Trip To Kenya

On Friday, November 28, 2008, Mark Willis along with 40 other local medical professionals left Akron, traveled to Kenya on a medical mission.

In addition to being a lawyer, Mark Willis is a licensed EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). The trip was sponsored by Care Kenya ( in affiliation with Ohio University’s School of Medicine, Ohio Northern School of Pharmacy, and Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine. The group operated out of the Care Kenya Medical Clinic in the village of Masara, Kenya.

They saw approximately 3,500 patients in a little over two weeks. As an EMT, Mark Willis had been asked to go on the trip to help with the intake and triage of hundreds of people who would show up at the clinic on a daily basis. In addition to routine well being medical care, the mission group treated wounds, injuries, and diseases. One baby was born at the clinic. Prenatal vitamins were supplied to all pregnant women. A year’s supply of children’s vitamins was distributed to all children. Toothbrushes and toothpaste were supplied to all children and prescription medication was dispensed to all as needed. The mission group took about 5,000 pairs of used eyeglasses. The group obtained an optical refractor and was able to determine prescription for eyeglasses and filled the prescription from the inventory of used eyeglasses. The gift of eyesight was magical and it could be seen on their smiling faces. The days were long, but the work was rewarding.

Allstate Sues Local Chiropractic Clinic For Fraud

Allstate recently sued dozens of chiropractic clinics, as well as a few law firms, across the country, claiming that these companies targeted and contacted people who were recently involved in auto collisions through a massive telephone solicitation scheme.

Local clinics named in the lawsuit include Akron Square Chiropractic in Akron, Shaker Square Chiropractic in Cleveland, and Northfield Chiropractic in Bedford Heights.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants are part of an organized attempt to commit insurance fraud and are responsible for more than $10 million in damages as they often billed Allstate for phantom treatments they never performed and consistently over-treated patients.

Certain chiropractors and a few attorneys are notorious not only to the insurance companies but also in the legal community, for bending the rules and placing their own financial interests firmly ahead of their clients. As a general rule, if you are being solicited, particularly by a chiropractor, you should ask around about that company’s reputation before agreeing to sign anything.

It’s important to note that Allstate is not suing any of the patients who received treatment, only the chiropractors and attorneys involved.

Are You Better Off Now Than 8 Years Ago?

From an economic standpoint, many people would say no. Cost of fuel, utilities, and food has risen at a greater pace than wages. This is something people experience everyday. However, are you better off from an insurance standpoint than you were eight years ago? You may think that you have the same company, same policy, with the same limits that you had eight years ago. However, those coverages have changed drastically. Insurance companies have changed their policies to eliminate coverage in certain situations and water-down other cov- erages. The Ohio Legislature has passed laws weakening the regulations under which insurance companies have to operate and weakened the laws requiring what coverages insurance companies have to provide. The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled more and more frequently against consumer rights and in favor of the insurance industry. All of this has led to less coverage for those insured and record profits for the insurance industry.

According to a recent report by The American Association of Justice (AAJ) titled, The Ten Worst Insurance Companies in America, insurance companies consistently raise premiums, deny claims, and refuse insurance to those who need it most while profits are skyrocketing. Allstate, #1 on the list, has been accused of delaying claims, denying valid claims or offering lower amounts and defending claims that should have been paid or settled. In fact, according to the report, the amount Allstate paid out in claims dropped from 79 percent of its annual premium income in 1996 to 58 percent in 2006. This is a savings of .21 on every dollar. This drop allowed Allstate to keep an extra $7.7 billion in 2007 based upon its 2007 revenues.

No one stops to think about the impact a significant injury would have upon them, their life, and their ability to pay bills, or pay for medical treatment until the tragedy happens. These changes in your policy, the legislation, and the laws as interpreted by the courts happen everyday and people are oblivious to the matter. While you cannot change the language in your insurance policy, you can determine which legislator and judge will get your vote. Before you vote in the upcoming local and statewide races, I encourage you to find out where the candidate’s interests really lie. A good tell-tale sign is where their campaign financing is coming from. Is it coming from individuals or is it coming from insurance companies or other special interest groups?

