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.




New England Law


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. 


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. 


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.


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.


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 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. 


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.


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.


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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What steps should you take after you have been in a car crash?

Car crashes can be life-changing experiences. This ordeal can involve dealing with medical providers such as hospitals and chiropractors, insurance agencies, and even sometimes the court system. Depending on the severity of the crash the process of dealing with the car accident could consume your life from months, years or even the rest of your life. No matter the length of time the process takes, the key thing is to get you back on your feet back to normal again as quickly as possible, and to get compensated for any injuries sustained. 

While many steps in the recovery process are medical, financial recovery can be time consuming as well. For this matter, securing a personal injury lawyer to assist you in your claim is essential. 

There are over 6 million car accidents each year, and of these accidents around 3 million are injured. 

If you find yourself injured after a car accident, you could deal with more than just recovery physically. Financially you could be impacted by having to miss work and pay expensive medical bills from the hospital to rehab.

Taking legal action could help you recover these financial losses to allow you ease of mind in your recovery process. 

When you are in a car accident here are some steps to take immediately. These steps are important legally because what you do after a car crash could truly make or break your case.

Here is a checklist of steps to take on the road to recovery, and securing compensation for your injuries. 

  Step 1: Ensure your safety.

After a car crash, it is important to stay alert and ensure your safety above all else. Once you gather yourself, try to pull over onto a safe place off the main road, and turn on your hazard lights. Do not leave your vehicle to avoid getting hit by an oncoming car.

It is important to stay calm and understand that the post-accident process is straightforward. While it is not always stress-free, there is in fact a path for your case. Keeping calm will likely help you document the wreck more accurately and save crucial evidence for your case. 

Once you have pulled out of traffic into safety, do a quick safety check of the vehicle. If you smell gas, leave your vehicle immediately, and leave the car where it is. Move to the safest nearby space away from the vehicle until the police or medics arrive. At this point in time, personal safety is key over everything. 

Do not leave the scene of the car crash when there was any kind of injury or someone was killed, or this could lead to negative legal consequences. Fleeing the scene of a crash is illegal when there is an injury or death, and could be considered a hit and run, making you seem more guilty. Stay at the scene and remember to remain calm. 

If there are any injuries, make sure you assess where you are hurt. If you need medical attention make sure to call an ambulance so they can send over some emergency responders to assist you. 

If you have no or minimal injuries, you can check on the safety of other drivers involved in the crash. However, only look for their safety, and do not discuss the crash. Legally, it is important not to get into conversations regarding the accident, which could be used against you later with insurance involved.

Even if you do not feel like you have injuries directly after the crash, it is typical to discover injuries hours to days after the accident. This is due to the fact that adrenaline after a crash keeps you from feeling pain or realizing your injuries.

Therefore, for your case, consider going to the emergency room, urgent care clinic or your local physician. These individuals are skilled at determining whether you have certain injuries when you may not be able to realize yourself at the time of the crash due to the adrenaline rushed into your system.

Step 2: Call 911.

Make sure that once you are pulled over and have ensured your own safety that you call 911 to call police to the scene. In some states this a legal requirement, but for those that it is not, it is smart for your legal case to create a police report getting evidence from the scene of the crash.

Even if you think you are at fault, it is essential to call 911 and stay on the scene. It is also important both cars stay for the police report to be filed to get the most accurate information possible at the time. If you don’t get a police report you will likely have to report the accident to the DMV later which could become even more stressful having to recall information.

Even if there is minimal damage, and no injuries, calling the police never hurts. It is important to get an official record of the details of the crash.

When the police arrive they will create an accident or police report. This will allow an attorney to evaluate your legal case more easily. The report provides details about the crash, how it occurred, documents the parties, and provides other information attorneys will need when determining you legal case. 

It could be helpful to get the officer’s name and badge number and report number to get a copy of the report when it is complete. 

It is important not to make small talk at the scene of the crash while waiting for the police. Do not offer your opinion on anything related to the crash, and only exchange necessary information while waiting for the police to come.

Again it is crucial, the less you say about the car accident, the better it will be for you and your future legal case. Do not admit fault to anyone.

Step 3: Collect Important Information.

While you wait for the police to assess the car accident, you can try to gather information you may need for your claim later on. This will help you legal case and insurance agencies. Some things that you made need to gather from the other driver from the car crash would be: 

·      The name of the other driver

·      The other driver’s address

·      The other driver’s license ID

·      The other driver’s license plate number

·      The other driver’s phone number if they will provide it

·      The other driver’s insurance information

Looking at the accident itself, it is important you note key information to relay to your lawyer and insurance provider. This is important to do at the scene just in case you forget certain details in the days to come. Courts also rely more heavily on accounts from the scene opposed to accounts from days, weeks or months later. 

