My law practice is focused on personal injury, wrongful death and commercial trucking law practice. As president of the State Bar of Georgia, I have many occasions to speak to groups, both in and out of my practice area. The following is excerpted from my presentation — “Trial Preparation: 30 tips in 30 Minutes” – at the Georgia Law of Torts seminar at Mercer University Law School in Macon on September 23, 2011.

11. Propose a stipulation that attorneys issue deposition subpoenas.

While federal law authorizes attorneys as officers of the court to issue subpoenas on standard forms, current Georgia

As president of the State Bar of Georgia, I often have occasion to speak at events that extend beyond my own personal injury, wrongful death and commercial trucking law practice. The following is excerpted from my presentation — “Trial Preparation: 30 tips in 30 Minutes” – at the Georgia Law of Torts seminar at Mercer University Law School in Macon on September 23, 2011.


5 . Social Media.

Social media can be “self surveillance” that hands a loaded gun to the other side in litigation. Discuss with a potential client whether she might consider taking down any Facebook, MySpace,

As president of the State Bar of Georgia, I often have occasion to speak at events that extend beyond my own personal injury, wrongful death and commercial trucking law practice. The following is excerpted from my presentation — “Trial Preparation: 30 tips in 30 Minutes” – at the Georgia Law of Torts seminar at Mercer University Law School in Macon on September 23, 2011.

1. Begin with the end in view.

    It is tempting to assume that cases are likely to settle rather than go to trial. While most cases do settle, that assumption leads to laziness and lack of

    The following profile article about me was written by Linton Johnson and published in the August 2011 issue of the Georgia Bar Journal. While it briefly touches on my practice as a personal injury and wrongful death trial attorney focused on commercial trucking accidents, the focus is more on background for bar leadership.


    A Truck Wreck Lawyer Faces the ‘Truck Wreck’ of the Judicial System After Years of Court Budget Cuts

    Linton Johnson

    As the newly installed 49th president of the State Bar of Georgia, Ken Shigley knows to expect the unexpected. Having served on the Executive Committee

    Over the years in my Atlanta personal injury practice, I have worked on cases involving catastrophic tire failure. It has certainly made me more alert to issues when tire issues arise with vehicles in our family. 

    And it helped to increase my patience with the replacement process when I recently ran over some sort of metal strip on an exit ramp, resulting in the loss of both front tires — one immediately and the other a couple of days later when I was still driving on my spare.

    At the risk of sounding like President Wilson, here are my "Fourteen Points" for tire safety, with thanks to California lawyer Mike Danko and Gerry Maloy at MSN:

    1. No on-the-rim repairs. The tire must be dismounted so that the tire can be properly inspected and sealed against moisture. Short cuts on this can put the survival of your DNA at severe risk.

    2. No repairs near the shoulder. This is the weakest part of the tire.  Only holes in the middle of the tire can be repaired.  If you pick up a nail near the shoulder, just spring for the price of a new tire. It’s cheaper than a funeral.

    3. New tires go on the rear.  Installing the new tread on the front can lead to loss of control.

    4. Check tire pressures and adjust at least once a month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on tire-related crashes, the leading cause of tire failure is underinflation.

    5. Inspect tires regularly for abnormal wear or damage. This is easily done at the same time you check pressures. If repair is needed, see #1 above.

    6. Rotate tires every 6,000 miles or according to owner’s manual. I know, this is as boring as flossing teeth, but uneven wear pattens can have really bad outcomes such as catastrophic tire failure, rollover, death, quadriplegia, etc.

    7. Maintain tires in proper balance.  See #6.

    8.  Maintain steering and suspension in proper alignment. See #6 again.

    9. Never overload a tire. Overloading is the second leading cause of tire failure, next to underinflation. So don’t load down your old Pinto with rocks  to build that cool stone patio and outdoor fireplace for the coming spring. Read the load capacity stuff in the owner’s manual.

    10. Avoid overheating tires.  Excessive speeds, heavy loads, underinflation, rough pavement or concrete, and aggressive driving all contribute to high tire temperatures. All these, especially in hot weather, can lead to sudden tire failure.See #6 again re: bad outcomes.

