Shigley continues on board of Institute for Continuing Legal Education

Ken Shigley

Shigley on board of Institute for Continuing Legal Education

Kenneth L. Shigley , an Atlanta personal injury attorney, continues on the board of the Institute for Continuing Legal Education(ICLE), on which he has served since 2008. Mr. Shigley previously served as Chairman of the Board. He is also a former president of the State Bar of Georgia and received the “Traditions of Excellence” Award from the Bar in 2019.

The Georgia Institute of Continuing Legal Education is a not-for-profit educational service of the State Bar of Georgia and is responsible for providing continuing legal education for all lawyers in the State of Georgia. The Institute is a consortium of the Bar and the Law Schools of the Universities of Georgia, Emory, Mercer, Georgia State, and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to attain three board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy, in Truck Accident Law (2019), Civil Pretrial Practice (2012) and Civil Trial Advocacy (1995). He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice (Thomson Reuters West, 2010-20), former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway and Premises Liability Section, and has been a speaker or program chair at continuing legal education programs throughout Georgia and the United States since 1994. With this background, Shigley continues on board of Institute for Continuing Legal Education after twelve years of service on the board.

The Institute provides over 300 seminars, webinars, and video seminars to the members of the State Bar of Georgia each year. The Supreme Court of Georgia requires that every active member of the State Bar successfully complete at least 12 hours of legal education in order to maintain their license to practice law. The twelve trustees of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education are charged with the responsibility of developing programs and instituting policies that will provide legal education for members of the State Bar of Georgia.

Mr. Shigley may be contacted for consultation on cases of wrongful death and serious personal injury at (404)253-7862.

7 things you need to know about your herniated cervical disc injury

Some idiot who wasn’t paying attention slammed into your car. You had what you first thought was “just a whiplash.” That hurt, but you thought you could just laugh it off and your neck injury would be ok in a few days.

But over time it just hurt worse. Pain, numbness and tingling radiated down one or both shoulders and arms.

Eventually, a doctor had you slide into a long, noisy metal tube for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. Now your doctor says you have something called a herniated disc that will require a lot more treatment than you ever imagined.

What do you need to know?

  1. Know your cervical spine anatomy.

Your spine is a stack of 33 interlocking bones called vertebra, processes, and coccyx (tailbone). Your spinal cord runs from your brain down the middle of this stack of vertebrae to nerves that branch off to your arms, legs, and various body parts.

Your neck (cervical spine) supports your head, which weighs about 10 pounds, regardless of the amount of knowledge the brain does or does not hold. As your head rotates, the cervical spine has the most range of motion of any part of the spine.

The cervical spine includes seven vertebrae numbered C1 to C7. The first vertebra (C1) is ring-shaped and connects directly to the skull. This joint allows for the nodding (“yes” motion) of the head. The second vertebra (C2) is a peg-shaped axis, with a projection called the odontoid, around which the atlas pivots. This joint enables you to make the side-to-side or “no” motion of your head.

  1. Know your vertebral anatomy.

Every vertebra in the spine has three main parts: a drum-shaped bone designed to bear weight and withstand compression, an arch-shaped bone that protects the spinal cord, and star-shaped processes that serve as outriggers for muscle attachments.

Between the bony vertebrae are spongy cushions called intervertebral discs that serve as shock absorbers, keeping the bones from rubbing together. Discs are often compared to a radial car tire. An outer ring called the annulus contains crisscrossing fibrous bands sort of like the tire tread. Inside each disc is a gel-filled center called the nucleus sort of like tire tube.

Another popular analogy is to compare a disc to a jelly donut, with the annulus compared to the bread and the nucleus to the jelly.

On the back of each vertebra are projections of bone that form the vertebral arch, which consists of two supporting bones called pedicles and two layers of tissue called laminae. Within the spinal canal are the spinal cord, ligaments, fat, and blood vessels. Beneath each pedicle, a pair of spinal nerves exit emerge from the spinal cord and go through openings called foramen to branch out through your body.

Connecting vertebrae are facet joints that allow movement of the spine. Each vertebra has four facet joints, two attaching to the vertebra above (superior facets), and two that connect to the vertebra below (inferior facets.)

Wiring all this together are ligaments, tough bands that connect the vertebrae, protect the discs, and stabilize the spine. The three principal ligaments of the spine are the anterior longitudinal ligament (ALL), ligamentum flavum, and posterior longitudinal ligament (PLL).

  1. Know the anatomy of your spinal cord and spinal nerves.

The spinal cord is the thickness of your thumb and runs about 18 inches from the brainstem to the first lumbar vertebra protected within the spinal canal. Any damage to the spinal cord can cause paralysis and loss of sensation below the level of injury.  A spinal cord injury in the cervical spine (neck) may cause quadriplegia (also called tetraplegia), total or partial loss of both motor and sensory in the arms and legs. A spinal cord injury to the thoracic or lumbar area may cause paraplegia, the loss of motor and sensory function in the legs and trunk.

Branching off the spinal cord are 31 pairs of spinal nerves. These act as “telephone lines” carrying messages back and forth between various body parts and the spinal cord, and thence to the brain, to control sensation and movement. The front (ventral) root carries motor impulses from the brain and the back (dorsal) root carries sensory impulses to the brain. The spinal nerves go down the spinal canal alongside the spinal cord, until reaching the intervertebral foramen from which is exits to communicate with the appropriate body parts.

Once a spinal nerve passes through the intervertebral foramen, it forms two branches. The smaller branch (posterior primary ramus) turns toward the back to supply the skin and muscles of the back of the body. The larger branch (anterior primary ramus) turns the opposite direction to the skin and muscles of the front of your body. The spinal nerves are numbered by the vertebrae above which they exit the spinal canal. The eight cervical spinal nerves are numbered C1 through C8.