If You’ve Been In A Collision Why You May Need To Contact A Lawyer

Being involved in a collision is something most people may only experience once in a lifetime. However, the insurance industry makes it their business to be involved with collisions on a daily basis. Even if the other driver tells you at the scene of the collision it was his or her fault the insurance company representing the other driver may not agree.

From the beginning the insurance company may be photographing skid marks, documenting evidence, and talking to witnesses in an effort to build a case proving their driver is not at fault. All of this can be taking place without your knowledge. If you are having a discussion with an insurance representative and they want to take a recorded statement, that should be your clue that it’s time to get a lawyer. The insurance representative will tell you they need a recorded statement for their file or to help understand the claim but the reality is the recorded statement is taken in an effort to lock in your position on issues in the case.

These so-called recorded statements will be transcribed by the insurance company and put in the file. The question begs: who is taking your recorded statement and who is transcribing it. Is it accurate? You will never be given a copy to review for accuracy. The insurance companies never offer to allow you to take the recorded statement of their driver. Your recorded statement will be used against you. If your opinion or position changes after the insurance company denies your claim and you are forced to go to court in an effort to recover your damages, insurance companies love to use the recorded statement to persuade a jury of their position. While a recorded statement may do you no harm, it may be the single piece of evidence that hurts your case the worst and causes you to lose your claim.

If you’ve been injured in a collision and sometimes even if you are not, you will be solicited by medical providers wishing to provide you medical care. If you go to see one of these medical providers, they will ask you to sign documents. These documents give them permission to cut in line in front of you to be paid directly by the insurance company. When it comes time to resolve your claim you may find that there is no money left as some medical provider has taken all the money.
In short, once you are asked to sign documents by anybody or provide a recorded statement, these are clues that you need an attorney.

Road Map To An Affordable, Reliable Car

Transportation headaches can greatly complicate our lives adding stress, wasting time, costing money, and even jeopardizing jobs. Paying too much for a car that breaks down just adds fuel to the fire. Following are some common-sense steps that can help ensure you get a reliable car at a fair price.

Paying a Fair Price:

First, if you can’t afford to pay cash for a vehicle, you should arrange your own financing through your credit union or your bank before you start shopping for cars. Most of the profit the dealership makes, and a sizable chunk of your pay- ment, comes from the higher interest rate that the dealership will arrange when they arrange the terms of the loans. Most dealerships will tell you that they have obtained the best possible rate for you-don’t believe it. You can obtain the best rate for yourself, again, through your own credit union or bank.

Second, do not lease. There are rare exceptions where a lease makes sense when it involves a small business or self-employment, but for the most part, leasing is a bad idea. Third, as a general rule, you shouldn’t pay over $2,000 or $3,000 for any vehicle over 10 years old, unless you know the vehicle’s history or you’re buying it from a trusted relative or friend.

Finding a Dependable Car:

Once you’ve limited your search to a specific vehicle, obtain a Carfax on that vehicle – it is well worth the cost of the report (typically $30) to help verify that the vehicle has a clean history. Secondly, if the Carfax report is clean, you should consider asking to take the vehicle for an inspection away from the dealership, by a mechanic certified by that vehicle’s manufacturer. If you’re looking at a used Chevy being sold by a Ford dealership, you want to take that Chevy to a Chevy dealership to have it inspected. The cost of inspection is typically around $80 to $100; this is money well spent on the front end to avoid any unpleasant and potentially costly surprises down the road. If the dealership won’t let you do this, you don’t want to do business with that dealership.

Don’t give up your rights:

Warranties differ greatly from sale to sale. Read your warranty documents and make sure you understand what protection you are getting and what protection you are not getting prior to signing the contract.

Finally, make sure you’re not waiving your legal rights. Do not agree to a binding arbitration. Recently, dealerships have been slipping anti-consumer arbitration terms into their contracts which effectively stamps out your most important legal rights. If the dealership insists on making you sign an arbitration clause, you do not want to do business with that dealership.

The Importance of Jury Duty

The right to a trial by a jury of your peers is provided to every citizen by both the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Ohio. Who are your peers?

In Ohio, jurors are drawn from the rolls of registered voters. If you are not a registered voter, you will not be called for jury duty.