It may even be wise to draw a diagram of the crash or make notes on your smartphone. It may also be smart to take pictures with your smartphone of the scene.

Note the following:

·      Where the accident occurred

·      The road you were on when you crashed

·      The direction you and the other car were travelling at the time of the accident

·      The driving conditions

·      The weather conditions

·      Your personal recollection of the crash

·      The time and date of the accident

·      Police officer’s name and phone number

·      Personal notes on what happened during the incident

·      Photos of any damage

It is also important not to make small talk. If someone asks you at the scene if you are okay, just note that you are not sure and only your doctor can assess the situation. Keep any contact to a minimum except essential communication.

Step 4: Contact Your Insurance Provider.

After the car crash, it is crucial to contact your insurance company and inform them of the crash. Contacting them does not mean you are at fault. They need to know of the crash just in case the other driver is not insured. It is also important to determine what insurance coverage would apply because certain coverages are better for your situation.

Assuming the other driver is at fault, for your vehicle, the other driver’s property damage liability insurance  will pay for repairs up to their policy limit.

For any of your medical bills, these will be covered up to the limit of the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage. However if you live in a no-fault state, your own personal injury protection would then cover your medical expenses. 

If the other driver does not have insurance, uninsured motorist coverage will pay out. This is required in 21 states and the District of Columbia. 

The insurance company is crucial in providing your lawyer with key information from the car crash. They can work with the other driver’s insurance as well. 

If the other driver’s insurance does not reach out, get into contact with them to let them know you were in a wreck with one of their policyholders. It is also important to note that you only need to provide essential information, and no recorded statements which could later hurt your case and be used against you. 

Step 5: Decide Whether to File a Claim. 

While a driver may wish to pay for damage from a vehicle from their own pockets, it may be wise to file a claim. Even minor damage can cost up to $6,000 depending on the vehicle.

If an accident was the other driver’s fault, you still may need to be prepared to file a claim with your insurance agency and pay a deductible. They will work with the other insurance company and refund a deductible. 

If you live in a no-fault state, your personal injury insurance will cover you and anyone in the car with you from the car crash. 

The other company will do an investigation to determine if their policyholder is at fault. An adjuster will then get a repair estimate from you to assess damages on the vehicle.

If for some reason their coverage is insufficient, your own coverage could be an option as well. Uninsured motorist coverage would likely work just as well. Deductibles for both will also usually apply.

Step 6: Call an Attorney

After you have taken the steps above, it is important to contact an attorney to take your case, and provide important details from the car accident. It is important to find a firm that has specialty and experience in car accident cases. 

Hiring an attorney can put someone in your corner who not only understands your state’s laws, but can put all their efforts into working on your case while you work on getting back healthy, happy and normal again.

Important details to keep track for your attorney are medical expenses including care for injuries from the car crash, and a record of visits to either doctor or clinic medication and treatments.

Talk to an attorney about injuries from the car accident, and any and all information from the car accident to make your case. To best evaluate your case, the lawyer will need all the information you are able to collect. 

The Cochran Firm 

The Cochran Firm has experience dealing with car accident cases, as well as truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian and bicycle accidents, and bus accidents as well. 

If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an auto accident, you need a dedicated attorney on your side. The experienced auto accident lawyers at The Cochran Firm have a proven record of helping victims of injury get maximum compensation. We are here to take your case, fight for your rights, and help you get the justice you are due. If you are in need of an auto accident attorney, please contact The Cochran Firm online or by calling (800) 843-3476 today to be put in touch with a lawyer in your area.

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm also accept cases ranging from boating injuries to airplane accidents. Therefore, no matter the vehicle you were in when your accident may have occurred, the experienced auto accident attorneys at The Cochran Firm can help you get the compensation you need to make your road to recovery the easiest and most efficient. 

Our attorneys work with a network of experts to thoroughly investigate car crashes and identify all the contributing factors to the crash. The Cochran firm utilizes this information to build solid evidence-based cases that will greatly improve the likelihood of a successful outcome. If necessary, the attorneys can take the case to trial to get the compensation you deserve.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our auto accident attorneys, please contact us today. We maintain offices throughout the United States, better enabling us to fight tirelessly for the rights of injury victims in all areas of the country.


Reason Over Law

Nerd Wallet

Cochran Firm

Class Action Lawsuit Checklist: Do You Have a Claim?

What is a Class Action Lawsuit?

A class action is a lawsuit where a large number of potential plaintiffs have experienced the same or similar harm. These individuals, known as a “class” file a civil lawsuit against one or several entities. While the category of the class action lawsuits varies, the two factors that remain the same in all class action lawsuits are that the injuries in question are common to the entire class, and the potential plaintiffs together are too numerous to bring each case individually before the court. These cases can be brought in state or federal court based on the case at hand. 