The spinal nerves communicate sensory and motor messages with specific areas that form a striped pattern across the body called dermatomes. Doctors use dermatome patterns to diagnose the location of a spinal problem based on the area of pain or muscle weakness.

  1. Know about disc bulges and herniations.

As we age, the annulus in all those intervertebral discs begins to dry out and become less flexible. That natural degeneration happens to everyone, often without causing any pain. Many senior athletes have spines that would look like forty miles of bad road in an MRI image but can run marathons and triathlons just fine.

With age and reduced flexibility, we become more vulnerable to disc injuries with any sort of trauma. It can be as simple as lifting something heavy or sudden twists and turns.

Often, however, people go along in life just fine despite silent degeneration in the spine until a trauma, such as is common in a motor vehicle collision involving sudden kinetic forces greater than encountered in daily life.

The mechanism of injury in a rear-end collision “whiplash” includes head acceleration backward and forward, pressure on nerve root ganglia, stretching of facet capsules, or damage to facet articular cartilage. Studies of the biomechanics of kinetic forces demonstrate four mechanisms of injury in rear-impact collisions. These include vertebral intersegmental rotations, facet capsule shearing, facet pinching, and rapid increase of pressure around the cervical nerve roots. All these occur suddenly and simultaneously. The angle of head rotation at the time of impact can surprisingly decrease the extent of the injury. The neck’s response to whiplash-type impacts is modified by impact awareness, muscles studied, and direction of impact. The peak bending moment of the lower neck and the peak angular acceleration of the head are predictors for the risk of neck injury in a rear-end collision.

The kinetic forces in any form of auto collision – rear end, sideswipe, t-bone or head-on – can injury intervertebral discs.  Many factors in collisions affect the extent of the injury, including the direction of impact, impact velocity, change in velocity (i.e. delta-v), restraint use or misuse, and the presence or absence of airbags. Cervical (neck) disc injuries are most common in rear-end and sideswipe collisions.

When collision forces cause damage to the annulus of a disc, the nucleus can push out, creating a disc bulge that presses on a spinal nerve serving a specific area of the body. When the nucleus oozes out the annulus, like jelly squirting out of a jelly donut, it can compress on one or more nerves can cause radiculopathy — severe pain, numbness, tingling, and even loss of motor function. This is a herniated disc, also known as a “slipped disc.”

Cervical radiculopathy occurs when a herniated disc in your neck compresses or irritates a nerve in your neck that emerges from your spinal cord. This nerve compression can cause pain that radiates into your shoulder, and muscle weakness and numbness radiating down through your arm and hand.

When a herniated disc pinches the spinal cord, this may lead to symptoms referred to as myelopathy. Symptoms of cervical myelopathy include neck and arm pain, tingling and numbness, and problems with your fine motor functions such as threading a needle, buttoning a shirt, or writing.  When a herniated disc compresses both exiting nerves and the spinal cord that is referred to as myeloradiculopathy. Cervical myelopathy can cause an unsteady gait, loss of body consciousness of whether your hands and feet are, and in severe cases weakness of arms and legs and loss of bladder and bowel control.

  1. Know about non-surgical treatments for cervical disc herniations.

Surgery is not the first option unless there is an emergency, such as a disc pinching the spinal cord causing weakness. Because conservative, non-surgical treatments can take a long time and involve a lot of pain in the interim, people who require immediate surgery sometimes consider themselves fortunate by comparison.

Conservative, non-surgical treatments for cervical disc injuries include:

  • Medications:
    • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Ibuprofen medications such as Advil and Motrin and COX-2 inhibitors  such as Celebrex help reduce pain due to
    • Drugs such as Depo-Medrol (methylprednisolone) may be taken as pills to reduce inflammation over the course of a week.
    • Muscle relaxants. Muscle spasm in the area of a disc herniation can cause pain, so muscle relaxers help to alleviate that.
    • Anti-depressants. Tricyclic antidepressants, known by several brand names, can reduce nerve pain and aid sleep.
    • Medications intended primarily to control seizures may also alleviate nerve pain caused by a herniated cervical disc.
    • Opioids. These heavy-duty pain medications are sued for severe pain from a herniated disc, but as addictive drugs must be used only for limited times and with select patients.
  • Physical therapy and other conservative treatments.
    • Physical therapy.  Exercises to stretch your neck muscles may help reduce the pain of a herniated disc.
    • Limitation of painful activity.  When you have a herniated cervical disc, your doctor or physical therapist may advise you to avoid heavy lifting, overhead reaching, and neck rotation which may exacerbate pain in the period following a disc herniation.
    • Neck braces. While often lampooned in jokes about “phony” whiplash injuries, a cervical brace or soft cervical collar provide some rest for the cervical spine.
  • Epidural Steroid Injection involves the injection of an anti-inflammatory steroid space next to discs. An epidural steroid injection can treat pain at several levels in the spine. The purpose is to decrease inflammation directly around the affected nerve roots and behind the discs. Often medical and insurance company protocols require a series of two or three epidural steroid injections before scheduling surgery.
  • Nerve Root Block involves the injection of an anesthetic to relieve pain and pinpoint the location of the irritated nerve for diagnostic purposes.

For a person who is accustomed to an active lifestyle, the long journey of these conservative treatments can be a maddening diminution of the overall quality of life.

  1. Know about your cervical disc surgical options.

When and if all else fails, physicians will discuss with you surgical options for treatment of your herniated cervical disc.

  • Cervical nerve root rhizotomy is a percutaneous neural destructive technique that uses radiofrequency pulses to numb sensory nerve tissues that come from the muscles and enter the spinal cord to reduce neck pain. Once inactivated, the nerves cannot conduct pain sensations to the brain, thus decreasing or eliminating the pain completely. A cervical dorsal root rhizotomy may be used as pinched nerve treatment or to help relieve cervical neck pain. This is a minimally invasive procedure that provides symptomatic pain relief for many patients but is not the ultimate answer for a fully herniated disc.
  • ACDF: Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion is perhaps the most common form of neck surgery for herniated cervical discs. It involves removal of the damaged disc, relieving pressure on the spinal cord or nerve root pressure. By taking away that pressure on the nerve, it and reduce re;ated pain, weakness, numbness, and tingling. You will sleep through this surgery under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make a horizontal incision two or three inches long in the front of your neck, and work through that opening.

