Computerized Claims-Adjusting Software

Below is a link to an interesting article that discusses the use of computerized claims software by insurance companies in personal injury cases and how such software programs may be programmed or designed to reduce unfairly the amount of an injured person’s claims, thus resulting in “low-ball” offers and payments from the insurer.  As a Waycross personal injury attorney, I have observed that most people who are injured in a car wreck, motorcycle wreck, tractor-trailer wreck, or other scenario in which an insurance company is responsible for adjusting the claim probably do not think that the insurance company would use a computer to determine the “fair value” of their injuries.  However, as a result of recent court cases in which insurance companies have been required by the courts to produce internal documents and other information about their claims-handling practices, it is becoming more apparent that insurers are using these computerized claims software programs more often than people might imagine.  Unlike the “enlightened conscious” of an impartial jury, who may consider all relevant and admissible evidence regarding an injury victim’s injuries and suffering, these computer programs can only consider the information that they are given by the insurance adjusters using them.

You can read the full article here.

ADAM FERRELL, P.C. supports Waycross Service League’s 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament

Our law firm is a proud team sponsor for the Waycross Service League’s 2nd Annual Charity Golf Tournament to be held at Okefenokee Country Club on Friday, July 27, 2012.  We appreciate the Waycross Service League’s charitable efforts and look forward to a great day of enjoyable golfing!

Left to right: April Ferrell and Tasha Musgrove of the Waycross Service League; Adam Ferrell; Amy McIntosh

Georgia Legal Food Frenzy 2012

I want to thank all of you who donated food to my law firm for this year’s “Georgia Legal Food Frenzy.”  The inaugural event was launched by Attorney General Sam Olens and coordinated by “City Representative” volunteers from the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, and I was pleased to serve as one of those City Representatives.  The results have been nothing short of phenomenal.  Over 600,000 pounds of food to benefit the State’s seven regional food banks was raised by law firms and legal organizations across the State.  Because of your contributions, our firm was able to collect over 130 pounds of food for local food banks.  We hope to collect even more next year.  Thanks again for making this event a success!

 

Grandparent Visitation Rights

As a Waycross family law attorney, I often receive calls from grandparents who, for whatever reason, are not allowed to see or visit with their grandchildren.  Often, these grandparents must resort to legal action to seek court-ordered visitation rights with their grandchildren.  Under Georgia law, parents have a constitutionally protected interest in raising their children as they see fit without un-wanted intrusion by any third-parties, including grandparents.  As the Georgia Supreme Court has held, “The right to the custody and control of one’s child is a fiercely guarded right in our society and in our law. It is a right that should be infringed upon only under the most compelling circumstances.”  Brooks v. Parkerson, 265 Ga. 189, 192, 454 S.E.2d 769 (1995)(cit. omitted).

However, O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3 provides a way for grandparents to petition for visitation rights with their grandchildren under certain circumstances.  This statute, commonly referred to as the “Grandparent Visitation Statute,” was recently amended by the Georgia Legislature, effective May 1, 2012, and many believe the new law expands the protections given to grandparents.

From the outset, it should be noted that both the old law and the new law expressly prohibit a grandparent from filing an original action to seek visitation rights where the parents of the minor child are not separated and the child is living with both parents.

Under the new law, any grandparent shall have the right to file an original action for visitation rights to a minor child or to intervene in and seek to obtain visitation rights in any action in which any court in this state shall have before it any question concerning the custody of a minor child, a divorce of the parents or a parent of such minor child, a termination of the parental rights of either parent of such minor child, or visitation rights concerning such minor child or whenever there has been an adoption in which the adopted child has been adopted by the child’s blood relative or by a stepparent, notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 19-8-19.

Furthermore, upon the filing of an original action or upon intervention in an existing proceeding, the court may grant any grandparent of the child reasonable visitation rights if the court finds the health or welfare of the child would be harmed unless such visitation is granted, and if the best interests of the child would be served by such visitation.  The showing of harm, by clear and convincing evidence, is necessitated by the parents’ constitutionally protected parental rights.

