February 2012 Newsletter

A Special Needs Trust Fund

Our office represented an 18-year-old female who was ejected from a vehicle because of the driver’s negligence. Our client sustained a severe brain injury and multiple fractures and spent nearly four months at Craig Hospital in Colorado for intense rehabilitation.

The severity of our client’s injuries caused her to incur substantial medical bills. Our team negotiated a substantial reduction of the subrogation interest with the health insurance carrier. We also identified two liability insurance policies. The two liability claims were settled for the policy limits. We also presented an underinsured claim through our client’s parent’s UM/UIM policy.

After settlement agreements, our team set up a Special Needs Trust Fund to help our client with future medical treatment. This allowed her to keep the health insurance and remain eligible for Medicaid benefits. Our firm has experience in setting up special needs trusts and annuities that are of great benefits to our clients.

Emilio Flores

New Attorney Leads Odessa Office

Emilio Flores will be leading our Odessa office. He received his law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law in 1996. Specializing in personal injury law for over 11 years, Emilio has the experience and knowledge to aggressively represent our clients. We are excited about the opportunities and future of our Odessa office.

Mock Trials – A Powerful Tool for Case Evaluations
What is the purpose of a mock trial?

Our law firm frequently uses mock trials to help evaluate our cases. Mock trials are conducted like a real trial and provide our attorneys with critical information about potential jurors’ perception of the case. The mock trial also helps us prepare and refine our arguments, and better value cases.

When is a mock trial held?

The best time to do a mock trial is usually about a month before mediation. By then, the case is developed enough to make a settlement demand, and the mock trial results can help set a value. Since we are preparing a settlement presentation for mediation, that presentation can be used for the mock trial.

What is the process of a mock trial?

We typically place an ad in the paper, asking people to participate in “jury verdict research”. We usually ask for a half day from the participants, and pay them $50 each, plus lunch. We take basic background information on the phone, and then cull the list to get a more representative group. Conducting the mock trial on a Saturday will draw a more diverse group of participants.

We try to get 25 people for the mock trial, so they can deliberate as two separate groups. Prior to beginning, participants take an oath of confidentiality. Then we show the plaintiff’s mediation presentation, which is about a half hour of video, including deposition cuts and some damages evidence. We then have two lawyers from our office present summary arguments, one for the plaintiff and one for the defendant.

After the verdict, the jurors will tell us what they liked or didn’t like about our case or if something was unclear. It is helpful to see what jurors think is important and what is not. Our attorneys always learn how the case is perceived when we do a mock trial.

Depending on the results, we may attach the mock trial verdict form to our settlement demand. On some occasions, a mock trial result has helped our client reach a more reasonable valuation of their claim.