ACDF surgery has two parts:

  • Anterior cervical discectomy. Going in from the anterior, or front, of the cervical spine (neck), the surgeon removes the disc from between two vertebrae.
  • Fusion. A fusion of vertebrae is done at the same time as the discectomy to stabilize that portion of the cervical spine.  Fusion involves placing bone graft or implants where the disc originally was to provide stability and strength to the area. ACDF may at one or more levels of the cervical spine.

Traditionally, the fusion was done with a plug of bone taken from the patient’s pelvis, called autograft bone. Patients often complained that pain at the donor site in the hip was much worse than pain in the neck.

The most common ACDF procedure today is the use of allograft bone from a bone bank, harvested from a cadaver. Because there is no living tissue in the allograft bone graft, so there is little chance of graft rejection, like with an organ transplant. The speed of healing may be slower with allograft bone, particularly if there are multiple levels of vertebrae to be fused, and there is a very slight risk of disease transmission, roughly 1 in 200,000 to 1 in one million.

There are also manufactured bone graft substitutes that have no potential for disease transmission but do carry risks of inflammatory reactions.

With any of these fusion methods, doctors often secure the vertebra with metal plates and screws.

Cervical fusion and fixation eliminate flexion in that part of the cervical spine. As a result, the levels above and below the fusion encounter more significant stress over time, potentially accelerating degeneration of the discs above and below the fusion, also known as adjacent level disease.

Cervical disc replacement surgery involves implantation of a manufactured artificial disc.   Artificial discs are made of very hard plastic and metal, are attached to e adjacent vertebrae, and can mimic the normal motion of the intervertebral discs.In comparison to spinal fusion surgery, the potential benefits of artificial disc technology include more spine mobility after surgery and less stress on adjacent discs. Artificial discs are especially popular with younger and more athletic patients who look forward to  many active years.

Several artificial discs are currently being used in Europe. As these gain approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, options for disc replacement surgery are continually increasing.

While artificial cervical discs can preserve motion at the operated segment in most patients, their durability over a patient’s life expectancy and effectiveness in reducing the rate of deterioration adjacent cervical levels are not yet entirely clear.

  1. Know about permanent impairment ratings.

Even after your entirely successful treatment for a herniated cervical disc, you will have some degree of permanent impairment as measured by the American Medical Association Guides to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. The AMA Guides provide an objective framework for quantifying permanent impairment in patients who have an injury resulting in long-term loss of a body part or body function.

An impairment rating is not the same thing as a disability. A person may have a reasonably high impairment rating but still enjoy a full, active, productive life. Conversely, one may have ongoing pain and functional limitations that impede the quality of life but do not translate into a comparable impairment rating.

Impairment ratings are more significant in determining settlements in workers compensation claims than in car crash liability cases. However, even a small percentage of impairment rating may be presented to a jury as validation of a “thorn in the flesh” in assessing pain and suffering.

In cases of herniated cervical discs, there is a range of potential impairment ratings, briefly and incompletely summarized as follows:

  • 5% to 8% impairment of the whole person. Cervical disc herniation with radiculopathy improved after non-operative treatment.
  • 15% to 18% impairment of the whole person. Cervical disc herniation with radiculopathy improved after surgery.
  • 25% to 28% impairment of the whole person. Loss of segmental integrity or loss motion after an attempt at surgical repair.
  • 35% to 38% impairment of the whole person. Significant upper extremity impairment requiring the use of external functional or adaptive devices, due to total neurological loss at a single level or severe, multilevel neurologic dysfunction.

 We have decades of experience litigating cases involving neck and back injuries, including herniated cervical discs, cervical fusion surgeries, and impairment ratings. If you or a loved one have a herniated cervical disc due to someone else’s negligence, call us at 404-253-7862.


 

Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident Law. He is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West.

His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation, and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2020, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994).

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower, father of two adult children, and an elder in his church. When time permits, he enjoys travel, backpacking, and scuba diving.

America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys®

 

Top 100 Personal Injury Lawyers

Top 100 Personal Injury Lawyers

Kenneth L. Shigley, Sr., of Atlanta, Georgia, has been named one of America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys ® for 2020.

Selection to America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys® is by invitation only and is reserved to identity the nation’s most exceptional litigators for high-value personal injury, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice matters.
To be considered for selection, an attorney must focus more than 50% of their active legal practice on personal injury, catastrophic injury, wrongful death, product liability, and/or medical malpractice matters. These minimum qualifications are required for initial consideration. Thereafter, candidates are carefully screened through Advanced Data Analytics evaluating a broad array of criteria, including the candidate’s professional experience, litigation experience, significant personal injury settlements and/or verdicts, peer reputation, and community impact in order to rank the candidates throughout the state.

Only the top 100 qualifying attorneys in each state will receive this honor and be selected for membership among America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys®. With these extremely high standards for selection to America’s Top 100 Personal Injury Attorneys®, less than one-half percent (0.5%) of active attorneys in the United States will receive this honor — truly the most exclusive and elite level of attorneys in the community.

Mr. Shigley’s qualifications include:

Kenneth L. Shigley

Ken Shigley – Top 100 Personal Injury Lawyers

  • President, State Bar of Georgia, 2011-12
  • Tradition of Excellence Award for lifetime achievement, 2019
  • First Georgia lawyer to earn three board certifications from National Board of Trial Advocacy (Truck Accident Law, Civil Trial Practice, Civil Pretrial Practice)
  • Chair, American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, 2015-16
  • Lead Author, Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation & Practice
  • Chair, Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, 2012-13
  • Georgia “Super Lawyer” (since 2004)
  • “AV Preeminent” rating in Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory (since 1989)
  • Avvo 10.0 out of 10.0

See representative verdicts and settlements.

