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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013

Insurance Defense the ten CoMManDMents oF PraCtiCinG insUranCe DeFense laW Continued from page 22 With critical documents, like an appellate brief, I always have someone else read it after me because I fi nd I get too close to my writing and can’t always see what may be blatantly obvious to another set of eyes. 9. rePort, rePort, rePort From my experience, it is unusual for the majority of insurance companies to be in the same city, much less state, as the attorneys they have retained to represent their insureds. Th at makes reporting a very necessary, and sometimes very hated, part of the practice of insurance defense law. Again, we may think we have everything under control, but there is usually an adjustor on the other end who needs to be reassured. When possible, communicate in some form or fashion every 30 days. Pay close attention to trial settings, and prepare your pre-trial report well in advance so that the insurer has the information he needs within a reasonable time to do something with it. Insofar as the information needed, make sure you have the damages claimed, proof of damages, lien information, photographs, etc. It does no good to evaluate a case when your lien letter is a year old and was prepared before the plaintiff even had his most recent surgery. 10. liens Likewise, always check for medical liens, especially hospital liens. Once you have the lien, do not assume that it is correct. Very often, insurers will unknowingly lump in charges that are unrelated. Identifying those and bringing them to the attention of plaintiff ’s counsel can shave off a substantial amount from the total damages. Believe me, it happens more often than you might think. Regarding hospital liens, they only attach if the plaintiff is hospitalized within one week of an accident, and the lien must be fi led within 10 days of discharge. A subsequent hospitalization may be included in a lien if related to the initial treatment. Again, this list is not intended to be all-encompassing, but it does highlight some of the more important day-to-day considerations when practicing insurance defense law. Hopefully, it will, however, inspire you to be a better attorney. We need all the help we can get! 2013 Pro Bono Award Winners Explain Why Th ey Volunteer Continued from page 33 actively pursuing justice, but need some basic assistance in determining how to proceed. What is your most memorable volunteering experience? I’ve had many memorable experiences while volunteering at the Help Desk. Most, however, involve an expression of appreciation from someone you’ve helped. Th ese people truly appreciate your help. You can tell that they’ve all had the helpless feeling of not knowing where to start.  Once you’ve explained the appropriate steps to take, or helped them to fi ll out the proper form, you can see a change in them.  Th ey feel empowered.  It indicates how great the need is. What advice can you give attorneys thinking about volunteering with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program? I encourage anyone who has never volunteered with the BBVLP to sign-up to work at one of the Help Desks.  Th e volunteer time slots are only a few hours, and there are several days each week in which you can participate.  You do not need to specialize in any particular area of law to assist these people.  Th e BBVLP staff is knowledgeable and well-prepared with all of the appropriate document templates you might need.  To volunteer at the Monday or Th ursday District Court Help Desk or the Wednesday Domestic Relations Help Desk, or to volunteer to take a case with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, please contact Nancy Yarbrough, director, at nyarbrough@ vlpbirmingham.org or Stephen Hudgens, staff attorney, at shudgens@vlpbirmingham.org. G 36 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin - Winter 2013
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