for those who have suffered major accidents. But we also offer criminal defense services, because we understand that when you’re faced with a life-altering accusation, you need the best help you can get.

Whether you need an injury lawyer or an attorney experienced in one of these areas, we can help. We have more than 20 offices across the country.

Whatever your reason for needing a lawyer, we’re happy to talk with you about your claim. We offer free, no-obligation initial consultations so we can discuss your case, evaluate whether you have a claim, and explain the legal process.

If you need an experienced injury lawyer or an attorney with particular expertise in a unique area, we’re here for you. Please contact The Cochran Firm today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

Resources:

Investopedia

FindLaw

New England Law

HG

Legal Information Institute

Balance Careers

Disability Benefits Center

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual Harassment Defined:

Legally, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the late 1980s, the Supreme Court interpreted this Act to include discrimination based on “sex” as sexual harassment in the workplace. It is now unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Sexual harassment can be defined as unwelcome sexual advances occurring in the workplace. Harassment can include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. The key to this behavior is unwelcome or unwanted conduct. Sexual conduct that is unwelcome or unwanted can rise to the level of sexual harassment. 

While the federal laws generally cover employers with 15 or more employees, your state may have better laws that cover smaller employers with fewer employees. Title VII is designed to make employers accountable for providing a work environment free from harassment and other kinds of discrimination. It makes it illegal for employers to allow harassment to occur or to fail to stop it once they know it is happening. 

There are two key types of sexual harassment claims. 

1) Quid Pro Quo (Tangible) Sexual Harassment:

This type of sexual harassment occurs when employment decisions are based on an employee’s willingness to submit to sexual harassment. This action usually occurs when sexual harassment is received from someone who makes or highly influences employment decisions such as a boss or supervisor. This could also be when a person with apparent authority to confer or withhold employment benefits demands sexual favors from an employee in return for continued employment. This conduct could involve assignments, promotions, or keeping a job contingent upon the submission to sexual advances. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct of a sexual nature is quid pro quo sexual harassment when submission to such sexual conduct is either explicitly, or implicitly a term or condition of employment or the submission or rejection of the sexual conduct is the basis for employment decisions. 

2) Hostile Work Environment Claims: 

This type of sexual harassment claim occurs when the sexual harassment makes an individual’s workplace environment intimidating, hostile, or offensive. This harassment can occur when an employee is subject to unwelcome sexually offensive conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter employment conditions and creates an abusive or hostile work environment. This type of sexual harassment from co-workers, supervisors, customers, vendors, or anyone who the victim comes into contact with during his or her workday. With this type of sexual harassment, the court will consider many factors to determine if the environment was hostile. These factors include: Whether the conduct was verbal, physical, or both, how frequently the conduct was repeated, whether the conduct was hostile or patently offensive, the severity of said conduct, whether the alleged harasser was a co-worker or a supervisor, whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance, and whether others joined in perpetrating the harassment, and whether the harassment was directed at more than one individual. 

Behavior 

Workplace sexual harassment can take many forms. Among many things, this could be requesting sexual favors or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment in a negative way. These actions could be in the form of unwanted touching, inappropriate comments or jokes, or someone promising you a promotion in exchange for sexual favors, among other things. These acts can rise to the level of sexual harassment when they unreasonably interfere with an individual’s work performance or create a hostile or offensive work environment. Something to note is that it matters what the person who is being harassed thinks, not what the harasser thinks. Therefore, this is a subjective standard. It is still harassment if the behavior is something you do not want or find offensive, even if the person who is doing the harassing believes it is OK, harmless, not sexual, or welcomed. Therefore, even if you do not immediately relate to the person that their words or actions were inappropriate, or tell them to stop, their actions are still harassment

Sexual harassment does not necessarily have to be sexual to remain in this category. Although the law may not prohibit teasing or isolated incidents of such conduct, harassment is illegal when legally it becomes so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or even when it results in an adverse employment decision. It could be teasing, intimidating, or offensive comments based on certain stereotypes. This could also be bullying someone based on their sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Sometimes, sexual harassment can be about sex and also race and ethnicity. This intersectional harassment could occur where a person of color is treated differently from someone of a different skin color. Sometimes, individuals may be the target of abusive or hostile behavior because of the combination of their sex, race, or ethnicity. 