Wrongful death claims in Georgia

Wrongful death claims in Georgia are necessarily emotional. When a family member is killed by someone else’s negligence, grieving survivors often have mixed feelings about filing a wrongful death lawsuit for that death. Certainly no amount of money can bring the departed loved one back. However, a monetary award is the only way that civil law has to recognize the value of the life, compensate for the death, and penalize the party at fault.

Skillful legal advocacy in a wrongful death case can generate funds to care for the family’s real needs and with which the family may appropriately memorialize the life of the departed. Within the requirements of allocation of damages to the spouse and children, survivors can choose to put a monetary award for wrongful death to any good use, whether to support a family deprived of the breadwinner, to educate children, or to fund a charity in the memory of the deceased.

Georgia’s wrongful death law was first enacted before the Civil War. It is one of the most humane wrongful death statutes and body of case law in the United States. Georgia law on wrongful death differs significantly from the wrongful death laws of all neighboring states. In most ways the Georgia law is better, but not always. If the facts provide a choice among different states, we weigh all the options as to where a case should be filed. Under multijurisdictional practice rules, we can handle all matters prior to filing suit in court in all but two states. When necessary to file suit in a state other than Georgia, we associate local counsel and obtain admission to practice pro hac vice in the other state.

In Georgia there are two separate claims that can be made for a death.

“Wrongful death” claim for full value of the life.

First is a wrongful death claim for the full value of life which belongs to survivors designated by statute: spouse, children, parent, or heirs at law depending on the circumstances. It defines the “full value of the life”   of the person who died to include both economic and intangible aspects. Georgia law does not mandate any rigid formula or arbitrary on the damages awarded in a wrongful death case, but rather the “full value of the life” is determined by the enlightened conscience of an impartial jury. Unlike some states, however, the subjective grief of the survivors is not part of the calculation of damages.

The economic aspects of “full value of the life” include the projected lifetime income and benefits and the value of their uncompensated services to family and community, reduced to present value.

In determining the intangible aspect of “full value of the life”  fair and impartial jurors are guided by their “enlightened conscience” in assessing the quality of life, relationships, activities, passions and pursuits, and determine what the experience of living was worth to that person who died. The intangible value of life is not reduced to present value.

“Survival action” for the estate of the deceased.

Second is what courts call a “survival action” because the rights of the decedent survive the death and belong to the estate of the deceased. That claim may be pursued by the executor or administer seeking compensation for the pain and suffering  before death plus the medical and funeral expense. Separate from the wrongful death claim on behalf of designated beneficiaries, the administrator or executor of the decedent’s estate has a claim for the decedent’s medical and funeral expenses, and for conscious pain and suffering before death.

Punitive damages may be awarded in connection with such a survival action on behalf of the estate but not for the wrongful death claim. Experienced legal counsel can weigh the factors in deciding whether to include a punitive damages claim.

Where the decedent died almost immediately after impact but could see what was about to happen, a claim for the mental pain of recognizing impending death may have great value. In appropriate cases, an accident reconstruction can help establish how much time the person had to recognize impending doom before being killed.

The decedent’s family members may choose to pursue both claims or only one of them depending on what makes the most sense under the circumstances. It is entirely appropriate in Georgia for the family, with experienced legal counsel, to pursue both claims, or to choose to file one claim and abandon the other.

Effect of liens.

Medical liens are often a factor in deciding what claims to include in a lawsuit. Liens for medical bills and other debts of the decedent apply to an estate’s claim but not to the wrongful death claim of survivors designated by statute. If there is limited insurance coverage and medical liens, survivors may decide to pursue only the wrongful death claim which is not subject to such liens, or to allocate all but a token amount of a settlement to the wrongful death claim. If liability insurance is ample and liens are light, however, it may be worthwhile to include the estate’s claims.

Valuation.

Because valuation of a wrongful death claim is affected by many factors, including disputed issues of liability, contributory negligence, comparative negligence, assumption of risk, proximate causation and insurance coverage considerations, it is important not to confuse the value of a case with the true value of the departed loved one’s life. We have handled wrongful death cases in which the recovery was $8,000,000 and others in which the recovery was $250,000 or less, all dependent upon the interplay of facts, insurance, and legal issues.

Who has the right to sue for wrongful death?

We often receive inquiries from family members whose rights to recover for wrongful death of a deceased family member are severed by operation of law. Sometimes we can work around these challenges, but sometimes not. It is important to get all close relatives of the deceased on the same page, but if the family is splintered and dysfunctional that can be virtually impossible.

A wrongful death claim in Georgia belongs to survivors who are identified by statute:

– A surviving spouse has the right to sue for wrongful death in Georgia, but must share the recovery equally with surviving children of the decedent. Where the surviving spouse is required to share a wrongful death recovery with the decedent’s minor child, the child’s share up to $15,000 may be held by the child’s natural guardian without posting a bond. If a minor child’s share of the recovery is $15,000 or more, a guardian of the child’s property must be qualified in probate court, and a bond posted. The bond requirement may be avoided if the probate court approves a structured settlement with annuity payments going to the child after attaining age 18, with the cash held by the child’s natural guardian remaining less than $15,000.

– If there is no surviving spouse, the right goes to surviving children. If the surviving spouse is missing, a court may permit the children to pursue the death claim alone.

– If there is neither a spouse nor child surviving, then the decedent’s parents have the right to sue under Georgia law. If the parents of a deceased child are divorced or living apart, the trial court has full discretion to allocate the wrongful death recovery between them, considering any pertinent factors. There have been cases of an uninvolved absentee father being limited to as little as one half of one percent of the total recovery for the wrongful death of a child.