The insurance industry and big businesses encourage their employees to parti- pate in the jury process. They pay their employee while he or she serves as a juror. Why? They want to be your peer. Big business wants a voice in the jury room.

The vast majority of cases that are filed as a lawsuit in the court never go to trial. Most cases typically settle along the lines of what jurors have decided in similar cases. If juries routinely award $50 for a broken arm, then cases will settle for $50 for a broken arm. If juries, however, only award $10 for a broken arm, no insurance company will pay $50 to settle the case. If you want $50 then you will have to go to trial and ask a jury for $50. Who will be on your jury? Will your jury have people like you?

By stacking the jury with people carrying their message, the insurance industry is constantly working to lower verdicts. By lowering verdicts the insurance industry lowers what they have to pay to settle cases and in the end save money.

While some people view jury duty as an inconvenience, its benefits should be recognized. Service you provide as a juror may affect the value of a claim brought by you or your family member in the future. You never know when it might be you who’s injured as the result of someone else’s negligence. Along with the right to vote, jury duty is one of the most importance functions we perform as citizens to maintain our democracy. Make your voice heard, not just on Election Day but in the jury room too!

What’s In Your Insurance Policy?

Twice in the last year we have obtained awards for cases involving serious infec- tions that developed after a collision that at first blush caused relatively minor injuries. We had clients who developed internal infections months after a collision. These infections required significant surgical and hospital care. We succeed in medically linking those infections to injuries caused in the collision. Injuries can surface over time and that is why insurance companies always rush people to sign a release shortly after a collision.

This year we concluded an automobile collision case in which we negotiated additional insurance coverage for the collision through a homeowner’s policy. Homeowner’s insurance provides broad liability coverage to cover the insured for any liability arising from their negligence. Homeowners’ policies then list pages and pages of exclusions that carve out many situations and usually all situations involv- ing an automobile. In the end, the blanket coverage of home- owners insurance coverage looks like a moth eaten blanket. In this case, a person was fatally injured in an auto collision and died. We succeeded in proving that the homeowner’s insurance coverage also applied to the collision. We also argued that the homeowner’s insurance policy was in excess to any other coverage. The insurance company argued that the maximum coverage available was the $100,000 limits under the automobile insurance policy. Ultimately, the insurance company paid the complete amount of insurance available, $200,000. This repre- sented an additional $100,000 from the homeowner’s policy. Results like this are achieved by attorneys who are willing to do a thorough investigation and think resourcefully. This also illustrates why it is worth considering carrying large limits on your own auto and homeowner’s policies. $200,000 may not sound like much for someone’s life, but there was no other insurance available. Uninsured/ Underinsured coverage could pay more if coverage existed in excess of $200,000. Do you know what is in your policy?

Recently, in another hard-fought case, our office successfully obtained additional coverage for a young woman who sustained serious permanent spinal injuries in an auto collision. The driver who caused the collision only had $50,000.00 in cov- erage, which did not even cover the victim’s medical bills. We argued that she was covered under an additional policy of insurance issued to her stepfather, who resided in her household. The insurance company strongly disagreed, but the Court ruled in our favor and we reached a settlement, putting additional compen- sation in the hands of our client. Are you fully insured?

Why We Care For Our Clients

You have seen their ads. You have seen their trucks driving up and down the road; you have seen their billboards, and some of you have received letters in the mail from them. Yes, lawyers advertise for your personal injury case, and some of them advertise a great deal. They may be hard at work advertising to get your business, but do they work hard on your case? They generally do not. They do not try cases; they settle them for whatever the insurance company is willing to pay because the bulk of their time and energy is spent on advertising. Trying cases is hard work and takes a lot of time. Those of you who have actually been through a trial know this. Our business motto is to take care of our clients and they will take care of us. Lawyers who solicit injury victims maintain a “get as many claims as possible”motto. The insurance companies do not respect or fear the soliciting lawyer. For example, last year an insurance company offered $6,000 on a claim with a soliciting lawyer. The injured person did not think that was enough. The injured person asked us to take over the case and we resolved the case for $90,000.