Reasons for bringing a Class Action Lawsuit

Most often, class action lawsuits are brought for public policy reasons to change the way an entity is behaving or treating certain individuals. Sometimes, class actions are the only means of allowed injured individuals to recover from their injuries caused by larger entities. Also, most often, the costs of individual lawsuits would be far greater than the value of the claim for one person. Therefore, but for a class action without any legal ramifications, the entity would likely continue their conduct and possibly continue to cause harm to individuals. However, class actions allow many individuals who could not afford a lawsuit on their own to not only recover for their injuries but also remedy injustices committed by large corporations who have harmed them. These plaintiffs together then have the resources to hire an attorney and obtain restitution by filing the legal action.  Also, where there is a pattern of wrongdoing, the larger lawsuit allows a single judgment as opposed to many judgments. This avoids the risks of the inconsistency of judgments on important matters that affect many individuals. Further, this means fewer cases congesting small claims court that could have easily been dealt with in one collective lawsuit. More than anything, class actions motivate defendants to settle since there are so many plaintiffs.

Reasons against bringing a Class Action Lawsuit

Some reasons why a plaintiff may not want to bring a class-action lawsuit are that plaintiffs may be disappointed based on the time and money aspects of a class action case. Class action cases can take a long time to settle. When class members turn over control to attorneys, they may have certain expectations of getting money and a result quick. The plaintiffs may receive only a small award which may be a coupon or rebate instead of cash, which could be disappointing to some individuals who expect a cash award for their injury. The plaintiffs also give up right to sue individually, so they must deal with the outcome of the case whatever it may be. When complex lawsuits drag on for years due to the amount of plaintiffs, and damages do not amount to much due to the fact that they are divided among the entire group. 

Do you have a claim?

This can be proven in the same way a class is certified. To prove there is a claim, the representative plaintiff must follow Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. 

1)    The number of class members renders it impracticable to join them in the action.

2)    The class members’ claims share common questions of law or fact.

3)    The claims or defenses of the proposed class representatives are typical of those for the rest of the class

4)    The proposed class representatives will adequately protect the interests of the entire class. 

Further, in addition to the numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation requirements of  Rule 23(a), the court must make at least one of the following findings from Rule 23(b).

1)    Requiring separate actions by or against the class members would create a risk of inconsistent rulings or that a ruling with respect to individual class members may be dispositive of other class member claims thereby “substantially impairing or impeding their ability to protect their interests. 

2)    The party against whom the class seeks relief has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class so that injunctive or declaratory relief as to the entire class would be appropriate.

3)    Common questions of law or fact predominate over class members’ specific questions, and that proceeding by wat of a class action would be “superior to other available methods” for resolving the dispute. 

What is the typical procedure for a class action lawsuit?

One individual or plaintiff is enough to file a lawsuit, so long as their lawyer is confident with good faith belief that other people were injured in a similar way. One or a few representatives file the lawsuit while other potential class members or plaintiffs are instructed on how to receive their award in case of settlement of positive trial verdict. 

A group or class of plaintiffs is represented by one or more “lead” plaintiffs. The injuries suffered and allegations alleged by the lead plaintiffs must be similar or the same to those of the other class members. The lead plaintiff must demonstrate that the class has a valid claim against the defendant and that all members have similar claims. The lead plaintiff must also show that the suit can adequately represent all group members. Class action lawsuits are usually filed either against government entities, financial institutions, manufacturers, retailers, or employers. 

A class-action lawsuit can be commenced where the plaintiff files a complaint that contains allegations of the lawsuit. Then, when the lawsuit is filed, every individual who could have been affected by the class action has a right to be notified about the lawsuit. They are entitled to the best notice possible, which could be through ads in tv, newspapers, magazines, or flyers. The court will tailor notice to best fit the case. 

Once potential plaintiff class members are notified, they can usually opt-in or opt-out.  If members have more specified injuries caused by a specific defendant such as a plane crash, these members are usually automatically a part of the class action, cannot opt-out, and must deal with the outcome. Potential class members who wish to opt-out of the class action suit must follow a specific procedure. If they do not follow this, they will remain as a part of the class until they do so.

Once the class action complaint is filed and served on the defendant, the class must be certified. This must occur before the lawsuit can proceed. The judge is allowed to exercise a fair amount of discretion in this process. Arguments for and against certification can be complex. A class certification basically means that the case has been vetted so that there is a viable claim and that the defendant is now facing a legitimate lawsuit. 

To be certified as a class, the requirements are the same as the lead plaintiff’s ability to have a claim. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) explains it must be impracticable to join all the claimants in one lawsuit. If there are 40+ people, this is usually sufficient, while 20 would not usually be sufficient for a class action. The claims must all be based on the same problem or wrongdoing, the named plaintiffs or class representatives must have the same or similar, and defenses to the claims must be the same or similar as well. Further, the class representatives must provide fair and adequate protection for the class. 