– In the absence of a surviving spouse, child or parent, the administrator of the decedent’s estate can sue on behalf of the next of kin. Even if the next of kin is a minor, e.g., a sibling, an anomaly in current Georgia law requires that an administrator file suit on behalf of the minor beneficiary within two years from the date of death rather than tolling that time limit due to the child’s age.

Call us today at our Atlanta office 404-253-7862 or submit your inquiry online, and find out if we can help.


Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident Law. He is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2020, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower, father of two adult children, and an elder in his church. When time permits, he enjoys travel, backpacking and scuba diving.

 

Civil immunity for Covered Countermeasures in fight against COVID-19

COVID-19 has thrust us into a global crisis unprecedented in the century since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19. It is not merely disruptive in our daily routines. It involves life, death and enormous hardship in massive scale, probably for a prolonged time.  In this new reality, some of the routines dealing with individual injury cases may be eclipsed by a near term future we did not anticipate just a few weeks ago.

The “new normal” after the end of this pandemic is impossible to discern. Some pundits have emphasized hope that after the entire population passes this crucible of shared hardship and existential threat, we might emerge a kinder, more empathetic, more cooperative and public spirited nation, less torn by toxic partisanship. This will be the central formative experience for the generation forced home from school. Despite some examples of irresponsible spring break conduct, some guess that this may lead to a “Greatest Generation 2.0” in response to shared crisis. Others fearfully predict a dystopian future reminiscent of a Mad Max movie. Reality may be somewhere between those two visions.

One thing is certain. As with every cataclysmic event, legal controversies will flow from this crisis.

Already there is a declaration from the Secretary of Health and Human Services providing immunity from liability for certain individuals and entities against covered claims of loss relating to the manufacture, distribution, administration, or use of medical countermeasures (“Covered Countermeasures”), except for claims involving “willful misconduct.” This was done under the authority of the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2005 (“PREP Act”), codified at 42 U.S.C. §247d-6d, and is retroactively effective beginning February 4, 2020.  Tthere precedent supporting this immunity. See, e.g., Parker v. St. Lawrence County Pub. Health Dept., 102 A.D.3d 140 (3rd Dep’t 2012) (finding federal preemption over Plaintiff’s state law claim based on the unconsented vaccination of a minor during the H1N1 epidemic).

This immunity from liability applies to manufacturers, distributors, program managers, “qualified persons” (any person authorized to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute or dispense the Covered Countermeasures), and their officials, agents, and employees authorized to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute or dispense any antiviral, drug, biologic, or vaccine used to treat, diagnose, cure, prevent, or mitigate COVID-19, the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, or a virus mutating therefrom, or “any device used in the administration of any such product, and all components and constituent materials of any such product.”

Activities covered by this immunity from liability include manufacturing, testing, development, distribution, administration, and use of the Covered Countermeasures.

The COVID-19 Declaration is effective as of February 4, 2020 through October 2024, unless extended.

The purpose of the COVID-19 Declaration  is to permit the special use of drugs and other medical products during the COVID-19 pandemic that either have not yet been approved/cleared by the FDA or may be used off-label without the risk of liability in the event of a covered injury or loss. Under the PREP Act, if there are injuries as a result of Covered Countermeasures relating to a public health emergency, the relief available can be found via the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (“CICP”), which is charged with establishing a fund for such injuries.

“Covered Countermeasures” include anything used against the pandemic or against adverse events from these products, including antivirals, drugs, biologics, diagnostics, devices, vaccines used to treat, diagnose, cure, prevent, or mitigate COVID-19, or the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 or a virus mutating therefrom, or any device used in the administration of any such product, and all components and constituent materials. These must be a qualified pandemic or epidemic product authorized for investigation or emergency use as defined in the PREP Act, the Food and Drug Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), and the Public Health Service Act (“PHSA”).

The scope of immunity is not all-encompassing or absolute. Key limitations/qualifications on immunity protection are:

  1. Some form of premarket approval is required. The Covered Countermeasure must be approved or cleared by the FDA under the FDCA; licensed under the PHSA; or authorized for emergency use by the FDA under applicable provisions of the FDCA.
  2. Must be qualified pandemic or epidemic products, security countermeasures, or drugs, biologics, or devices authorized for emergency or investigational use.
  3. Only for “recommended activities” involving Covered Countermeasures related to present or future federal contracts or other federal transactions or agreements, or activities authorized by authorities with jurisdiction to prescribe, administer, deliver, distribute, or dispense Covered Countermeasures following an emergency declaration.
  4. Does not apply to death or serious physical injury caused by willful misconduct.
  5. Not available for foreign claims.
  6. Claim must arise from conduct that is directly related to the development/distribution of a Covered Countermeasure.

We may reasonably anticipate that bad things will happen, and sneaky people will claim immunity to which they are not legitimately entitled.  Those issues will be fought out in court.

——————

Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2020, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.

Recently he moved his  law practice to the Atlanta law firm of Johnson & Ward. He may be contacted at 404-253-7862.

How does the COVID-19 pandemic emergency declaration affect truck crash cases?

History is replete with episodes of epidemics  that devastated cities, nations, and civilizations. Bubonic plague, cholera, smallpox and influenza have killed untold hundreds of millions in waves of devastation over the millennia. Now we see the approach of a Category 5 hurricane of a pandemic called COVID-19, praying that it will not be as bad as predicted.

The worst effect will the many deaths and serious but not fatal illnesses. Prediction vary wildly of how many Americans will be infected, how many of those will become ill, and how many will die. But it is becoming clear that for at least a couple of months, and perhaps much longer, our lives will be radically altered through “social distancing,” school closings, working from home, devastating losses to retail stores, restaurants and other business, etc.