    11. Replace tires when . . .

    • Any portion of the tread is worn to the "wear indicator bars"—lateral bars molded into the tire grooves at about 20 percent of their new tread depth—or to a depth, as measured in a groove, of 1/16th inch or less.
    • Tread wear is severely uneven (in which case have the wheel alignment checked) or the center is worn much more than the edges. (See #6 again about bad things happening to good people.)
    • The tire sidewalls are severely cracked or there are bulges anywhere on the tire.
    • There is any indication of tread separation from the tire carcass.
    • The tire has been punctured and cannot be satisfactorily repaired. (See #1 & #2 again.)

    12.  Install tires in matched pairs or complete sets.  I just taught this one to my frugal daughter who had one tire go bad. I hope she remembers when she, rather than Dad, is paying for the tires.

    13.  Select the right tires for your vehicle and driving environment. There is quite a variety of specialized tires available. In our generally mild southern climate, "all season" tires are generally good enough for most of us. My daughter’s boyfriend is an advocate of snow tires in upstate New York, where they are in college. I tell her to ride with him in the winter since we Southerners don’t know how to drive on that stuff anyway.

    14. Review 1 through 13. I didn’t really have "Fourteen Points" but as a former history major, I couldn’t resist a nod to the President who once had a law office near where our Georgia Bar Center now stands.

    Year in and year out, most lawyers handling back injury cases see a lot of herniated discs and fractured vertebra.  A less common and for many lawyers poorly understood back injury is syringomyelia.

    Syringomyelia is a condition in which a cyst or cavity forms within the spinal cord. While it may be congenital or caused by illness, when there are no symptoms and then it immediately shows up on an MRI after a truck folds up the rear of the person’s car, there is a good chance it is caused by trauma. Motor vehicle collisions are the most common traumatic cause of syringomyelia.

    This cavity or cyst, called a syrinx, expands and elongates over time, destroying the center of the cord. Since the spinal cord connects the brain to the nerves in the extremities, this damage may result in pain, weakness, and stiffness in the back, shoulders, arms or legs. Other symptoms may include headaches and loss of the ability to feel extremes of hot or cold, especially in the hands and disruption in body temperature. SM may also adversely affect sweating, sexual function and bladder and bowel control. In extreme cases it may lead to paralysis.

    Conservative treatment may involve multiple pain medications. In some patients it may be necessary to drain the syrinx, which can be accomplished using a catheter, drainage tubes, and valves. Surgery is usually recommended for syringomyelia patients, though the rate of success for surgery is not as high as with, for example, ruptured intervetebral discs.  However, surgery is only recommended when the condition is severe enough, and doctors may choose to defer surgery as long as appears safe.

    As an injury lawyer in Atlanta, I have dealt with probably thousands of cases of back injuries involving ruptured or bulging intervertebral discs pressing on nerves and causing pain in the back as well as pain, numbness and tingling radiating down arms and legs. This is probably the single most common injury we see resulting from motor vehicle collisions.

    Now an Australian biotech company has announced successful preclinical trial results of its adult stem cells in the treatment of degenerative intervertebral disc disease, the leading cause of low back pain. Note that they are using adult stem cells, not the controversial embryonic stem cells.

    It’s a long road from preclinical trials in Australia to FDA approval in the US.  But if this turns out to be a practical treatment for damaged discs, it could be a major breakthrough for treatment of millions of people with injured and/or degenerative disc problems.

    While I make my living as a trial attorney handling personal injury liability cases for people who have been seriously injured, I am also deeply interested in scientific advances that improve their prospects for productive lives of high quality.

    Traumatic spinal cord injuries leading to quadriplegia and paraplegia are among the most devastating of all physical injuries.  The full scope of problems associated with those conditions  — pressure sores, spasticity, autonomic dysreflexia, lack of bowel and bladder control, etc. —  is unknown and virtually unimaginable to anyone who has not dealt directly with those conditions.

    New advances in stem cell and nanotechnology research appear to offer hope in the long term. However, they are a long way from producing  treatments approved by the FDA, clinically available in the US and paid for by health insurance. Stem cell studies with lab animals have produced exciting reports, and every few weeks I see hopeful reports about the prospect of using stem cells from olfactory nerve, umbilical cord blood, spleen or bone marrow.

    There is a lot of hype about the promise of stem cell therapies, and we read of patients traveling to Portugal, China, Thailand or Mexico for cutting edge treatments, the efficacy and safety of which have not yet been proven to the satisfaction of US authorities. 

    A few web sites that offer insights into the current state of stem cell research are:

     I’m not a physician and cannot give medical advice. In representing victims of catastrophic injury, however, we try to look ahead to the possibilities for improving the quality and quantity of life if sufficient financial resources are made available.