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Law.com has a good summary of a car accident case and whether or not Facebook postings are discoverable in accident cases. This hasn’t come up in any Oklahoma cases (yet). The case involved an auto accident back in May ’07. The insurance company defending the case was Allstate (well, technically, the attorneys they pay).  Remember that a jury doesn’t get to know who’s paying the defense attorney and who will be paying any judgment (in reality it’s almost always that person’s insurance company). The Allstate attorneys in the case were hellbent on getting access to the plaintiff’s Facebook pictures. The attorneys argued that they needed the pictures to show what the plaintiff looked like before the accident (even though they already had pictures of her). Liability was admitted, so the issue for the jury to decide was “how much did the plaintiff’s damages add up to?” (the airbag deployed during the wreck and the plaintiff suffered scars from the lacerations and resulting 95 stitches on her face). The Pennsylvania court ruled that the plaintiff didn’t need to turn over the photos. Some thoughts on the case: Note that the car accident was in May of 2007! Even though the case was clear/admitted liability, Allstate was still fighting the claim four years later. Admitted liability cases can be tricky/annoying for jurors: they generally aren’t allowed to hear if the property damage was settled and who’s actually paying the bills. Also remember that the plaintiff will generally need to repay anything that was paid by their health insurance company. Insurance companies and their attorneys will go out of there way to...
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There are  a TON of misconceptions when it comes to lawsuits. Car accident lawsuits are no exception. Here’s a few I’ve gotten lately: “The at fault driver’s insurance company paid for my car. That means that they’ve accepted liability.” Not necessarily. It’s seems counterintuitive, but the insurance company may decide to fight your case on liability - even if they’ve already repaired your car (or paid for it if it was totaled). Why would they do this? If your car is totaled, you will likely be racking up rental car expenses. If the other driver is held liable, and the expenses were reasonable, the insurance company would be on the hook for these. You can get attorney’s fees awarded in property damage cases. It’s a business decision for the insurance company.   “Well, the jury will be able to easily decide liability once they find out how much the insurance company paid for my car.” That would be true if the jury is allowed to know if there is insurance in the case. In most cases under Oklahoma law, juries are not allowed to know if a defendant has insurance. This can obviously make things frustrating for jurors. There are car accident cases tried before a jury that are limited to damages only (basically the insurance company values the claim lower than what the plaintiff does). In this case, liability is not an issue. In cases like this it’s common for the property damage to have already been settled. If you like to read our state statutes, take a look at 36 O.S. §6091 and 12 O.S. §2411: 36...
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Jonathan D. Glater at The New York Times wrote an interesting article on a study comparing settling cases vs. going to trial. The study was based on 2,054 cases that went to trial from 2002 to 2005. The study looked at the dollar amount offered to settle vs. the outcome of the trial. Notable highlights: According to the article, defendants made the wrong decision by going to trial in 24% of cases surveyed while plaintiffs were wrong in 61% of cases “On average, getting it wrong cost plaintiffs about $43,000; the total could be more because information on legal costs was not available in every case. For defendants, who were less often wrong about going to trial, the costs were much greater: $1.1 million” The findings suggest that lawyers may not be explaining the odds to their clients—or that clients are not listening to their lawyers” Concerning the lawyers, the study tried to account for factors like years of experience, rank of a lawyer’s law school and the size of the firm, but the most significant factor was the type of case.  On the plaintiff’s side, contingency cases were the most common while the defense side errors were generally cases involving unavailable insurance coverage My guess at the errors in judgment: That the parties made educated guesses and were willing to go to trial. But, the parties may have also gotten too involved in the case with an “all or nothing” approach. From what I’ve seen, settling is the safest avenue for all parties involved (both the plaintiffs and the defendants). Obviously, that’s not always available.  I like how settling puts both parties...
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