At this point, if the class is not certified, the case will be dismissed. If the class is certified, it can then move on to pre-trial procedures. Settlement negotiations may begin at this point as well. Most class action suits are settled out of court. The benefits of class actions are that they are efficient, collecting, and disposing of claims. They ensure each member is compensated for their injury or loss. The costs of the lawsuit are also lower due. Class action lawsuits rarely go to trial. If they are not dismissed they usually negotiate a settlement before the trial date.

Before settlement, the judge must approve the proposed settlement with attorney’s fees. The judge must make sure the amount is fair to all members of the class who will in turn be stuck with the settlement. Each member of the class will then receive a percentage of the total amount. The award may consist of cash, refund, services to monitor credit, or a certain benefit. 

Common Types of Class Action Lawsuits

The most common categories of class action lawsuits are environmental, finance, employment, civil rights, product defects, and dangerous drugs. 


Environmental issues that may affect air, water or otherwise typically affect large classes of individuals. When there is this type of contamination, these cases are usually brought to change the way the defendants dispose of their waste, to promulgate them to make greater efforts to avoid polluting the environment and avoid future litigation. The Cochran Firm has handled environmental cases of this sort where pollution in the air from a chemical plant caused property and personal damage to nearby residential areas. The firm got a positive verdict in another case in this category when a company left zinc waste in a West Virginia community which put the residents at risk for cancer and disease. 


These class-action lawsuits often involve predatory lending and breaches of security law. Victims of fraud can bring these lawsuits to recover and ensure practices are changed to protect the interests of investors and future customers. This can also involve securities fraud. 


Employment class action lawsuits lead to defendants and similarly situated businesses to change their practices. Common types of employment cases involve wage and hour laws, sexual harassment, discriminatory hiring or pay hostile workplaces, or businesses being run against federal or state law. This can also involve manipulative business practices.

Civil Rights

Class action lawsuits are common with civil rights lawsuits, meant to bring about impactful and sustainable change. Notable cases have been integrating public schools, and more recently calling for fair conduct of police, sex discrimination policies, and unfair treatment of those with disabilities. The Cochran Firm currently has a case in Atlanta where many local attorneys are suing the city for their methods of handling police brutality cases. 

Product Defects

These product defects class actions make up a significant portion of all class action cases. In these cases, a defect in a product impacts many individuals. Where a successful verdict is reached, individuals are entitled to damages based on their injuries. These lawsuits require manufacturers to change their practices to prevent injuries of this sort from their products in the future. 

Dangerous Drugs

Defective drugs and pharmaceuticals often create injury in quite many individuals as opposed to a mere few. Individuals can bring lawsuits in this category to encourage certain pharmaceutical companies to maintain safer testing procedures and products in the future. The Cochran Firm is currently handling opioid lawsuits in the state of Nevada and represents nearly all counties and cities, as well as local Native American tribes. 

Cochran Firm Notable Cases:

The Cochran Firm has won many class action cases for clients. Some notable cases are related to the class action categories of dangerous drugs and environmental issues.

The Firm ended up with a $182.5 Million Jury Verdict against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Baxter Healthcare Corp., and McKesson Corp who gave 3 clients contaminated vials of Propofol that resulted in the individuals contracting hepatitis C.

They also received a $381 Million Jury Verdict on behalf of residents of Spelter, West Virginia who were put at risk of cancer, heart disease, and lead poisoning when E.I. DuPont negligently created a 112 – acre zinc waste site in their community. DuPont was ordered to pay for the clean up of the property and medical monitoring for the residents of the community.

The Firm received a $700 Million Judgement and Settlement against a chemical plant when the chemical PCB was allowed to migrate off-site resulting in property damage and personal injuries.

Finally, The Firm received over $1 Billion in recoveries for victims of the weight loss drug Fen-Phen. The lawsuit was against the manufacturer American Home Products. All in all, The Cochran Firm has secured over $35 billion in verdicts, settlements, and judgments for their clients. 


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What Qualifies as a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Personal injury lawsuits are legal conflicts that happen when a single person experiences injury from either an injury or an accident, and another person might be held legally responsible for that damage. Personal injury claims involve two primary concerns: liability and damages. If you can connect the dots in between these two, indicating that the accused is accountable for the problems you sustained, then you have likely had a case and our system of justice will likely award you payment for the loss you received. Every tort case may it be through negligence, intentional torts, or strict liability can be the basis of an accident suit.

What are the Qualities of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

To qualify as an accident claim, the instance should include negligence, strict liability, or an intentional tort. Negligence situations are not limited to just car crashes. These cases reach lots of accident suits such as medical malpractice situations.

