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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013

Insurance Defense correspondence, etc., that are generated throughout the pendency of the lawsuit. It is also important to explain to the insured the right to retain independent, personal counsel. 3. Do Unto Others We all make mistakes, and holding another attorney’s feet to the fire will garner you no favor in the future. Trust me, if you have not already, you will make a mistake, more likely many mistakes, over the course of your practice of law. If you have not been willing to work with the attorney on the other side in the past, he is probably not going to let you get away this time. We have enough to worry about in our daily practice, don’t make it harder on yourself by refusing to continue a hearing or extend a deadline. As long as the request is within reason, my advice is to err on the side of cooperation. 4. Obey Deadlines Along the same vein, do everything you can not to miss deadlines. Whether a hearing date or a report that is due, mark it on your calendar with good reminders. There is an attorney I know, but will not name names, who makes eyes roll all over his office when he asks that he, any attorney(s) working on the file, the paralegal and secretary(ies) put 1 month, 14 day, 48 and 24 hour reminders on all calendars. The eyes roll, that is, until someone catches that upcoming hearing that was almost missed. No one is perfect, and we have all missed a deadline or two, but it is better to be safe than sorry. 5. Obey CMS By now, everyone should know about the reporting and reimbursement requirements applicable to Medicare beneficiaries. Because the reporting law is relatively new, there continue to be changes made, I suppose, in an attempt to simplify the process. (I will refrain from including any editorial comments or personal opinions in this article.) Some things to be on the lookout for: there is in the works some clarification regarding future medicals that should be published in 2014; due to federal budgetary constraints, approximately 50% of CMS employees have been furloughed, which will draw out the process even longer; and the next step may be to include Medicaid in the reporting process. 6. Work Your Case It is easy to get into the daily grind of answering complaints, issuing discovery, taking depositions, etc. Sometimes, however, it is the minor details that are the most important. Don’t forget to take the time to meet with witnesses, interview police officers, photograph the scene. Just a little extra work could end up saving a lot of time and money down the road. For example, a trip to the scene of an accident can give you fresh perspective on what really happened, and just might make you realize that the accident could not have happened the way your client insists that it did. In handling your files, it is also important to be vigilant in objecting to discovery and deposition requests. Follow up on outstanding subpoenas and updated medical records. Perform background checks on all parties and witnesses. Also, check to see whether there is a standing pretrial order in the county where your case is pending. Not every judge enters a case-specific pretrial order, and you don’t want to miss pretrial deadlines. 7. Work Produc t Don’t cheat on your work product. Take pride in everything you do, from researching an issue, to writing a report, to deposing a plaintiff, to interviewing a witness, to ultimately trying a case. Work can become monotonous, but give every file, no matter how seemingly insignificant, your best. Your #1 client deserves that, at least. 8. Treat Each Case as its Own It can be tempting to borrow from another case and move on. Why reinvent the wheel, right? That’s not always the best policy. Some things may be standard, e.g., a discovery motion; however, remember that the law is always changing, and what works for one case may not work for the next. For example, the Balch decision on which I wrote my previous article changed from a majority to a plurality on an application for rehearing. Also, when “borrowing” from a prior case, read and re-read what you have written, because the most obvious sign of boilerplate language is when someone else’s name is accidentally left in the document. Continued on page 36. 22 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013
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