Some examples of behavior that could amount to sexual harassment are:

  • Talking about sexual activities
  • Inappropriate jokes
  • Unwanted touching
  • Talking about physical appearance or attributes
  • Inappropriate, provocative pictures being displayed
  • Indecent gestures
  • Trading job promotions or favors in return for sexual activity
  • Using inappropriate terms of endearment

A male or female can be a victim of sexual harassment. The victim and the harasser can be a woman or a man, and they can be of the same sex. The combinations could be endless. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee but instead a client or customer. The victim does not have to be harassed directly. They can be an employee who is indirectly yet negatively affected by the offensive conduct. 

When looking at the harassment, it depends on each situation itself to determine how much, and how many incidents of the behavior are sufficient for a sexual harassment claim. This differs from claim to claim.  With the quid pro quo type cases, this could be considered sexual harassment when linked to either the granting or denial of employment benefits. Meanwhile, hostile work environment claims require proof of more of a pattern of offensive conduct. While less severe events low in number may not be sufficient, a single yet extremely severe incident of harassment could be sufficient to constitute a Title VII sexual harassment allegation. In the legal realm, the key is where the harassment is more severe, the less likely the victim will need to show patterns of incidents or repetitive actions.

One of the terms used in the realm of sexual harassment law is sexual violence. There are three main categories of sexual violence. One is the use of physical force. With this type of sexual violence, a person utilizes a powerful force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her own will whether or not the act is completed.  Another type of sexual violence involves an attempted or completed sex act. This occurs when a person involved is unable to understand the nature or condition of the act, to decline participation, or to communicate unwillingness to engage in the sexual act because of illness, disability, or the influence of alcohol or other drugs because of intimidation or pressure. The final type of sexual violence is abusive contact. Any of these actions amount to sexual harassment when they occur due to the actions of an employer in the work context.

Employer Liability and Responsibility

When it comes to responsibility for sexual harassment, the employer is always legally responsible for harassment by a supervisor that culminates into an ultimate tangible employment action. The Supreme Court has recognized this liability is appropriate because an employer acts through its supervisors, and a supervisor’s undertaking of a tangible employment action is equivalent to an act of the employer. Employers can be legally responsible for sexual harassment against their employees and liable to them for damages. Liability often depends on the type of harassment, and who committed it. If the harassment results in a tangible employment action (such as firing, demotion, or unfavorable changes in assignment) the employer is liable. The employer is also liable if they knew or should have known about the harassment unless it took immediate and appropriate corrective action. An employer may be required to post notices to all employees addressing the violations of a specific charge and advising them of their right to be free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Notices must be accessible to persons with visual and other disabilities that affect reading as well. Significant monetary damages are possible and not uncommon in sexual harassment cases. Victims of harassment may receive both compensatory and punitive damages, and they are entitled to a trial by jury. 

Retaliation

If you report sexual harassment, your employer cannot legally ignore you or retaliate against you. Legally, if an employer or someone within HR in your place of employment either knows about the harassment or should know about the harassment, they must take prompt action to try and stop the behavior, investigate the harassment and make sure it doesn’t happen again. The action must be appropriate and effective, actually making the harassment stop without in turn harming you or allowing you to become a target of retaliation. Retaliation is illegal. It is illegal for someone to retaliate against and punish you for reporting or speaking out against sexual harassment, or for participating in an investigation or legal action related to sexual harassment. Some examples of retaliation after reporting an incident in the workplace could include: being fired or demoted, receiving a pay cut or a reduction in your hours or benefits, being assigned a different shift, location, position, receiving new or different duties, or even being asked to take time off without pay. Although retaliation can be subtle at times, it can also get worse over time and become a pattern of behavior.