Another basis for a personal injury suit is strict liability. This expanding area of tort legislation includes holding people that design and create products “strictly liable” for injuries resulting from flaws in the products. In these situations, the complainant needs to reveal that the item was made and/or made in a way that made the item unreasonably unsafe when used as meant.

Intentional torts are one more basis for personal injury cases. This is when a person commits a tortious act upon function. Examples of this are if someone hits you or wrongfully detains you for theft. Individuals that commit deliberate torts like assault and battery can be held criminally or civilly liable.

What Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Provide for You?

Injury cases cover a broad range of situations as well as accidents. While lots of people might assume they can manage their injury claims by themselves, and also can reduce legal charges, many clients can benefit from a personal injury lawyer’s experience and knowledge.

While in certain situations, you may handle your case with Small Claims Court and even your own insurance, you may also need to consult a legal professional. This can depend on the legal components of your case, and naturally the severity of the injuries. If an individual were to handle their own case, they would need to comprehend what they are capable of doing alone, and also what could be at stake if they were to mishandle their case.

To figure out if a lawyer is right for your case, or if you might be not sure about whether you need an attorney for your instance, it is best to call an attorney immediately after your injury.

Particular situations where you may not need a lawyer would be in car and truck crash cases with little to no injuries. Other variables that can contribute to a decision not to keep an attorney is if you are comfortable in working with a cases adjustor, or confident in researching regulations and the negotiation process. There is additionally normally no requirement to have a lawyer if you live in a no-fault state, do not have significant injuries or the truth that you have actually already been offered the highest negotiation settlement feasible under the accused’s insurance policy.

Nevertheless, there are other instances that would require you to work with an attorney. These are various depending if you are in small cases court or otherwise. If the insurer or party in small claims court has legal representation, then it may be wise to consider this also.

While some people decide not to work with an attorney since promptly after their crash, their injuries seem minor, this is not a good mindset. Some apparently minor injuries can turn into significant injuries within weeks to months of the accident. In this instance, where the small injuries are no longer small, and also you may have already approved a settlement deal, you cannot recuperate for any kind of future injuries from the mishap due to the fact that you signed away your civil liberties to sue regarding this insurance claim in the future by accepting the settlement.

A case might not be complete within a few days or even months after the crash which caused your injuries because you might have emotional distress along with pain and suffering.

All in all, when thinking about a personal injury claim, the level of the injury can make all the difference. It is important to speak with an attorney as well as wait to accept offers until you know the complete degree of your injuries.

A Walkthrough of a Personal Injury Legal Action:

When an individual is injured in whatever scenario it may be, if their problems relate to more than $10,000 which is the limit for most small claims courts, then they will likely not be able to represent themselves and also would require a lawyer.

After a preliminary examination, the lawyer will likely launch an exploratory investigation of the insurance claim to figure out if you may have a case. If the attorney establishes that the damaged individual has a possible case, they will become a client, authorize a cost agreement, and will subsequently have an attorney-client connection.

Prior to submitting a lawsuit, it is important to note the statute of limitations on your specific case. In some states, this can be as brief as one year. If you miss out on the target date for your case, it will be rejected. After identifying that a case exists, the plaintiff’s attorney files a complaint in civil court. This file discusses what the offender did and also exactly how the plaintiff was harmed.

When you file a legal action for your personal injury claim, you end up being the complainant or plaintiff in the case, and the person who harmed you after that comes to be the defendant in the case. After the problem is filed, the plaintiff’s lawyer will serve the accused, physically delivering the complaint, describing when the offender is meant to appear in court.

After the grievance is submitted, the Defendant will likely alert their insurance provider about the claim. At this moment, the insurer will then appoint and pay for a lawyer unless the offender had actually previously employed one. After you submit a lawsuit, pre-trial, attorneys on each side of the legal action, the plaintiff lawyer and defense attorney that usually represents insurance agencies, examine the situation and gather facts by exchanging papers, questions, and depositions. This is called the procedure of discovery.

The exploration procedure can take anywhere from months to years depending upon the case. Once discovery is done, the accused will try to dismiss the instance requesting for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff cannot win on the facts at hand. In the early stages of the claim, both plaintiff and defense attorneys will have a court appearance where they notify the court of the case progression, and after that to accept arbitration or mediation to resolve the legal action or set a trial date.

Negotiation is a lot more usual with personal injury situations in fact most move to the trial phase. To determine whether to clear up the case or most likely to test, the legal representative will likely supply a realistic evaluation of the instance to determine whether the case will certainly achieve success at trial.