We have represented many clients who began their legal cases with soliciting lawyers. They have come to us either because they realized that they had made a mistake or the soliciting lawyer referred the case. Oftentimes, however, by the time of the referral the case is several years old and the case has been bungled. What do the soliciting lawyers do with cases? Some give cases to new attorneys working for insurance defense firms so that they can get experience trying cases. Those cases end up being tried by lawyers who have little or no experience and work for a company geared toward representing the insurance industry.

Why do I tell you all of this? Recently, a long-time client called me to complain about a lawyer they hired to handle their case. He had settled it for what they felt was a paltry sum. The former client had responded to a solicitation letter after a traffic collision. I asked the former client, why did he hire the soliciting lawyer? He said that he assumed that I did not want the case because I did not send him a letter. Quite the opposite is true. I would have been glad to handle his claim. In addition, I believed it was a good claim. Soliciting lawyers spend their energy every day buying police reports from all the local police agencies to gather information and send out their solicitation letters. That is time and energy I sepnd every day working on cases of the clients I have. We refuse to send out letters to crash victims just to get new clients. If you would like proof of our track record, check out our website at

In the last year, we have tried four cases in the trial court. In reality, most attorneys who handle personal injury claims probably don’t try one case in a year. those who actually try cases may only try a couple in a year. over the years, we have handled thougsands of cases in trial court, the Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court. We also have been actively engaged with our elected state representatives who craft legislation and policies that effect every Ohioan. We have been asked to lecture on legal issues and educate other lawyers on a statewide basis. Recently, an insurance defense lawyer who does a lot of work for State Farm told me they considered us dangerous. They know that not only will we file a lawsuit when warranted, but we will also actually go to trial. Our successes against this company speak for themselves. Coming from an insurance company “Dangerous” is a high compliment.

The next time you or someone you know gets a solicitation from another lawyer and you think you have a claim, I suggest you seek out a lawyer who spends time working on cases as opposed to the next solicitation letter.

-Mark Willis

Predatory Lending

Snuffing The American Dream

Tips For Getting A Mortgage Loan And To Avoid Becoming A Victim Of Predatory Lending

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report and score before applying for a loan or mortgage. If your credit is less than perfect, clean up your credit before buying a home. If necessary, consult Consumer Credit Counseling Services.
  • Get references. Check with the local Better Business Bureau before doing business with a lender or mortgage broker.
  • Shop around for the best loan and do your homework. Then check with at least three lenders and compare rates. Look at the annual percentage rate (APR), fees, points and closing costs associated with the loan.
  • Do not do business with unsolicited lenders. If the lender called you or came to your door uninvited, do not agree to anything.
  • Take your time. Read every document thoroughly and review with an attorney.
  • Do not be pressured into signing for a loan you cannot afford. Do not respond to tactics of “if you don’t sign now, you are going to miss out on the best deal possible.” You have a legal right to cancel in writing within three business days of signing lean documents unless the loan is to initially purchase your home. Also, you do not have to sign if you go to closing and there are fees or charges you did not expect. Walk out!
  • If you are thinking about consolidating your debts into a home equity loan, talk to a local non-profit housing or consumer credit counseling agency first.
  • If credit life or disability insurance fees are listed, ask if they are required and if not ask to have them removed.
  • Fill in all blank spaces. Do not sign a document until you have completed every space.
  • Do not do business with lenders that tell you to falsify information on loan applications.

To learn more, visit

– Tagged from the website of Attorney General Marc Dann

The Do’s & Don’ts if you are in a Motor Vehicle Collision but more importantly, why?

With over thirty years experience as lawyers handling motor vehicle crash cases, we have handled thousands of claims and litigated hundreds of cases in many different courts. We know a thing or two about motor vehicle crash claims. You have probably seen lists of do’s and don’ts if you are in a collision, but do you understand why?. Knowing why may help you remember the do’s and don’ts:

