A Great New Blog for Trial Lawyers

      Trial lawyers have a great resource in the blog, wyzgaonwords, from Diane Wyzga.  Diane is a friend and an outstanding storyteller and litigation consultant.  She is passionately committed to the study of storytelling and the application of this knowledge to help lawyers understand best how to tell a story.  Diane has been an enormous help to us in conducting focus groups and crafting stories to best communicate our case to juries.

     Using Diane’s work with us in focus groups, we have been able to reject certain stories that seemed plausible before we did the focus groups, and craft stories that addressed the points that really mattered to the focus groups.  This has been invaluable to us.  

     The concept of storytelling is not new, of course.  I had a philosophy professor, a man I deeply admired, who was fond of saying that there’s been no really new intellectual discoveries since the Greeks.  He was (mostly) joking, but we can read a fairly sophisticated analysis of storytelling in the ancient Greeks, perhaps most clearly in Aristotle’s Poetics.  

     But it seems that law school, with its heavy (and probably necessary) emphasis on facts and well-defined issues, can sometimes dampen our enthusiasm or willingness to communicate through story rather than a "stack of facts."   The art of storytelling is sometimes lost on us lawyers, and it’s exciting that we are experiencing a renewal of interest in the art of storytelling. 

     For me, the study of storytelling is an ongoing, exciting and sometimes difficult process, as I try to create a story with the right perspective, the right sequence, the right point of view, the right beginning and the right ending, never knowing for sure if it is exactly right.  Diane is a leader in the resurgence of storytelling as an important form of communication, particularly for lawyers.  Please take moment to check out her blog.  


Distracted Driving

    Most of us have heard the dangers of driving while texting or talking on a cell phone, but we do it anyway.   That is, until we personally know someone who has been injured or killed by a distracted driver. 

      There are lots of statistics showing the number of people killed or injured by distracted drivers, but sometimes seeing a bunch of numbers can fall flat and the numbers can lose their meaning.  To have a real impact, people need to see real life situations of sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers or fathers killed or injured by a distracted driver. 

The website www.distraction.gov lets you see the faces of people whose lives have been permanently altered because of distracted drivers.  I urge everyone to go to this website, click the faces tab, and listen to each story.  Each situation is similar in that someone was killed as a result of a distracted driver, but each one is also very different.  You will not be able to watch these without believing that no one should be driving while texting or talking on the phone. 

As a lawyer who represents people injured in auto and trucking accidents in Georgia, I’ve seen firsthand how  families can be devastated by a terrible irresponsible decision by a reckless driver, or by companies allowing truck drivers to drive without regard for the rules of the road.  Having seen such tragedy and being the father of two young boys, I want to do whatever I can to try to make our roads safer for my family and for others.  Please take a moment to visit this site.

Does Your Smoke Detector Protect You and Your Family?

If you are like me, you bought smoke detectors for your home trusting that they would protect you and your family if a fire broke out.  It turns out there is some reason to worry that some types of smoke detectors are better than others at detecting fires in a home.

There are 2 basic types of smoke detectors – ionization and photoelectric.  And 9 out of 10 homes have the ionization type of detector rather than the photoelectric type.  MSNBC’s consumer reporter Herb Weisbaum reports today in an article entitled What You Need to Know About Smoke Alarms that this is because they are cheaper and fire departments have given away the ionization type of detectors for years.  But they may not be the best choice.  

Weisbaum reports that several states and municipalities are now favoring the photoelectric type of detectors because they are better at detecting smoldering – rather than flaming – fires.  

Perhaps the most important suggestion in this article is for people to consider buying dual-sensor models which combine both ionization and photoelectric capabilities.  This is recommended by Consumer Reports as well. I am planning to switch all our smoke alarms to these dual-sensor models. 

Back Seat Seat belt Warning System

I have often wondered why more vehicles did not have that annoying "dinging" sound to remind the passengers and driver that someone in the rear seat had not bucked their seatbelts.   It seemed to me that you would especially want this kind of warning system for the back seats since that is where parents usually seat their kids.  It’s hard not to put on your seatbelt when this sound is being repeated.  

Now Consumers Union is seeking to have the NHTSA require auto manufacturers to have such seat belt warning systems in place.  You can read the CU blog entry here.  The NHTSA research on such warning systems is found here.   

Hopefully this new rule will be adopted by the NHTSA.  

Patient Safety in Hospitals

 As lawyers for people who have been injured through the negligence of others, we  hear very often  from people who got infections during a stay at a hospital.  These infections can be very dangerous, especially for the very young, the very old, and  people with immunity problems.  


Find Out About Your Hospital’s Infection Control 

Consumer Reports has reported on new rules to make it easier for patients to identify which hospitals are better at preventing infections.  Their article is at their health and safety blog. Consumer Reports had earlier reported on an investigation that revealed that nearly all these infections are preventable, including central IV line infections, which account for about 30% of the 99,000 annual deaths from hospital-acquired infections.  Under the new rules, hospitals will have to report their infection rates.  Here’s a link to the site, Hospital Compare, that has the reports on infections.   The report shows one hospital in Georgia that reported no central line infections. It would be great if all the hospitals in Macon and Middle Georgia could achieve this same result. 

Patients Need to Know 

Most of these infections, if not all of them, can be prevented with the use of a simple checklist, called the Pronovost checklist, found here.  This checklist focuses on simple measures, like hand-washing and use of disinfectants, to prevent infections.  I would urge everyone to make sure that their caregivers are following these simple steps so they can protect themselves and their loved ones from these infections in hospitals.   Please watch the video above for information on preventing infections.