One alternative as well as one of the most popular choices is an informal settlement. A lot of situations over fault for an injury or crash can be dealt with the negotiation procedure. The negotiation normally occurs between the attorneys and clients. If you work a case out of court, the plaintiff consents to a monetary quantity in return for going down the claim against the individual who wounded them. Both sides will after that likely sign a written arrangement, assuring to abandon any further activity in the form of a lawsuit, discharging the other side from future obligation. Both sides concur rather to a certain amount of cash in a settlement contract. A settlement can occur at any time when a claim is filed. This could be prior to trial and also after trial but prior to a jury reaches a verdict. It is the client’s decision.

One more choice is formal legal action. These are commonly initiated when the plaintiff submits a civil case against an additional individual, organization, corporation or government agency which will be known as the accused. If you win a case in court, the court will award problems for injuries. This can include payment for lost salaries, loss of future salaries, physical pain and suffering, physical disfigurement or impairment, or clinical expenses that arise from your injuries. The preliminary test usually lasts a couple of days. After trial, either party may launch an appeal which can last from months to years. However, after the trial process is exhausted, a defendant that loses the case must compensate the plaintiff for their damages.

It is very important to keep in mind that accused in civil instances such as personal injury claims are only billed a financial amount for their activities of harming the plaintiff. This is not the punishment that some plaintiffs wish. If you are searching for penalties or imprisonment to punish an individual that caused your injuries, after that you would certainly need to consider a criminal claim. While civil legal action courts can award punitive damages against an accused for their intentional acts against you, this is rare, and typically not utilized

Either way, if you win your case with settlement or trial, the liable individual’s insurer will pay cash to the defendant for the plaintiff’s injuries in the form of clinical costs, pain, and suffering as well as ongoing injuries and expenses. Overall, if you are thinking of enacting a personal injury lawsuit, it is best to review your case with a lawyer to identify the very best strategy for you.

Common Sorts of Personal Injury Cases:

Car Crashes:

One of the most typical personal injury cases involves automobile crashes. In these situations, there is likely a negligence insurance claim where a driver fell short of their duty to exercise reasonable care. Where this obligation is breached, and an injury results, the regulation enables you compensation for your losses. While the legislation in various states varies concerning fault, the underlying regulation of negligence continues to be primarily the same. A bar to recuperation in these cases is where a state is a “no-fault” state, and complainants are relegated to recuperate from their injuries as well as losses from their own insurer unless there is a serious injury involved.

Slip and Fall Cases:

Slip and fall cases are likewise a common sort of personal injury claim. This type of claim can take place where owners or renters of homes are accountable for problems where they breach their lawful duty to maintain their properties without risks so individuals on the residential or commercial property do not get harmed.

Medical Malpractice:

These claims can take place where a medical professional or healthcare professional do not meet the clinical standard of care and also subsequently a person obtains harm from this conduct.


These insurance claims might take place where either spoken or written words wound an individual’s credibility, and they are damaged as a result of the false declarations. The ordinary plaintiff typically must show that a negative, incorrect declaration was made and ultimately there was actual damage, usually in the form of financial loss. This can transform based upon your status as a celebrity or public figure. These individuals have to verify real malevolence.

Dog Bites:

These situations arise where pet dog owners can come to be financially responsible for bites or various other injuries caused by their four-legged pal. While laws may vary from one state to another, the owner is normally responsible via strict liability. Nevertheless, in some states, pets and their owners do not come to be liable unless the dog has a history of attacking and aggression.

Assault, Battery, and Other Intentional Torts:

These claims are often the most noteworthy claims, where a person hurts one more individual intentionally. These cases can be in court as a criminal instance, in addition to a civil instance. This way, they can obtain a settlement for their injuries, in addition, to punish their offender criminally.


American Bar Association



Police Brutality Lawsuits in 2020

There have been many issues that have surfaced in the year 2020, however, one of the most impactful movements that have occurred are The Black Lives Matter protests. The BLM movement started after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These protests have taken place across the United States and have included thousands of Americans speaking out against the injustices happening against the black community. The Black Lives Matter movement mirrors the Civil Rights movement that occurred during the 1960s. Those protests were in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., who was an advocate and spokesperson during the 1960’s Civil Rights movement.

“This is taking place in a world that is not only deeply fractured, but also deeply fragile because of the coronavirus, the economic crisis that makes the country look a little bit like 1929, and the existential threat of climate change,” says Burnham, university distinguished professor of law at Northeastern. “It’s everything collapsing all around us.” 

The protests that occurred during the 1960s dealt with injustices easy to see in the community, but the Black Lives Matter protests are dealing with inequalities are not as easy to see or comprehend. There is a deep-rooted issue of racism in the history of the United States. This has caused inequities in our society and does not provide equal opportunity for everyone in America. A major issue that is linked with these inequities is racial profiling that many use especially law enforcement. Below is an outline of a lawsuit that has been filed against the city of Atlanta due to excessive force used by the police. If you or a loved one has been a victim of police brutality please contact The Cochran Firm today for your FREE consultation. 