  • DO NOT move your car. Seek to prevent anyone else from moving his or her car. Why? Initially someone may admit that they are at fault but when the police arrive, the story changes. If a car has been moved, an investigating police officer may say, “I can’t tell what happened because the cars have been moved.” Most police officers and especially the Ohio State Highway Patrol have had advanced training in automobile collision investigation. A trained officer can tell a great deal by looking at the scene of the collision. The final resting place of vehicles, the angles, skid marks, and debris fields are sometimes the turning point between a claim being denied by an insurance company and a claim being accepted by the insurance company. Depending upon the severity of the collision, police officers may measure and make a scaled drawing of the collision scene. This can be used for a forensic reconstruction analysis, which can determine fairly accurately what happened. We have worked with and tried cases where police officers and/or hired accident reconstructionists have testified. They can only testify if the original collision scene is left in tact so that it can be recorded in photographs and measurements by an investigating police officer.
  • DO take photos of the crash scene. Use your cell phone camera. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In a dispute about what happened, photos can prove the claim.
  • DO make sure you get the name of any witness to the collision. If someone at the scene of the collision comes up and states they saw it, have them write their name and phone number down so that they may be contacted at a later date. Why? Often times we find police officers do not get these witnesses names as the witnesses have left by the time the police have arrived or the police are busy with other things and the witness leaves the scene. Sometimes the police officer never looks for witnesses. If there is going to be a dispute about how the collision occurred, a witness may prove invaluable.
  • DO NOT give the insurance company a recorded statement. Why? Insurance companies usually seek a recorded statement from you at the onset of a claim in order to evaluate their exposure and take control of the claim. Often this is done before you have thought about whether or not you should seek legal representation. The insurance company wants to use the recorded statement to lock down your position in order to control the claim. They will ask you questions about how the collision occurred and any injuries you sustained. The questions are often skewed toward a response favorable to their position. Sometimes, these statements are taken the day of the collision, and the injuries are not even fully known or realized yet. Recorded statements are usually taken over the phone. They will call you and ask you to give a quick statement “off the cuff”. Then, an employee of the insurance company types your statement. This typed out document is then used to evaluate the claim and is sometimes brought out by an insurance company at a trial or hearing to contradict testimony. A lot of questions surround these recorded statements. A representative of an insurance company who may have an interest against you takes them.

From a tape, an employee of the insurance company who may also have an interest different than yours then types it. Next, even if what is typed is accurately depicted, you do not know that they did not miss some of the discussion either due to the recording stopping or the person transcribing it incorrectly. Nevertheless, it is now being used in its typed form to challenge the credibility of your testimony. The insurance company will treat your statement as gospel.

  • DO NOT sign any paperwork for the insurance company without fully understanding what it is. Why? Insurance companies often ask you to sign a release for medical information so that they can get your medical records to find out other information, which they may use as leverage to compromise your claim. Do you know exactly what is in your medical records? Most people do not. You may have a general understanding of what you have mentioned to your doctor, but you have no idea what your doctor writes in your chart. You also don’t know if your doctor makes mistakes in your chart because he or she writes in your chart what is meant for someone else’s chart. Mistakes in medical records are common. Some of them are obvious such as when a medical record for a male indicates that he is pregnant. Others are not so obvious. There is a reason your medical records are confidential. Insurance companies use their authorization to search through medical records from before the collision, to obtain a history and background on you. There is much to be learned about a person in medical records and they can use that information to negotiate your claim. The law does not allow the admission at a trial of medical information that is not related to your injuries. You should not give that information willingly to an insurance company so that they can potentially use it against you. Furthermore, by providing it to the insurance company, it may become public record. There are many things of a personal nature that people share with their physician that they would not want to see blown up as an exhibit the size of a billboard displayed in the courtroom for all to see. With the threat of that happening, many people will resolve a claim for pennies on the dollar just to avoid the embarrassment.

A recent phenomenon in the insurance industry is for the insurance company to contact you shortly after the collision and ask you to sign a release. That signature releases all the claims you have against them. They will agree to pay your medical bills arising from the collision over the next several months and to pay you a few dollars now to settle your claim. As a result, some people are stuck in a bad situation. They look at this as an opportunity to get money now and then find out down the road that they have a serious injury that requires treatment beyond the stated period and there in no restitution.

If you are in a collision and have any questions about your legal rights, the sooner you call us, the better. Someone needs to take care of your claim. The insurance industry employs well-trained individuals to keep your claim at a minimum. They will take charge of your claim to control their exposure, unless you hire a professional to take charge of your claim and obtain a fair amount. If you trust the insurance industry to come up with an amount that you believe is fair, let them take charge. If you question what is in your best interest, you should consult with a good attorney.