Remedies

Victims of sexual harassment can recover remedies such as:

  • Promotion 
  • Reinstatement
  • Hiring
  • Front pay
  • Back pay
  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Other actions to make an individual whole
  • Court costs
  • Expert witness fees
  • Attorney’s fees

The Legal Process

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency responsible for investigating charges of job discrimination related to sex in workplaces of 15 or more employees. After you file a complaint, the EEOC will initially notify your employer that you have filed a charge which begins an investigation into your complaint. The EEOC may then take several different paths. 

1)    Settlement: The EEOC may attempt to settle your complaint or refer you and your employer to a mediator.

2)    EEOC files a lawsuit: If the EEOC is unable to reach a settlement between both parties, and the defendant is also a private employer, the EEOC may file a lawsuit in federal court.

3) You file a lawsuit: If a charge is dismissed or the EEOC is unable to reach an agreement to settle the complaint, the EEOC will issue a notice to you advising of your right to sue in court. This notice is known as a “right-to-sue” letter. If you want to file a lawsuit before EEOC completes its process, you may request a right to sue letter.

The Cochran Firm

If you feel you are the victim of sexual harassment, one action you can take to help any future case you might bring is to follow your company’s complaint policy. Confront the harasser and make sure he or she is aware that his or her conduct is offensive and affecting you negatively. 

If you are the victim of sexual harassment, do not blame yourself for someone else’s actions. Do not feel ashamed and choose to ignore the behavior. Do not try to handle the problem yourself, especially if it is persistent. Make your feelings known, and if his or her behavior continues, report it.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual harassment, please contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm, with offices nationwide, today for your free consultation.

Resources: 

Workplace Fairness

Equal Rights Advocates

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

National Conference of State Legislatures

The Cochran Firm

Celebrating Prominent Black Leaders in Law

We should all commemorate Black legal trailblazers yearlong. However, since it is Black History Month, we will be highlighting some of the Black individuals who have not only made history, but also brought historic change in the legal field. Black History Month is an annual celebration that has been celebrated since the year 1976. The Black History Month 2021 theme is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity” and will focus on Black families and their diversity in life, structure, history and culture. 

Black individuals have made and continuously make historical innovations in the legal field, and civil rights arena. To help celebrate around this theme, we will celebrate members of the Black community, past and present, to highlight how Black individuals have shaped the legal landscape to celebrate diversity and make historic innovations in America. 

From the days of slavery to segregation to integration, civil rights, and finally equal treatment, civil rights for Black Americans has been a continuous fight at the very forefront of our country. From the days of the civil rights movement to the present day, injustices against Black Americans still very much exist. Each movement throughout history allowed greater rights and freedoms for Black Americans. While the Civil War abolished slavery, it did not end discrimination and marginalization of Black people. While Black Americans gained the right to vote, they did not get to enjoy the same facilities as their White counterparts. And even after the Civil Rights Movement of the ’50s and ’60s, while Black Americans were allowed legal equality to White Americans, and great strides were made, great injustices still occur in our society today.

The fight for social justice that was promulgated during the civil rights movement continues even today. While Black Americans have gained greater rights under the law, they are still negatively and disproportionately affected by many laws and implicit biases. Small but mighty remnants of discrimination, bias, and unequal treatment from the past still haunt our country to this day and can be seen, for one, in the criminal justice system. In modern times, there is a renewed focus on racial injustices in the American criminal justice system. This includes mass incarcerations and excessive punishment which disproportionately affect Black Americans. 

Here are some of the legal trailblazers in the Black community from the past and present, and some of their contributions to America.

Leaders from the Past 

From the 19th century to the 21st century, countless Black individuals have helped shape our nation and the civil rights landscape as we know it today. So many individuals made it your life’s work and priority to fight for freedom and equality for all Black Americans. 

As a society, we have undoubtedly felt the impact of these individual’s efforts, and will for generations to come. Here are 10 Black individuals who have made a lasting impact on the civil rights landscape as leaders in the legal field.

Macon Bolling Allen:

Macon Bolling Allen was the first licensed and practicing Black attorney in the United States in the 1840’s. 

Jane Bolin:

Jane Bolin was the first Black female judge in the United States. She was also the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School. During her life and career, Bolin advocated for racially integrated child services to ensure that public childcare agencies did not discriminate by race.

