The Effective Lawyer Episode 19: Winning Difficult Cases—Part 2

 

The Effective Lawyer Podcast Episode 19 | Zinda Law Group

Summary

Today the Zinda Law Group team continues its discussion on how to handle some of the most difficult types of cases to win. Some examples include ATV cases, accidental shootings, drownings, and fire and gas explosions. The team discusses how to establish fault, sources of recovery, as well as the use of expert witnesses. Jack Zinda is joined today by his law partners, Burgess Williams and Neil Solomon, and Zinda Law Group’s Brand Manager, Kelsey Balzli.

Discussed in this episode:

  • Any case involving a harmful accident can be difficult.
  • Common difficult cases include: ATVs, Guns, Drownings, Fires, and Gas Explosions.
  • For each case of this type, start with why the event happened to discover fault.
  • Recovery for these cases will typically involve a homeowner’s insurance policy but don’t rule out a products angle.
  • Utilizing expert witnesses should be common practice, but they need to be consciously vetted.
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Cases involving ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles)

Driving an ATV is like driving any other motor vehicle, inherently dangerous in nature. Accidents happen when people don’t take this seriously. “Two main scenarios, one is a child that shouldn’t be on one...the other is someone gets on with a drunk person” Neil says. “Being drunk on an ATV is a bad idea,” says Jack.

ATV Cases: Source Recovery 

“We have found specific ATV coverages, but ideally you’re looking for some sort of ranch or homeowners insurance policy,” says Neil. Look for either specific ATV insurance coverage or a ranch or homeowners' insurance policy of the property where the accident occurred. Ideally, you are looking for at least a million dollar insurance policy to cover the damages. For accidents involving children driving the vehicle, look to the equipment manuals to prove negligent entrustment. In these cases, the owner of the vehicle is often willing to make their insurance pay because they feel really bad.  And don’t rule out a products angle. “There are lots of product cases against these ATV manufacturers for not making these vehicles safe enough,” Burgess says.

Accidental Shooting Injury and Death Cases

These cases are not intentional in nature but result from negligence around firearms. Unfortunately these cases are very common. “Firearms are dangerous...we see quite a bit that people are just careless with guns” says Burgess. There are so many rules involving firearms that it is often very straightforward to make the case for liability to a jury. “It’s not about pro-gun or anti-gun, most people that are pro-gun believe that you have the responsibility to handle a gun safely," says Jack.

Source Recovery for Accidental Shootings

Typical source recovery for accidental shootings comes from a homeowner’s policy. “I think insurance companies are very fearful of these cases because typically  the harm that occurs when somebody negligently discharges a firearm is pretty significant” says Burgess. “Never plead intentional conduct, that’s such a gift to the insurance company,” Jack says.

Other Types of Difficult Cases

Typically follow the pattern of “bad harm” similar to gunshot cases or ATV accidents. Drowning cases are common, as well as fires and gas explosions.  Many drowning cases involve children being left unsupervised. “Recently, we had a case involving a fire where the apartment complex didn’t have the proper fire equipment. Our clients had to jump out a three-story window to escape,” Jack says. “Gas explosions happen a lot more often than people realize, on a nationwide basis,” says Burgess. “Watch out for the Recreational Use statute. Ff the public land is used for recreational use, then there might be some additional reasons that the landowner gets off the hook,” Neil says. Always start with the why did something happen and that will usually establish a clear fault.

Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses should be involved from the very beginning. They can help you know what to look for and how to vet the case. “It can be tough to find the right expert,” says Jack. Looking at witnesses used in similar lawsuits can be a great place to start. Using contacts from your local Trial Lawyer Association can be helpful as well. Be careful with vetting your expert witness, though, because they might be more excited about your case than you. “I haven’t met a professional expert witness who hasn’t told me I’ve got a great case” Neil says. Focus groups can also be helpful, or getting the perspective from friends and family members.

Key takeaways:

  • Any case involving a harmful accident can be difficult.
  • Common difficult cases include: ATVs, Guns, Drownings, Fires, and Gas Explosions.
  • For each case of this type, start with why the event happened to discover fault.
  • Source recovery for these cases will typically involve a homeowner’s insurance policy, but don’t rule out a products angle.
  • Utilizing expert witnesses should be common practice, but they need to be consciously vetted.

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ABOUT THE EFFECTIVE LAWYER

The Effective Lawyer teaches ambitious trial lawyers how to grow their skills and create a prosperous law firm. Using lessons learned by accomplished attorneys from around the country, we discuss lessons learned through their trials and tribulations. Our discussions cover a vast range of topics sought out by attorneys looking for advice, from depositions to how to market your law firm. In each show we cover a new topic that an ambitious attorney would want to better understand, while providing practical skills to improve their legal practice.

The show is hosted by Jack Zinda, Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Zinda Law Group. In less than 15 years, Jack and his team have grown Zinda Law Group from 3 attorneys to over 30, spanning several states and handling a variety of personal injury cases from gas explosions to truck accidents.

 

 

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