Working For the Old School Guys

Critton, Luttier and Coleman LLP Blog

By: Benny Lebedeker, Esq.

It seems like this is the time of the year when, on top of the usual holiday depression, my spirits are further dampened by reports of members of my profession acting like criminals with brief cases, and not professionals sworn to respect and uphold the law. Last year we were bombarded with press about "mortgaged backed securities"; – securities dreamed up by Wall Street lawyers; securities which had received triple A ratings but which ultimately proved to be worthless. This year it's the law firm of Rothstein, Rosenfeld & Adler and Scott Rothstein's Ponzi scheme. These stories leave the public with the impression that attorneys are flashy self-promoters who make outrageous amounts of money by using their knowledge of the law for nefarious ends, hurting the public along the way.

My father was an old school lawyer here in Palm Beach County for over twenty years. My father was never a wealthy man and we lived very modestly. Yet to my knowledge my father never took a dime he did not earn, never advertised for cases, and avoided the publicity which other lawyers sought with such ferocity.  When I passed the bar exam, my father explained to me that being a lawyer was like being a superhero – you should always use your powers for good, and never use your powers for evil. Here are some other things that I learned from my father and other "old school lawyers" I've been fortunate enough to work for:

  • Never be arrogant or disrespectful to witnesses or litigants. Juries hate arrogant lawyers and witnesses won't cooperate with a disrespectful attorney.
  •  90% of the clients who come to you, hire you because they need help with a legal problem. These clients aren't interested in multi-million dollar verdicts, wrecking vengeance on the opposing party, or seeing your name in the paper discussing their cases. They just want their problem solved and at a reasonable price. 10% of clients who come to you do expect multi-million dollar verdicts, want to wreck vengeance on the opposing party, and can't wait to see their cases discussed in the press. Avoid that 10% like the plague.
  • The legal system in this country is adversarial and you have to fight like hell for every client you represent, and there is no such thing as a small case. Every client's case is important to the client, no matter how much is at stake.

Many of the "old school" lawyers who provided me with this insight have moved on, and there are fewer and fewer of them around. However my firm does not advertise, we work hard for our clients, and we succeed without being arrogant, self-promoting, or sneaky. I get to go home at night with my self-respect intact, and tell my kids that I help people for a living. There's no school like the old school.

1-year-old Drowns in Apartment Complex Retention Pond

Critton, Luttier and Coleman LLP Blog

Recently, a child tragically drowned in a retention pond behind an apartment complex in Jacksonville, Florida. In South Florida, there are literally hundreds of similar bodies of water. In fact, many of you live near these retention ponds. Last year, a similar incident occurred in Wellington, Florida when a child wandered away from home and drowned in a nearby body of water that was not protected by a fence or gate.

Did you know that Florida law requires swimming pool owners to have a fence or barrier around the pool in order to protect others – most importantly children? Florida Statute Section 515.29 requires the barrier around a pool to be at least 4 feet high.

Interestingly, Florida has never enacted a similar law requiring a barrier around retention ponds, or other unprotected bodies of water. The unprotected bodies of water result in numerous injuries and deaths to our children every year. Nevertheless, the law will impose a duty on a landowner to protect a body of water. Each injury or death is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The relevant factors include, but are not limited to:

  • whether children are known to frequent the area;
  • whether there have been similar occurrences involving injury or a death in the past;
  • whether the body of water qualifies as an "Attractive Nuisance" under Florida law; and
  • whether the owner of the complex has knowledge that children frequent the area.

When a family loses a child as a result of drowning, the family needs an experienced law firm to handle this very unique type case. Most of the time, the family will face a large insurance company that will attempt to bully the victims.

At Critton, Luttier & Coleman, we will assist to maximize a recovery and protect your rights. Your trusted advocates at Critton, Luttier & Coleman are highly experienced courtroom attorneys who have handled claims identical to the ones outlined above. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else';s negligent act, please contact us at 561-842-2820 to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our attorneys.

Are television advertisements an indication of consumer behavior?

Law Firm of Critton, Luttier & Coleman

If television advertisements are any indication of consumer behavior, most people are not concerned with getting the best coverage; they are looking to save money on their car insurance. Did you know that the Insurance Research Council found that approximately 23% of drivers in Florida have no insurance? Florida ranks fifth in the country when it comes to the percentage of uninsured drivers. Thus, if you are involved in a car accident, there is roughly a one-in-four chance the other driver has absolutely no insurance. Even if the other driver is insured, he or she is not required to carry bodily injury coverage, that is, coverage to pay for any injuries you sustain as a result of his/her negligence.

So what can you do to protect yourself? The answer is simple: purchase uninsured motorist coverage, commonly known as "UM coverage." Below are two scenarios to illustrate how UM coverage works.

Scenario 1: You have an insurance policy with $10,000 in bodily injury coverage, no UM coverage and $10,000 in PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. You are t-boned by an uninsured driver who ran a red light and you sustain permanent injuries. Your injuries cause you to miss work and lose wages. Under this scenario, you only have $10,000 in PIP coverage to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. If the injuries are severe, the $10,000 can be exhausted in days.

Scenario 2: Same accident as described in Scenario 1, yet this time you have an insurance policy with $100,000 in bodily injury coverage, $100,000 in UM coverage and $10,000 in PIP coverage. Under this scenario, you have $110,000 ($100,000 uninsured motorist and $10,000 PIP) to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.

As you can see, UM coverage can greatly benefit you if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or under-insured driver. Your trusted advocates at Critton, Luttier & Coleman are highly experienced personal injury attorneys who will fight to get you what you deserve from the insurance companies. If you or someone you know has been injured, please contact us at 561-842-2820 to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our professionals.

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