Constance Baker Motley:

Motley was the first Black woman to serve as a U.S. senator, argue before the Supreme Court, and be appointed to the federal judiciary. 

Charles H. Houston: 

Houston worked to help dismantle Jim Crow laws, and helped to found the National Bar Association due to the American Bar Association denying admission to Black lawyers. Houston worked to dismantle the separate but equal theory by challenging districts to either integrate or fully fund Black schools. Houston exposed the inequality of the facilities, education, and funding of the separated schools.

Charlotte E. Ray:

Ray participated in the women’s suffrage movement and became the first Black female attorney in the United States. 

Pauli Murray:

Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray was a civil and women’s rights activist among many other titles. Murray argued for gender and civil rights as an attorney. They were recognized as a coauthor on landmark case Reed v. Reed where the Supreme Court ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment protects against differential treatment based on sex. 

Thurgood Marshall:

Thurgood Marshall was a legal trailblazer for the Black community, from playing an instrumental role in ending legal segregation, to becoming the first Black justice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Marshall also founded the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Marshall argued landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education before the Supreme Court as an attorney, and won, ending separate but equal facilities, and integrating public school systems across the nation. Marshall was also named U.S. Solicitor General before making his way to become Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

Fred Gray

Fred Gray is a civil rights attorney who was a member of the Alabama House of Representatives until 2015. He rose to prominence in the civil rights movement, working alongside and defending Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin in courts. Gray also protected the Selma marchers before the Supreme Court and represented the plaintiffs from the Tuskegee experiment lawsuit which led to federal laws ensuring protection of human research subjects.

Johnnie Cochran

Cochran was a pioneer in legally protecting Black people in Los Angeles from police brutality and abuse. The issues of police brutality against Black people have been a renewed focus in 2020 and promulgated the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dorothy Height

Height served as president for the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) for 40 years, making her a leading voice of the civil rights movement. She advocated for criminal justice reform during this time, and gained the trust of presidents to create long-standing change for Black communities. 

Leaders from Today 

The new generation of Black civil rights leaders and leaders in the legal field include founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, the founder of the #MeToo movement, and leaders of prison reform initiatives. From creating racial justice, fighting voter suppression, to justice for all genders and LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant rights, as well as justice for wrongly incarcerated individuals and religious liberties, these trailblazers of today are truly making an impact on our society on all platforms.

All of the civil rights activists on this list work to advance the work of those before them, building upon the foundation that was paved for them, to create a society based on justice and equality. Here are 10 Black civil rights trailblazers of today that are transforming the way our country understands race issues.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama was the first African American president of the United States. He served as the 44thPresident of the United States for two terms from 2009-2017. This presidency was a monumental win for Black Americans everywhere. 

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris was the second African American to serve as a U.S. Senator, the first Black Attorney General in the State of California and most recently became the first African American and female Vice President of the United States. This vice presidency was a momentous win for Black Americans and women everywhere. 

Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson, a public interest attorney, founded The Equal Justice Initiative of which he is the executive director. This organization works to fights injustice in the criminal justice system and seeks to reduce mass incarceration, racial disparities in the justice system and punishments that are considered too punitive. Stevenson and his group have dozens of wrongly condemned prisoners on death row regain freedom, and legally reverse their convictions.

Tarana Burke

Tarana Burke is the founder of the MeToo movement. MeToo is an activist group that helps survivors of sexual violence. A decade after it was founded, the group’s slogan became a hashtag for others to share sexual abuse stories. Burke’s life’s work has been in serving others in marginalized groups, and gender equity. This group now has promulgated many cases including the infamous Harvey Weinstein court case. This new legal window has allowed many women to come forward with their stories of survival, and bring sexual abuse, normally a topic hidden in the shadows, into the public eye and legal forefront.

Stacey Abrams

Abrams is a lawyer and politician who served in the Georgia House of Representatives until 2017. She founded Fair Fight Action, an organization to address voter suppression in 2018. Her efforts to address this issue have widely been credited with boosting voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election, senate election and special election. 