A Police Brutality Lawsuit: Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta civil rights lawyers are calling out Atlanta City Hall by filing a lawsuit against the city as police brutality cases linger, and victim’s lives hang in the ballast. Almost 20 attorneys representing victims of police brutality, and victims’ family members came together at the steps of Atlanta City Hall Monday, October 26th to voice a collective message to the City of Atlanta’s legal department. Their collective message was clear. They are infuriated and disappointed with the way the city of Atlanta is dealing with their cases. 

The lawyers are calling for accountability not only from the city legal department, who tries the cases, but also from leadership in the city such as Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and members of the City Council. The lawyers explained they filed the lawsuit due to the fact that Atlanta’s legal department will not easily participate in settlement discussions and the fact that they delay taking their lawsuits to trial. These attorneys explained that this problem is specific to Atlanta, and they have not had issues with other cities elsewhere in this context. 

The lawsuits that the attorneys discussed were civil cases brought by victims or their families against the city. Clients involved include family members of individuals who were shot and killed by police officers. The attorneys represent the families of police brutality victims Jimmy Atchison, Caine Rogers, Deaundre Phillips, Rayshard Brooks, and many others who claim the city mishandled and delayed their cases.

The families voiced that not only did they handle the cases in a disrespectful manner, but they also delayed their loved ones’ cases. The lawyers collectively have 15 active lawsuits against the city for police brutality, some of which have been pending in the system for years on end. The lawyers explained that while publicly the mayor and city council side with their clients,  privately they are going through hell to get their clients justice. 

Local Atlanta civil rights lawyer, Mawauli Davis said “There’s an injustice that continues to take place right here in City Hall.” Davis explained while the public has seen city councilmembers marching in protest, and elected officials coming to funerals, there has been no justice yet for their clients, the victims of the police brutality.

Shean Williams, a lawyer with The Cochran Firm who has five ongoing cases against the city, claimed the city has a backhanded approach to dealing with the police brutality cases. The lawyer explained while the city’s leaders such as Mayor Bottoms publicly took a stance that was sympathetic to the victims and their families, they staunchly fight those same claims in court. Williams explained, “You can’t say publicly, ‘We’re sorry, we’re outraged,’ and show compassion, but in the courtroom show the opposite.” Williams said the city fought the cases “tooth and nail in the courts.” 

This two-faced effort was emphasized throughout the press conference. Attorney Brian Spears, who has practiced law in the city since the ’70s stated that little to nothing has changed since he first began practicing. Spears expressed that this is too long and that that is not a condition that the city should be allowed to continue. 

Tomika Miller, widow of Rayshard Brooks who was shot and killed outside an Atlanta Wendy’s in June explained the city’s two-faced nature, pointing out how Mayor Bottoms attended the funeral and consoling the family in public, yet after she left the public eye, they never heard from her again. Attorney Tanya Miller, who represents the family of Jimmy Atchison, who was shot and killed by an officer in 2019 also attended the press conference. She explained that she filed a lawsuit in early October, after the city declined any settlement negotiations, and further, the officer had no criminal repercussions. 

Miller stated, “We are in essence waiting for their response.” She further explained, “The city uses every possible legal leverage, legal maneuver that they can to avoid taking responsibility for what their officers have done.” Miller asserted that while the mayor is vocal on social media about her support for these families, and has made campaign promises to work on the police brutality in the Atlanta city system, she has been hypocritical of those promises, where the city’s legal team has not been accommodating to those same families she was so vocal of supporting on her social media platforms. This illustrates the claims that the city is being two-faced regarding these trials. 

Miller states “Those placated acts seem to be the limit.” She further expressed, “We ask you to be intentional in our leadership, in this space, as you are on the campaign trail. Attorney Justin Miller explained the city’s efforts to delay these lawsuits, and avoid settlement are what extends the length of these lawsuits, some taking several years to come to an end.

Craig Jones, an attorney who has argued several cases in front of the Supreme Court, and has practiced civil rights law for over thirty years claims the city has a “split personality.” He explained that while on television, the lawyers for the city will say one thing, in court the legal team will say something completely contrasting their public statement. Jones expressed that this treatment of officers could in turn be a deterrent, making the police officers want to work somewhere else where they do have insurance coverage and are protected in case of claims of liability. 

While in some of the city’s police brutality cases, the police officers have been fired, attorneys representing victims say this scattered action is simply not enough. Attorney L. Chris Stewart explained that the issues of concern with police brutality cases were complicated by the fact that the city of Atlanta does not have insurance for its officers, and if the city were to settle a case, taxpayer dollars must pay for the settlement as opposed to a third-party insurance company. 

Shean Williams stated, “there is no reason for this city with all of this revenue, not to have insurance coverage for this city, for their officers.” The attorneys explained that while police vehicles may be insured, the officers are not. 