To keep hospitals supplied, grocery stores stocked, fuel tanks filled, mail and online purchases delivered, trucks must keep running. As any trucker will tell you, if a truck doesn’t deliver it, you don’t get it. We should appreciate the work good truckers do.

The frequency of truck crashes may decrease during the period of pandemic emergency simply because overall traffic is reduced. If many people are working at home and travel is almost eliminated, there will be fewer cars that could be hit by tired truckers.

But there will trucking accidents anyway. Understanding of how trucking rules are changed due to the state of emergency is important when we are called upon to represent victims in those crashes.

Under President Trump’s Emergency Declaration, rules governing motor carriers and drivers are temporarily changed in several significant ways if they are providing direct assistance in support of relief efforts. Direct assistance includes deliveries needed for immediate restoration of essential services, such as medical care, or essential supplies such as food, related to COVID-19 outbreaks during the emergency.

This Emergency Declaration provides regulatory relief for commercial motor vehicle operations that are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, including transportation to meet immediate needs for:

(1) medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19;

(2) supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of community transmission of COVID-19 such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap and disinfectants;

(3) food for emergency restocking of stores;

(4) equipment, supplies and persons necessary to establish and manage temporary housing, quarantine, and isolation facilities related to COVID-19;

(5) persons designated by Federal, State or local authorities for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes; and

(6) persons necessary to provide other medical or emergency services, the supply of which may be affected by the COVID-19 response.

Direct assistance does not include routine commercial deliveries, or transportation of mixed loads that include essential supplies, equipment and persons, along with supplies, equipment and persons that are not being transported in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.

Direct assistance terminates when a driver or commercial motor vehicle is used in interstate commerce to transport cargo or provide services that are not in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks or when the motor carrier dispatches a driver or commercial motor vehicle to another location to begin operations in commerce. 49 CFR 390.23(b).

Upon termination of direct assistance to emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks, the motor carrier and driver are subject to the regular safety rules limiting work hours to mitigate fatigue, except that a driver may return empty to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal work reporting location.

However, if the driver informs the motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest, the driver must be permitted at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before the driver is required to return to the motor carrier’s terminal or the driver’s normal reporting location.

Once the driver has returned to the terminal or other location, the driver must be relieved of all duty and responsibilities and must receive a minimum of 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and 8 hours if transporting passengers.

Nothing contained in the Emergency Declaration can be construed as an exemption from the controlled substances and alcohol use and testing requirements, the commercial driver’s license requirements, the financial responsibility (insurance) requirements, the hazardous material regulations, size and weight requirements, or any other portion of the regulations not specifically exempted under to 49 CFR § 390.23.

Motor carriers or drivers already subject to an out-of-service order are not eligible for the relief granted by this declaration until they have met the applicable conditions for its rescission and the order has been rescinded by FMCSA.

When catastrophic truck crashes do happen during the pandemic emergency, many of the rule violations that we use to establish accountability will not be applicable. However, we will know where to focus. A few preliminary thoughts about how to proceed when we are hired by the victims (and their survivors) of catastrophic truck crashes in the time of pandemic:

  1. While maintaining social distancing to prevent spread of the virus, interview clients and witnesses through videoconferencing technology, e.g., Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger video chat.
  2. Download police crash reports through BuyCrash.
  3. Send records retention letters, by email when possible, tweaked to recognize the changed circumstances. The usual “spoliation” letters will be altered to focus on what freight was being transported to determine whether the emergency exemptions to normal rules may apply. Anticipate that insurance companies may seek to portray every delivery as an emergency delivery, even if it is not, so be prepared to pierce through any misrepresentations.
  4. If a temporary restraining order (TRO) is needed to preserve evidence, e-file it and contact the presiding judge of superior court in the subject county by phone and email. Draft the TRO to allow more time than usual and protocols to preserve social distancing. I would argue that the Declaration of Judicial Emergency by Georgia’s Chief Justice Melton implicitly supports extending the usual time limits in TRO’s. At the same time, anticipate the argument that in time of emergency the trucking company may need to get its equipment back into service to make emergency relief deliveries.
  5. Stretch out timelines for litigation, e-filing lawsuits in a manner to allow ample time for extending deadlines.
  6. When filing suit, e-file early and allow plenty of time to complete service of process. Consider use of requests for waiver of service delivered by email using delivery and read receipts, and perhaps with longer than the usual minimum 30 days time allowed for response and stating an extended time filing an answer in court.
  7. Until the pandemic ends, prepare to use video conferencing for any conferences, depositions and hearings.

Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2019, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.

Effective January 2, 2020, he moved his existing law practice to the Atlanta law firm of Johnson & Ward. He may be contacted at 404-253-7862. 

 

A calling to transform lives

Transformation of  lives of clients and their families is part of my calling in law practice. While money is the quantitative measure of success, whenever possible I also try to guide outcomes in a way that will redirect the trajectory of life for clients and their families. A recent case is a good example.

Recently we handled a case for a 30-year-old single mom from a less than privileged background. She had struggled to put herself through a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. When injured, she was working as a CNA and living paycheck-to-paycheck with her daughter in a modest apartment. Then,  in a catastrophic crash she lost a leg at the knee. After three years of litigation, our team recovered roughly $6.5 million for her.

Many lawyers would just cut a check for the net proceeds after deduction of fees, expenses and liens, and say, “good luck.”  Too often we hear stories of people who come into a large amount of money and in a couple of years are broke. That is not our approach.

When people come into an unaccustomed amount of money, friends, relatives and new lovers often appear on the scene with “great ideas” for use of the money. Without careful management, the funds that were intended to take care of a victim for life soon evaporate.

This young woman’s settlement is illustrative of what we try to do when possible. The bulk of her money was placed in a trust to protect her from  creditors and predators.

A portion of the funds were used to buy this “forever home” which will be held in her trust. It is a lovely house in a safe neighborhood, built in 1937 but completely updated. Renovations include an open floor plan, handicapped accessibility, and new plumbing, electric, HVAC, roof, siding, windows and floors. It is a good place to raise her child.