Lawyers for the Black Lives Matter Movement

From 2012 with the death of Trayvon Martin, to 2014 with the death of Michael Brown, to 2020 with the death Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, this movement has history in this century in the last and is ongoing. Lawyers such as Benjamin Crump, Lonita Baker and Sam Aguiar advocate for the rights of the individuals who have suffered from police brutality. Opal Tometi should also be mentioned as co-founder of the black lives matter movement, along with Patrisse Cullors, and Alicia Garza.

Kimberlé Crenshaw

Crenshaw is a leading authority in the area of civil rights, constitutional law, race and gender equality. Her work has brought awareness to problems that individuals of simultaneous race and gender prejudice face. This intersectionality approach followed her work, in her  advocation for a gender-inclusive approach to racial justice interventions. 

Ciara Taylor

Taylor became an activist following the death of Trayvon Martin. She is now a political Director at Dream Defenders which fights for social justice. She has protested the “stand your ground” law” as well to fight for gun reform.

Laverne Cox

Cox has become a trailblazer in the transgender movement, advocating for legal rights and protections for transgender individuals discriminated against. She has become the face of the transgender movement. Cox has advocated for rights regarding the intersectionality of race and gender as well.

Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander is an advocate for prison reform. Her recent book was a commentary on our society,  mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness, arguing that the open racial oppression of the 1900’s has been replaced by a new system of racial oppression with prisons filled disproportionately with black men. Alexander explains that this is a new form of discrimination. 

THE COCHRAN FIRM

The Cochran Firm built its reputation on the back of its work in civil rights and police brutality cases. Johnnie Cochran began his practice in Los Angeles by representing those in Los Angeles who had been mistreated and wronged by police. As his status grew, his principles remained the same. Long after our founder’s passing, his principles live on in the Firm he built. If you have been mistreated or wronged, please mistreated or wronged please call The Cochran Firm. We have been fighting since the 1970’s for our clients and our work has led to:

·      Policy reforms

·      The release of wrongfully imprisoned men after 20 years

·      The changing of state flags

·      Justice for the families of loved ones lost to hate crimes. 

Our attorneys are in the courtroom every day fighting for the rights of Americans like you. Indications that civil rights abuses occur across our nation have become more evident in more recent years. If you or someone you love is subjected to unfair treatment in a form of civil rights abuse, you need a law firm on your side that knows how to get justice. 

The Cochran Firm, founded by civil rights activist Johnnie Cochran, is staffed by attorneys dedicated to protecting the rights of all Americans. We would be honored to meet with you free of charge to discuss your case and help you determine the most effective way to seek the justice you deserve.

If you are in need of a civil rights attorney, please contact The Cochran Firm online or by calling (800) 843-3476 today to schedule your free case evaluation. 

Resources:

American Bar Association

USA Today

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What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is commonly defined as when a medical professional does not provide medical care that adheres with the medical standard. 

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed because a doctor or other medical professional failed to competently perform their medical duties. While some state’s rules on medical malpractice may vary slightly, overall there are broad categories of rules that apply to most medical malpractice cases. 

Basic Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim:

To prove medical malpractice occurred, there are four main elements you must prove. These are proving: a doctor patient relationship, that the doctor was negligent, that negligence caused the injury, and that the injury led to specific damages. To sue for malpractice, you must show that the doctor caused your harm in a way that under the same circumstances, a competent doctor would not have caused that specific harm. The 4 D’s that make up these elements are: duty, dereliction, direct cause and damages. Once these elements are met, the patient likely has a medical malpractice claim and can begin preparing their court action.

Not all cases necessarily qualify for a medical malpractice claim. Just because a patient may have been injured while under the care of their doctor does not necessarily entitle them to a medical malpractice claim. All medical treatments have the potential to go wrong. Doctors are not legally liable for undesirable outcomes, but they are when they fail to perform their legal duties. In the same vein, health care providers are not expected to do everything perfectly, but are expected to perform competently, using legitimate skill and care. 