The newly amended statute further provides that “[i]n considering whether the health or welfare of the child would be harmed without such visitation, the court shall consider and may find that harm to the child is reasonably likely to result where, prior to the original action or intervention: (A) The minor child resided with the grandparent for six months or more; (B) The grandparent provided financial support for the basic needs of the child for at least one year; (C) There was an established pattern of regular visitation or child care by the grandparent with the child; or (D) Any other circumstance exists indicating that emotional or physical harm would be reasonably likely to result if such visitation is not granted.

The statute also expressly provides that a court may consider a parent’s decision regarding whether grandparent visitation should be awarded.  It states that “[w]hile a parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation shall be given deference by the court, the parent’s decision shall not be conclusive when failure to provide grandparent contact would result in emotional harm to the child.”  However, the statute establishes a rebuttable preemption that “a child who is denied any contact with his or her grandparent or who is not provided some minimal opportunity for contact with his or her grandparent may suffer emotional injury that is harmful to such child’s health.

Other provisions of the new law state that visitation rights, if granted, shall not interfere with the child’s school or extracurricular activities, and that any visitation time awarded to a grandparent shall not be less than 24 hours in any one month period.  Additionally, whether or not visitation is awarded to a grandparent, the court may direct a custodial parent, by court order, to notify such grandparent of every performance of the minor child to which the public is admitted, including, but not limited to, musical concerts, graduations, recitals, and sporting events or games.

The clear intent of the legislature in amending O.C.G.A. § 19-7-3 was to provide Georgia grandparents more tools to seek visitation with their grandchildren.  The Grandparent Visitation Statute has been subject to numerous legal challenges over the years, and the Georgia appellate courts have rendered portions of it unconstitutional in the past.  It is almost certain that the newly amended statute will face similar legal challenges in the future.

If you have a family law matter, perhaps involving grandparent’s visitation rights, and would like to meet with an attorney to discuss your case, please contact our law firm.

GO BEARS!!!

We would like to wish the Pierce County High School baseball team the best of luck as they play Appling County for the Region AA Championship on May 31, 2012.  The game will be played in Baxley, Georgia and is expected to begin at 6:00 PM.  Regardless of how the final game turns out, the Pierce County players should be proud of their accomplishments this season.  GO BEARS!!!

Freedom is not free…

Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday in May, commemorates the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Services.  It originates from “Decoration Day,” which was first observed three years after the end of the Civil War and which served as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.  In 1971, Congress made Memorial Day a federal holiday by official act.  In December 2000, Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act.”  The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation.

We should all be grateful for the sacrifices made by those who have served in the Armed Forces.  Not only have those individuals protected us from harm, but they have protected and secured the constitutional rights that we enjoy as citizens of this great country.  Among those are the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution that guarantee all citizens certain rights that are utilized in courts of law every day in both civil and criminal cases.  We should never take these rights and liberties for granted, and we should always remember those who have died to protect them.

Adam Ferrell named to “Super Lawyers Rising Stars”

Local attorney Adam Ferrell has been named to the Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for 2012.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.  No more than 2.5% of all lawyers in Georgia are selected to the Rising Stars list each year.

Mr. Ferrell is a graduate of Mercer University School of Law and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 2004.  His law office is located in downtown Blackshear, Georgia.  His firm focuses on plaintiff’s personal injury, family law, and criminal defense litigation.  He also presently serves as attorney for the City of Blackshear and prosecutor in the City’s municipal court.  Mr. Ferrell has served as past president of the Waycross Bar Association and currently serves as a Southern District representative on the Executive Council of the Young Lawyers Division for the State Bar of Georgia.  He also is currently President of the Waycross Jaycees and serves as a board member on the Satilla Health Foundation and Waycross College Foundation.  Mr. Ferrell and his wife April (Morgan), along with their son Jackson, reside in Pierce County.