She will also use a portion of her recovery to return to school with a goal of becoming a Registered Nurse (R.N.). I expect that with a great heart and her life experience with catastrophic injury, she will be a blessing in the lives of many of her future patients.

Her increased financial capacity will also, I expect, improve the life prospects of her daughter.

I hope that she finds love again. If so, the trust will be a buffer against the temptation to let a future love to mismanage and erode her funds.

We have had many cases over the years in which lives were transformed for the better. Examples include:

  • A  bright 13-year-old girl had a case for the death of her father. She was about to enter eighth grade at an inner city school. With her mother, she chose a structured settlement that would fund her education first at an elite prep school, and then through college and graduate school. After completing her education she would also get a lump sum sufficient for a down payment on her own home. That set a new trajectory at a critical point in her life.
  • When the oldest child in a family with several children was killed in a tractor trailer crash, we recovered for the parents the funds to pay for college of the younger children.
  • When another single mom who worked all day at a keyboard had an injury that made that impracticable, we got enough money to fund the business she had always dreamed of starting.

We don’t always get this satisfying an outcome. Some financially unsophisticated clients resist efforts to help in ways other than purely monetary. Some of them run through their money and are broke again within a few years. If that happens, at least we warned them in writing about that potential and tried to counsel them.

There are other clients who clearly have enough experience and sophistication that I don’t worry about their ability to handle money.  Examples include:

  • A small business owner who has demonstrated ability to manage his business and finances. He used his injury settlement to expand his going business.
  • A couple who were already working with a financial adviser. They used their confidential settlement to advance their retirement by a couple of years and become more active in charitable work in their community.
  • An 18-year-old who took the initiative before settlement of his case to set up a meeting with a wealth management officer at a financial institution. He authorized the broker to send me copies of monthly statements until he finished college, then began his  own career in the financial services industry.

This is not just a job. It is a calling to transform lives.


Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2019, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.

Effective January 2, 2020, he moved his existing law practice to the Atlanta law firm of Johnson & Ward. He may be contacted at 404-253-7862. 

 

Ethylene oxide emissions from Sterigenics plants in Smyrna & Covington linked to cancer

Image result for ethylene oxide

Ethylene oxide

Sterigenics plants in Smyrna and Covington, Georgia, have long used ethylene oxide in sterilization of medical equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency air assessment from last year found several census tracts around those plants had significantly increased cancer risks due to ethylene oxide. The EPA recently concluded that the gas is dangerous at lower levels than previously believed.

Ethylene oxide is an organic compound with the formula C2H4O. A colorless and flammable gas with a faintly sweet odor, it has many uses in industry but is not safe for household use. At room temperature it is a flammable, carcinogenicmutagenic, irritating, and anaesthetic gas.

There is evidence from both human and animal studies that inhalation exposure to ethylene oxide can result in a wide range of carcinogenic effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies ethylene oxide into group 1, meaning it is a proven carcinogenEthylene oxide is classified as a class 2 carcinogen by the German MAK commission and as a class A2 carcinogen by the ACGIH. A 2003 study of  women exposed to the chemical while working in commercial sterilization facilities suggests ethylene oxide is associated with breast cancer incidence.

In 2015, Sterigenics reported emissions ethylene oxide from its Smyrna plant of  3,574 pounds. After federal regulators definitively linked ethylene oxide to cancer in humans in 2016, the company’s self-reported emissions of the chemical dropped to 226 pounds.

Due to past emissions data submitted by Sterigenics, t the federal Environmental Protection Agency to project an elevated risk of cancer in surrounding neighborhoods. Similar cancer clusters were reported near a Sterigenics plant in the Chicago area.

All cases involving cancer allegedly caused by chemical exposures are highly complex and involved an enormous amount of scientific analysis and expert witness testimony. These are not intersection collision cases.

We have begun to sign up Sterigenics cancer cases as victims and their survivors from the neighborhoods surrounding these plants have contacted us. As with any case involving complex science, we work with an experienced team to properly analyze and develop the scientific and medical evidence.


Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2019, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.

New blood test may aid rapid diagnosis of traumatic brain injury

For decades I have  represented people with so-called “mild” traumatic brain injuries. A “mild” traumatic brain injury  (TBI) may be defined as one affecting someone else’s family, not your own.

These typically involve a concussion, with or without a loss of consciousness. Emergency medical personnel and emergency department physicians often focus primarily on more obvious physical injuries. If there are visible and immediately life threatening injuries, broken bones or internal bleeding, that is the focus.

Subtle but life altering brain injuries are easily overlooked. Unless there is a gross brain bleed readily visible on a CT scan of the brain, it may be missed. Microscopic level changes to the brain such as diffuse axonal shearing may not be visible for years, often not until autopsy after death. The dangers of post-concussion syndrome have gained great public attention through the class action for former professional football players whose concussions year ago led to complications such as cognitive impairments, depression, and increased vulnerability to subsequent concussions.

Until now, if there was no gross anatomical injury or brain bleed visible on a brain CT scan, the diagnosis of concussion was often subtle, subjective and easily missed. The standard diagnostic protocol has involved physical examination, a series of screening questions for cognitive and neurological symptoms, e.g., “who is the President,”  and often a CT scan to diagnose TBI.

But while CT scans are currently the  standard of care in checking for acute bleeding or swelling in the brain, nearly 30% of patients with a normal CT scan showed signs of TBI when when doctors follow up with an MRI scan. However, MRI is more expensive, slower to produce reports, and not available everywhere. Missing a diagnosis or waiting days for one could have significant consequences.

However, according to a study published this week in Lancet Neurology, many concussions may be detected quickly with a blood test. The study reports that many patients whose concussions are not detected on CT but are detected on MRI have an elevated level of the brain-specific protein glial fibrillary acidic (GFAP). Thus, elevated GFAP may be used as a biomarker to help physicians detect TBIs.