Doctor-Patient Relationship

The first element means you must prove that you had a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor you are suing. This must be a consensual relationship on both sides of the bargain, where you hired the doctor and the doctor agreed to provide you a service. You cannot sue a doctor who you heard advice from on the internet or social media for example because you did not hire them, they have not agreed to take you as their patient and you do not in fact have a doctor-patient relationship. It can prove difficult to prove a doctor-patient relationship even if you have one. Even if you did hire a doctor, and had a doctor-patient relationship, where they did not treat you directly, the relationship can become foggy. It is much easier to prove a doctor-patient relationship where you were actually being seen and treated by a medical professional. When there is a doctor-patient relationship there is a duty of reasonable care on the part of the medical professional. 

The Doctor was Negligent

To determine negligence, this must be more than the fact that you are unhappy with the treatment you received. The doctor must have had to have been specifically negligent in connection with your diagnosis or procedure performed. The doctor’s care is not required to be the “best possible” necessarily, but must be “reasonably skillful and careful.” Therefore, whether the doctor was reasonably skilled and careful, therefore competent, in the course of the medical treatment makes or breaks this element of the claim. This dereliction, or deviation from the standard of care is a key element of the medical malpractice case. 

The Doctor’s Negligence Caused Injury

Even if you prove that the doctor was negligent in the course of the medical treatment, and that there was a doctor-patient relationship, you must prove that the doctor caused the injury. This can get foggy because many medical malpractice cases involve patients that were already injured or ill.  To prove the doctor’s negligence caused the injury, the standard is that it is “more likely than not” that the doctor’s incompetence directly caused the injury. Where the doctor’s negligence is the direct cause of the injury, this element is met. 

The Injury Led to Specific Damages

Even if the doctor was negligent and caused injury, there is no case unless the patient suffered harm. Therefore, this is the ultimate factor in proving your medical malpractice claim. There are specific types of harm a patient can sue for. These include mental anguish, physical pain, additional medical bills, lost work and lost earning capacity. Damage is the final element that needs to be determined. 

Common Types of Medical Malpractice:

Medical malpractice can take place at any point within the course of a medical provider treating a patient. From the initial diagnosis, to the treatment itself, there are a number of times within the course of treatment where malpractice can occur. Negligence that rises to the level of medical malpractice can occur in many different scenarios. These could be anything from failure to diagnose a harmful condition of a patient, failure to advise a patient of serious risks, and unacceptable errors during the performance during surgery or another procedure. 

Most medical malpractice cases fall into 3 main categories. These are: failure to diagnose, failure to warn a patient of known risks, and improper treatment. 

Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose

Sometimes a doctor fails to recognize and diagnose a condition that a competent doctor would have spotted. This error may contribute to a condition progressing resulting in more treatments, pain and suffering. Even from the initial office visit, if a competent doctor would have discovered a patient’s illness or made a different diagnosis which in turn would have led to a better outcome for the patient than the current one, then that patient may have a viable medical malpractice claim. A plaintiff bringing this type of claim would need to introduce expert testimony from a doctor who can explain why a competent doctor would have correctly diagnosed the condition or diagnosed it sooner. 

Failure to Warn a Patient of Known Risks

Doctors have a duty to warn patients of known risks of a procedure or treatment. This is also known as the duty of informed consent. Therefore, if the doctor does not warn a patient of potential risks of a certain procedure, and that patient would have elected not to go through with it had they known, the doctor is then liable for medical malpractice if the patient is injured in the procedure. The injury counts as long as the patient is injured in a way that the doctor should have warned could happen. This is also known as a foreseeable injury.

Improper Treatment

This claim can be valid where a doctor utilizes a treatment for the patient in a way that no other competent doctor would. There could also be medical malpractice in this type where the doctor chose the appropriate treatment yet administered the treatment incompetently. With this type of medical malpractice, this could include surgical errors, anesthesia errors, child birth errors and even prescription errors.

Prescription drug errors mainly occur when a patient is given the wrong medication, wrong dosage or not made aware of certain side effects of medication. Many different medical professionals including doctors, pharmacists and drug manufacturers could all be held responsible for prescription mistakes. While the doctor will likely be liable if a mistake happens during the prescription process, a nurse or hospital could be liable for a mistake made during administration. The hospital equipment could even be defective and subsequently administer an improper dose. 

