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

You are a great lawyer in your area of practice. You are also smart enough to know when a big case may require prompt action outside your comfort zone.

Just as a trial lawyer may not feel comfortable handling a complex real estate, divorce or estate planning matter, a great lawyer in those fields may not want to risk a client’s rights by trying to figure out how to handle a catastrophic truck crash case.

When you get a call from a friend or client that a family member has been killed or seriously injured in a crash with a

Much of our Atlanta-based litigation law practice is based upon referrals from other attorneys around Georgia and North America for catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases in Georgia. Most of these are not simple, slam-dunk cases. Often we have to contend with a rat’s nest of convoluted, multi-layered liability defenses. Among those is often the “independent contractor” defense. The company that is the prime mover in an activity may cloak itself behind an “independent contractor” shell game, capturing most of the profits while trying to outsource all the risks of harm to others.

Here is a paper I presented on

A chain reaction crash involving four big rig tractor trailers on I-285 near Camp Creek Parkway in south Fulton County, GA, killed a woman in a passenger car on June 19, 2018.

According to the Georgia State Patrol, A tractor-trailer was traveling northbound when it struck three other big rigs and the rear of a car, pushing the car underneath another tractor-trailer.

News photos showed that at least one truck’s cab was badly crushed and the roof of the passenger car was caved in.

In addition to the one fatality, five others were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. It

Cruise ships are like floating cities with thousands of passengers on board. Usually a lot more fun than the typical workaday city, but probably no less likely to involve accidents and injuries.

Cruise ship lines cannot guarantee that no one will get hurt aboard, but they do have a responsibility to prevent dangerous conditions on board that can cause serious injury to its passengers. When a cruise ship accident occurs because of poor maintenance, incompetent or  improperly trained employees, inadequate safety equipment or emergency precautions, the cruise  line can be held accountable.

Cruise ship tickets typically have a provision that

In personal injury law practice in Atlanta, Georgia, we often deal with treating doctors who don’t want to bother with testifying for their seriously injured patients, and with a small number of doctors who make a good living by consistently testifying for the defense almost without regard to the facts.

Of course, most treating physicians are caring, compassionate and helpful to their patients, just as most lawyers are conscientious, ethical and hard working. It is a small minority within both professions that create many problems for the ethical majority.

An article in today’s Fulton County Daily Report highlights both categories of problems with medical testimony. It also underscores the deficiencies of the Georgia medical narrative statute and the need for effective cross examination of doctors who consistently testify for insurance companies to deny all injury claims.

Georgia law includes a provision for use in evidence of medical narrative reports in lieu of physicians’ testimony. The statute and case law require that narratives be written in plain English intelligible to the jury and not filled with technical jargon. It is extremely difficult to get doctors to dictate a medical narrative in plain English.

The article focuses on a narrative report signed by a plaintiff’s treating physician.  At trial it came to light that the plaintiff’s attorney had drafted the report which the doctor signed. That apparently impacted the jury’s view of the credibility of the report.

To get a treating physician to testify live in court is so difficult and expensive that it almost never happens in personal injury cases.  The cost of taking a doctor’s deposition on video to use at trial is often $2,000 or more.  And the prices charged by medical personnel keeps going up. Doctors have charged us $1,500 just to dictate a one or two page letter for use as a narrative report. We were recently informed that it would cost $1,500 per fifteen minutes just to interview a physician’s assistant.  We have encountered doctors who charge $500 or more just to add a signature to a report that was already in their medical charts.

Because of the cost of obtaining doctor’s testimony, attorneys are often forced to use the medical narrative statute. However, the same doctors who charge thousands of dollars per hour to testify about their treatment of their patients charge up to a thousand dollars to dictate a narrative report, and are either unable or unwilling to provide a report phrased in layman’s terminology rather than medical jargon.

Therefore, in order to use the medical narrative statute lawyers may be forced to interpret the doctor’s technical language into plain English, and provide the intelligible version to the doctor to sign. But if it comes to light that the lawyer drafted the version used in court, the effect can be devastating.

