So, I’m Gary Burger of Burger Law. We’re gonna have a great seminar today. We’re very excited. We’re gonna do it in three parts. I’m gonna talk to you about the basics of handling a small personal injury case where I’ll talk about 20 advanced trial tips which is now 31 with my mom Joanne Burger because I wrote 13, she wrote 18. We kind of put it together. And then I’m gonna do an ethics presentation which I think of top 10 ethics issues, it’s the most ways that people get complained of, and it’s the most frequent encountered litigation. So without further ado and I’m just gonna keep going, and if you guys have questions for me as we go, please raise your hand; this is for you, not for me. My goal in these – and I’ve done a bunch of them – is not to tell war stories but to give you the kind of things that you can do and you can take from here. All your materials are in front of you. Everything I’m gonna say is in there, but I’m gonna add stuff to it too.
So, depending on what kind of practice you have, small personal injury cases can be a very good use of your time. Some people are a little low to take them because they don’t know quite what they’re doing. If they have a general practice, some people do them all the time. But they’re really, if you can get the basics down and know what you’re doing, they can be very profitable and enable you to fully serve your clients, and I’m gonna get right to it.
So, there are three basic areas. There’s car crashes; there’s slip and falls; and there’s work comp. I’m not gonna talk about work comp. So, let’s talk a little bit about vehicle accident law, and if you’ve had these cases. So, to recover against the defendant for negligence, they have to be negligence; you have to show that the plaintiff was, it was a motorized vehicle being operated on a roadway and it proximately caused damages. So, when you talked about proximately cause damages, obviously all these are obvious things, but they’re really, if you handle a lot of these cases, you have very varied situations in there. So, all of the law and all of the jury instructions basically MAI 17.01, but if ever you’re instructing you want to also use 19.01 because that expands the proximate cause issue from just proximately caused to, from just directly caused to directly caused or directly contributed to cause and injured a summon, so always use a 19.01 when you’re doing that. And that’s because if you have a client with a degenerative back condition but they’re later injured by this case, the car accident only has to contribute to cause of those damages. Similarly, if you have multiple wrecks or multiple vehicles involved in the wreck, that’s also where this goes to because the great Supreme Court case and the comments to use, the notes on use on MAI which is where, if you instantly want to get the best law in any of these areas, go to the notes of use in MAI in any of the substantive sections that you need to reference, and that will get you right there. So, that’s generally in terms of the standard of care and the burden of proof what you need.
I would like to remind everybody. We could wait for some more people in here, but basically remember that this is for free, and we ask that you give Legal Services a generous donation to pay for this CLE today. I have envelopes in each of your packet so you can do that, and while we’re in here you’re all gonna get hopefully an email from me with the direct link to how to contribute to LSCM online if you didn’t bring your checkbook with you. So, we do ask that you support Legal Services. Dan Glaser, the CEO of Legal Services, was here for the morning session. We sold out our morning session which is for free. You wonder how that happened, right? So, we’re gonna do the afternoon session too, and we’re happy that you’re here.
So, use 19.01. It’s a lesser standard. I just was arguing two weeks ago. I got the judge in a long case to use contributed to cause, and it’s the right standard in almost all cases, so insist on that. So, most of your cases you think you’re gonna be on a public highway, but there’s a difference between the standard of care for a public versus a private roadway. If it’s a public roadway, a driver has to exercise the highest degree of care, and if you look at MAI 11.02, that’s gonna define your standards of care. So, on a public roadway, it’s the highest degree of care, and definition of care or negligence is that the driver must act as very careful a person would do under same or similar circumstances; however, if it’s a private road, someone only has to act ordinarily careful, and you think that that would happen, but parking lots are private, they’re not public thoroughfares. So, if you ever have a parking lot case, that’s gonna be a private roadway or a rural roadway, and many times adjusters are gonna throw that at you, “Well, it’s a private; it’s only ordinary care, blah, blah, blah. Feel free to climb on in and grab a seat anywhere, no worries and welcome.” So, they’re gonna throw that at you, but frankly it ends up being somewhat of a distinction without a difference because if you go talk to the person and you’re deposing them, I mean, would an ordinarily careful person rear-end my client or blow a stoplight or blow through a stop sign or something like that. So, there you go. Think about that when you’re doing that. And I’m gonna reference, there’s a lot of cases cited in here, there’s a lot of references to MAI which is a shorthand version of getting to the standards and the burden of proof and what you ultimately need to prove at trial.