Those commentators and politicians who complain about frivolous lawsuits have no idea how many frivolous cases experienced lawyers screen out of the system.  Here’s the latest I’ve seen.

Q.  My 11 years old son was injured by a defective mechanical pencil. A spring from the pencil went through his finger. We had to take my son to the doctor to have it removed. I am jus wondering do I have a product liabilty case against them?

A.  Having gone to an ER for removal of a large spring from my own finger once, and having taken my own kids to the ER for a variety of minor injuries and ailments, I understand you are upset. However, as was mentioned in another response, a products liability case is inordinately expensive and complex. Unless there is a catastrophic permanent injury, a products liability case is generally not worthwhile. If you think about this a while, you may conclude that only the defense lawyers would make any money on this case and the story of your lawsuit would become an urban legend circulated by tort reform advocates for years as an example of frivolous litigation. Unless your son lost his finger, I hope you do not clog up the court system with this claim.

Q.  I fell down stairs in a nightclub and suffered a gash in my leg which required 18 stitches, x-rays & 2 additional doctor visits. I had not been drinking. I was only there to see a friend and had only been in the club about 15-30 minutes. The stairs were clear acrylic with multi-colored lights around the edges. It was very dimly lit inside the club. It happened so fast, I don’t recall if I slipped on something or just missed a step. I don’t recall if there was any type of non-slip edging around the stairs. I made my way outside of the club and sat on the curb and noticed I was bleeding profusely. The person at the door did come to my aid and tried to look for something to bandage the gash. Apparently the club did not keep a first aid kit on hand because the only thing he could find to bandage my leg was a napkin and duct tape. My friends drove me to the hospital. I remember specifically asking about reporting the incident to someone and was told not to worry about it. One of the waitresses laughed and said I would have free access to the club anytime I wanted it. I am not really looking to file a suit against the club. All I am asking is that the club pay the deductibles from what my insurance did not cover (approximately $300.00). I have e-mailed the website link asking someone to contact me but with no response. I intend to write a certified letter to the club also. I would not be opposed to taking legal action against the club for other damages if it is felt that I may have a case. Perhaps having an attorney write a letter would push them to respond?

Q.  In order to prevail in a premises liability case like this you need to have evidence of why you fell, and show that the proprietor knew or should have known of a dangerous condition. If you don’t recall whether you slipped on something or just missed a step, that’s not good enough. If you did slip on something, but it was a drink that another patron had just spilled, you still would lose. Of course, that’s not to say that the club’s insurance company wouldn’t pay your deductible, perhaps under a "medical payments" coverage which does not require proof of fault. You may want to notify the club management and ask them to put you in touch with their insurance company with regard to payment of your deductible. There is a two years statute of limitation for personal injury lawsuits in Georgia, so if you were going to file suit (which I do not suggest) you would have to file by the second anniversary of your injury.

The politicans who complain about frivolous lawsuits don’t see the ones we screen out. Here’s a recent question and my response.

Q.  On November 25th 2008, my boyfriend had purchased, among other things a order of fries. We live about 5 minutes from the store. When he returned home we proceeded to eat. The fries were cold, burnt and not prepared correctly. I was hungry and continued to eat, only to find a cracking sound. When I looked at what I was chewing on it was just dust, no pieces of teeth, just dust. My left upper back tooth had chipped. I’m not sure if it is a wisdom tooth or a dental sealant that cracked, either way my teeth were fine before.

I proceeded to call the store, explained the situation, she said that the insurance company would call me back. About a week later, after the lovely Thanksgiving holiday, the insurance company called me back.

Long story short he asked me some questions concerning my visit. He then proceeded to tell me that I needed to be examined by a dentist to ensure it wasn’t tooth decay and it was indeed the restaurants negligence. There in lies the problem, it a chicken and egg thing.

I recently had my 1st son and I am unemployed w/o insurance. I can’t go to the dentist w/o insurance and if the restaurant backs out, I’m footed with the bill. The longer I wait the worse it gets.

I would appreciate any advice or insight to the situation that you can give me:) Also, do you think it would worth trying in court?

A.  In reality, even if you go to the dentist and get a favorable report, the value of that claim, if any, would be minimal. I wouldn’t bother with it if I were you.

Someone else may have a different opinion, so feel free to consult a lawyer in your town.

Once again, we often hear from folks after their time has run out. Here’s a question I got last week from a lady who waited way too long.

Q.  When I had my first child in 1994, the MD performed an episiotomy which caused severe nerve damage (sliced through tissue from vagina to rectum). I did not file suit at the time because I was hoping the problem would resolve. It is now 14 years later and the quality of life has suffered terribly due to damage incurred. Is it too late to file suit for damages?

A. Georgia has a rather strict two year statute of limitation in medical malpractice case. Nothing in your question suggests applicability of any of the narrow exceptions. Sorry.

Sometimes I have represented injured motorcyclists in litigation.  Here’s a question that hit my desk this week about a motorcycle accident in Geogia.

Q.  I live in Ga. An 83 yo woman turned left in front of me, I was on a motorcycle. Had to hit her in the passenger side rear wheel. Broke leg at knee and broke foot, lots of road pizza. Spent 3 days in hospital for surgeries and then an additional week about 2 months later for blood clots and blood infection. Ins adjuster says he can only offer me 50,000 as that is all she is covered for. My question is:
If I retain a lawyer and sue will the fact that I had an out of date motorcycle learners permit have an effect on the case or should I just settle for the 50 grand?

A.  If she only had $50,000 coverage, that may be as much you are going to get. If you file suit and the case goes to trial, some jurors will sympathize with the elderly lady, some will either like or dislike motorcyclists, and some will just be skeptical of any personal injury claim. You didn’t mention how much your medical bills are, but it would not be surprising for a jury to award no more than what appears to be a $50,000 policy limit. You should request an affidavit from the insurance company as to the policy limits before you settle for that.

As a personal injury trial lawyer in Atlanta, I wind up answering a lot of questions. Here’s one that came to me recently:

Q.  Is the diagnosis from a chiropractor allowed in personal injury cases in Georgia?

A.  A chiropractor can testify to document complaints and symptoms and regarding treatment within the scope of chiropractic care. However, in my practice, I use chiropractic testimony to corroborate the facts about the client’s pain and efforts to recover function, but ALWAYS accompany that with testimony of medical doctors and other health care professionals.

Q.  Can I sue an animal doctor for giving my dog a vaccination shot that made him so sick that he had to be put down?

A.  Theoretically yes. Practically, it’s probably not worth it. The measure of damage for death of an animal in Georgia — even the most beloved family pet — is the cash value of the animal. What could you have sold the animal for on the market the day before the vaccination? Probably not much more than the cost of the court filing fee.

Once again, the politicians who complain about frivolous lawsuits should see the ones lawyers screen out. Here’s a recent question and my response.

Q.  My friends and I recently ate at a restaurant and found numerous bugs in ALL of our to go cups. We had already drank from our cups and because a manager was not on duty, we simply notified the waitress and cook as well as took many pictures of the dead bugs floating in our cups. They did not charge us for our meal but should more be done to compensate us?

A.  So what were your damages? Lawsuits about this sort of thing just mess things up for people who have serious injury cases.