The study used i-STAT™ Alinity™ device from Abbott Laboratories. This is a handheld, portable blood analyzer that produces test results in minutes by measuring the patient’s GFAP protein level.  Such rapid diagnosis might be able to fill a significant gap in emergency departments, sport fields and battle fields.

The i-STAT Alinity device is available outside of the U.S. and is not yet commercially available in the U.S. If it works out as hoped, and is approved by the FDA, this new test could speed diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries, reducing the critically important time required for diagnosis and treatment of TBI.


 

Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley is the first Georgia lawyer to earn three national board certifications in his practice area from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2019, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.

 

 

 

Ken Shigley earns third national board certification – in Truck Accident Law

Ken Shigley of Shigley Law LLC, based in Atlanta, Georgia, recently earned his third national board certification, in Truck Accident Law, from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Certification is based upon exhaustive testing, documentation of extensive experience in the field of trucking accident litigation, writing samples, and professional recommendations from lawyers and attorneys familiar with the applicant’s work.

The National Board of Trial Advocacy operates under authority of the American Bar Association.   “There is no dispute about the bona fides and the relevance of NBTA certification…. Disclosure of information . . .  both serves the public interest and encourages the development and utilization of meritorious certification programs for attorneys.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stevens in Peel v. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of Illinois, 110 S.Ct. 2281 (1990). Mr. Shigley previously attained NBTA board certification in Civil Trial Law (1995) and Civil Practice Law (2012).

Why hire a board certified attorney? 

 

Truck Accident Law deals with the procedural, substantive and practical issues unique to collision cases involving commercial tractor trailers, buses and other commercial motor vehicles and all of the people and entities in the transportation cycle.

The trucking industry is comprised of 3.5 million professional drivers. The size and weight of commercial motor vehicles and trucks in an accident cause significant damage to drivers, passengers and property. The US Department of Transportation reports that there are around 500,000 trucking accidents each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration approximately 4,000 people die and 104,000 are injured annually. One out of every eight traffic fatalities involves a truck collision. Trucking is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a division of the US Department of Transportation.

Shigley is a member of the Board of Regents of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys.  ATAA recognizes attorneys who have documentable knowledge, real experience and proven results in handling truck crash cases so that victims can choose lawyers with confidence. It provides lawyers who handle truck crash cases for victims with the very best cutting edge education and resources available to both improve their knowledge and skillset.  Lawyers can claim to be anything in TV ads, on the Internet or in promotional material, but every ATAA Board Certified member has been thoroughly vetted and tested.

The National Board of Trial Advocacy provides board certification for attorneys who have demonstrated skill and expertise in a particular field and have proven it through rigorous examination and testing by the NBTA. The NBTA is one of the organizations accredited by the American Bar Association to demonstrate that lawyers certified have an enhanced level of expertise and substantial involvement in the specialty area of certification. The standards are designed to enable the NBTA to evaluate thoroughly the objectives, standards and procedures of attorneys and to facilitate public access to appropriate legal services.

Similar to the medical profession in which the body of knowledge is so large that it’s impossible for one doctor to remain current in all specialty areas, the body of law has grown so large and complex that attorneys can no longer be all things to all people. Unlike the medical profession, which has embraced specialization and specialty certification, the legal arena has been slow to acknowledge publicly what it has known for years: nearly all lawyers specialize but do so without substantiation beyond “reputation” or simply saying it is so.

Mr. Shigley’s two prior NBTA board certifications are Civil Trial Law (1995) and Civil Practice Law (2012). 

Civil Trial Law may include civil litigation, personal injury litigation, and any other type of litigation that is not criminal in nature, such as property disputes, construction or insurance claims and a wide array of other civil controversies. Second, usually money damages are at stake in civil litigation.

Despite what is seen on television dramas, cases do not always have to go to trial. However, it is impossible to know in advance which cases will settle and which will go to trial, and because settlement amounts reflect predictions about the most likely result if the case is tried, it is wise for people to hire well qualified trial attorneys to handle their claims or defense of claims whether they think the case will be tried or settled out of court. It is important to understand

Trial attorneys must have knowledge,experience, great communications skills and a thorough understanding of group decision making dynamics and persuasion. In trial practice a misstep can end a case, so having a trial attorney who is making his trial debut may be dangerous, especially in a case involving substantial damages.

Civil Practice Law certification involves preparing and resolving cases before trial, including litigation proceedings from inception of litigation through discovery, pretrial motions and hearings, and alternative dispute resolution procedures in all areas of substantive law before state courts, federal courts, administrative agencies, and arbitrators.

 

 


Ken Shigley is a 2019 recipient of the “Tradition of Excellence” Award from the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section.

Mr. Shigley has earned three national board certifications from the National Board of Trial Advocacy – in Civil Trial Law, Civil Practice Law and Truck Accident LawHe is a board member of the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, former chair of the American Association for Justice Motor Vehicle Collision, Highway & Premises Liability Section, which includes the Trucking Litigation Group. 

He is lead author of Georgia Law of Torts: Trial Preparation and Practice, now in its tenth annual edition with Thomson Reuters West. His law practice is focused on catastrophic injury and wrongful death including those arising from commercial trucking accidents and those involving brainneckbackspinal cordamputation and burn injuries. 

In 2011-12, Mr. Shigley was president of the State  Bar of Georgia, which includes all the lawyers and judges in Georgia.  He also is a former chair of the Institute for Legal Education in Georgia (board member 2008-2019, chair 2012-13),  State Bar of Georgia Tort & Insurance Practice Section (1994-95), and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute (1994). 

A former prosecutor and former insurance defense lawyer, Mr. Shigley is a graduate of Furman University and Emory University Law School. He is a widower,  father of two adult children, and an elder in his church.