That’s why I have just about abandoned use of the medical narrative statute unless there is already an intelligible, signed report in the medical records. One might as well bite the bullet and pay the exorbitant cost to take a deposition on video to play for the jury in court.

The second point in the article was that a well known  semi-retired orthopedist had been effective in persuading the jury that the plaintiff’s condition was almost entirely preexisting and that there was no serious injury. He regularly reviews files and conducts adversarial medical exams for insurance companies, and has testified hundreds or thousands of times that

I have taken that same doctor’s deposition a few times. The last time he testified for the defense in one of my cases, I had a stack of his prior depositions and was able to thoroughly neutralize his testimony by revealing that he has made a good living for decades by consistently testifying on behalf of insurance companies that no one is injured in an accident.  Watching the jury’s response to his video testimony was pretty amusing. 

Representing an injury survivor in a personal injury case is hard work. Putting together the evidence to present at trial is expensive. Nothing is simple. Nothing is easy. Everything takes more time, effort and money than most people suspect.  Anyone who expects treating physicians to be uniformly cooperative in helping their patients is dangerously naive. And when the defense brings in one of the "usual suspects" among defense doctors to claim that the person was not really hurt, the plaintiff’s lawyer must be prepared to that the defense doctor head on.

On September 4th in Atlanta, Angel Rivers, 21, was ejected and killed in a fiery crash when the Chrysler in which she was an occupant was rear-ended by a drunk driver.  Witnesses saw Donis Hodges recklessly driving a 2006 BMW M6 just before he crashed into the Chrysler near Hamilton E. Holmes Drive.

Charges  against Hodges include DUI, first-degree homicide by vehicle, following too closely and reckless driving. On Monday, a judge set bond for Hodges at $310,000.  After the hearing, Rivers’ mother, Shatavia Little, told CBS Atlanta she’s angry that the judge allowed bond for Hodges. “This is not like he hit a squirrel. It’s not like he hit a stray dog. He killed a human being. That’s my baby,” she said.

Georgia wrongful death law provides for recovery of the "full value of the life" of the person killed.

Unfortunately, after any such tragic accident, victims’ families are often immediately besieged by "runners" attempting to unethically solicit for lawyers who are willing to risk disbarment.  Georgia Rule of Professional Conduct 7.3 provides, in part: "A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment as a private practitioner for the lawyer, a partner or associate through direct personal contact or through live telephone contact, with a non-lawyer who has not sought advice regarding employment of a lawyer. . . . The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is disbarment."


This afternoon in Douglas County, my former home, a 2001 Ford Explorer crashed due to tread separation on a tire and predictable driver reaction to that event. The 39 year old driver from Austell was killed.

Tire failure is a well known cause of fatal crashes. Some time back I made the joint damages presentation for a team of products liability lawyers who recovered a total $9.2 million for members of a college cheerleading squad who were riding in a passenger van that rolled over after tread separation in a defectively manufactured tire.

It’s a long way from experiments with lab mice to clinical treatment of humans, and as a Georgia trial attorney in Atlanta, I only represent human spinal cord injury survivors.

However, it is interesting to observe progress in animal experiments that may someday carry over to treatment of humans.

According to an article published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers from UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Harvard recently announced they had induced nerve regeneration in mice with severe spinal cord injury.  They deleted an enzyme called PTEN (a phosphatase and tensin homolog), which controls a  molecular pathway that regulates cell growth. PTEN activity is low during development but turns on when growth is completed. Previously, researchers showed they could block PTEN in mice to regenerate nerve connections from the eye to the brain after optic nerve damage. The new research gives some degree of hope that such nerve regeneration could take place in the injured spinal cord.

The word on the extended family grapevine tonight is that my wife’s cousin’s daughter, Alex McArthur, a recent Davidson College graduate, has been named Ms. Wheelchair America for the coming year. She has been in a wheelchair three years due to muscular dystrophy.

Last year, one of our clients, Alyson Roth, a spinal cord injury survivor, was Ms. Wheelchair California and a runner up for Ms. Wheelchair America.

Both Alyson and Alex are bright, beautiful and courageous young women.