Therefore, one of the biggest issues addressed was that Atlanta does not insure their police officers, subsequently forcing them to fight legal battles with their own assets on the line. Attorney Chris Stewart explained in representing the family of one of the victims of police brutality, Rayshard Brooks, that he has faced situations where the city will offer up an accused officer behind closed doors, then claim the city itself is not liable. Stewart further explained, the city’s police officers may not know or realize they are uninsured. He voiced that their police car often has more insurance than they would have for a police brutality situation. To these attorneys, this does not make sense, and reform is needed in this context.

Stewart claimed that covering police officers with an insurance policy is mutually beneficial for both parties to lawsuits. He explained the police officers are out there risking their lives, and that the city should care about them enough to cover them with insurance, to benefit them and their families. Attorney Shean Williams agreed with this thought, arguing that the city has put the victims’ families seeking justice through years of red tape in the legal system.

A spokesperson for the city made a statement that the city does not comment on pending cases. However, the spokesperson did comment on the city’s insurance. The spokesperson explained that the city itself is self-insured, but it is doubtful that coverage would include police officers who have acted outside of city policies while using private insurance coverage. The city had also previously stated that the officers in some of the cases in question were not following department policy in incidents that resulted in lawsuits.

Attorneys explained that while they consistently must wait several years to reach settlements in the city of Atlanta, other cities are able to resolve their civil lawsuits in a matter of months. The attorneys pointed out many cities across the United States that have paid settlements to victims’ families. Therefore, this is not a national issue, but a regional one instead, specific to Atlanta. 

For example, the attorneys related that the city of Louisville recently agreed to pay Breonna Taylor’s family $12 million after she was killed in a raid in March involving city police officers. Attorney Shean Williams explained that while Breonna Taylor’s family has already gotten some justice, some families in Atlanta have been waiting several years waiting for the city officials to step up.

Williams also represented 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston’s family. Johnston was shot and killed in 2006 when Atlanta officers served a no-knock warrant at her home. Williams explained how the city took 4 years to reach the 4.9 million settlement, and the family had to continue to wait to be paid. 

Williams explained the extensive time they drew out the settlement and funds was even worse due to the fact that insurance did not cover the case, and the city had to use taxpayer money. The attorneys explained that this behavior has gone on for far too long, and it is simply no longer acceptable. Legal teams for the police brutality cases explained that insuring the police officers could be a key solution in resolving these issues. 

Another lawsuit awaiting justice is one that has been delayed for four years now. This is the case of Caine Rogers who was killed by an Atlanta police officer in 2016. Caine was shot while driving after he reportedly swerved to avoid an officer’s patrol car. Authorities confirmed that Caine was not affiliated or involved with any crime that the officers were responding to. The family of Rogers is hopeful but not optimistic the case will be swiftly resolved. 

Many victim’s families are discouraged by the cities delays and lack of effort in pursuing an end to these lawsuits, yet some remain optimistic. The family of Deundre Phillips is optimistic that the attorney’s actions will help push the situation and get some of these cases cleared up. Tyvonia Phillips seeks closure and justice for her son that was killed by police in 2017 during a struggle with a police officer inside of a vehicle.  

The family of Jimmie Atchison also attended the conference. Atchison was reportedly shot in the face and killed when the police found him hiding in a closet as they attempted to serve a search warrant. 

One lawsuit that has obtained some justice is the case of Rayshard Brooks. Brooks was running from the police when he was shot in the back, kicked, and offered no medical treatment. Brooks was shot when he did not pose an immediate threat of death. The police officer was charged with murder. This felony murder charge carries life in prison or the death penalty if prosecutors choose to seek it. The officer was further charged with 10 other offenses that could lead to decades punishable behind bars. 

Attorney L. Chris Stewart said that “we shouldn’t have to celebrate as African Americans when we get a piece of justice like today. We shouldn’t have to celebrate and parade when an officer is held accountable.” The charges have caused some Atlanta police officers to walk off the job, or protest in response. This illustrates the disconnect between the police and the city, and the fact that reform is desperately needed to resolve so many prevalent issues. 

While the view up until recently has been that officers are justified in using deadly force in a case in which the suspect has a weapon that could cause grievous bodily harm, some experts believe this could change. Reform could mean more training or different policies for officers in the city of Atlanta. 

A new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research says more Americans today than five years ago believe police brutality is a very serious problem that far too often goes undisciplined and unequally targets black Americans. There are hopes that this action by local civil rights attorneys will create reform on behalf of city officials to move forward with these brutality cases, as well as enact reform measures to make sure these cases do not repeat themselves. There are hopes for the city to ensure police officers individually as well to help move cases forward. 


1. AJC: sent to us ab

2. 11alive

3. CBS

4. GDB

5. 7 News