Child birth errors occur when there is negligence during childbirth which in turn leads to harm of the mother, baby or both. Almost twenty percent of medical malpractice cases are filed against OBGYN’s. This is more lawsuits than are filed against any other medical provider. Negligence on the doctor’s part during childbirth could lead to certain complications such as fatal distress, spinal cord injuries and postpartum hemorrhage.  Sometimes inadequate treatment or care prior to childbirth can cause harm to the mother and child, and other times injuries may occur during the actual birth process. 

Surgical errors are also a common type of medical malpractice. The errors could include certain complications such as wrong incision site, incorrect surgery site or even leaving a foreign object like a sponge inside the body. While many surgical errors may be the result of a surgeon’s error, most are the result of poor planning before the surgery or factors that occur after the surgery. Some types of surgical errors are known as “never events” meaning the medical profession acknowledges that certain errors should never occur. These would be an obvious surgical error. A doctor may also operate on either the wrong patient altogether or wrong body part during a procedure. Complications and infections following a surgery may also cause significant harm and could be a surgical error.

Errors with anesthesia can trigger medical malpractice cases as well. Mistakes made by an anesthesiologist can cause anything from a brain injury to death of a patient. A number of things could go wrong during the course of treatment. If the anesthesiologist does not focus enough attention to a patient’s medical history or gives too much anesthesia, consequences can be deadly. A medical provider may fail to provide the patient with proper instruction before a procedure, fail to monitor the patient’s vital signs while administering the anesthesia, or use defective equipment during the procedure. There can also be malpractice during sedation for dental procedures or certain outpatient operations.

Your Next Steps:

Because there are special rules and procedures for medical malpractice claims, many of which vary from state to state it is important to know and follow these rules carefully. The rules are complex and detailed so paying close mind to these rules would be prudent in creating your lawsuit. 

Time Deadlines

In most states you must bring a claim for medical malpractice between 6 months to 2 years either when the incident occurs or when it is discovered. This statute of limitations means if you do not file you case within this period of time, the court will dismiss your case, even if you met the elements of medical malpractice. When the time period begins to start counting depends on the state. In some states, the clock starts ticking when the negligent act occurred, while in other states, it begins when the patient discovers the injury. 

Review Panels

Some states require the patient to submit their claim to a review panel before the next step of moving the lawsuit to the courtroom. The review panels are made up of experts who firstly review evidence and testimony and then decide whether malpractice occurred. While this decision is not binding like a lawsuit’s final judgment, and also awards no damages, the findings can be presented at trial as evidence. Courts also rely on the findings of these courts to determine if the case is ready for the courtroom.

Notice

Some states may require that you give your doctor notice that you are filing a medical malpractice claim against them. The rule may also require you to explain what the case is regarding as to what specific medical incident.  

Expert Testimony

Almost every state requires that the patient to provide a medical expert to testify to the court the medical standard of care in each case, and explain how the doctor deviated from this standard of care.

Damage Limitations

Many states have caps for damages in medical malpractice actions.

Conclusion

Because medical malpractice law is so complex and highly regulated, and varies so much between states, getting advice from an experienced attorney can make or break your case. 

At the Cochran Firm, the leadership of our Medical Malpractice Section and many of its section members are Board Certified in Medical Malpractice.  All of our medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and expertise to help you screen and prosecute your medical malpractice case. And we often bring a team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys from several different office locations to handle our cases at no additional charge to our clients.

Our case review gives our potential clients a free resource to have our medical experts and experienced medical malpractice attorneys review your claim to determine if medical malpractice occurred.

The Cochran Firm has the resources to access and hire top medical experts in any field of medicine to help prove your case.  Many of our offices have in-house nurses and physicians that help us research difficult medical issues and provide screening in complicated cases.  Let our experienced medical malpractice team review your case today.  As with all of our reviews, it costs you nothing.  And if we take your case, we do not charge a fee unless a recovery is obtained on your behalf.

Our results with medical malpractice cases speak for themselves.  Our attorneys have procured hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of the injured patients we have represented.

If you’ve suffered a devastating personal injury as a result of a medical professional’s error, you should speak to our medical malpractice attorneys immediately. Please contact The Cochran Firm today for a free consultation.

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