Client Contest Testimonials

In our Winter/Spring quarterly newsletter mailing in April, we held a contest for client testimonials. We offered two $50 gas cards to two lucky contestants and on June 1st we gave away those gas cards to two of our clients who submitted their testimonials telling us about their experience with our law firm. We’d like to share the testimonials of the two winners along with a few others.

“I have been a client of Willis & Willis for a number of years. Every claim handled for me was done with knowledge and compassion. I feel that my family, friends, and I were treated like relatives of the firm. I sing nothing but praises for Mark and Todd Willis and will refer them to anyone seeking a fair shake from the law.”
Cylla – Akron, Ohio

“I’ve retained four attorneys prior to being referred to Willis & Willis and by far they are the best. They always answer your calls, will go step by step with you about your case, and are very professional. I will recommend this firm to anyone who needs a good attorney.”
Celeste – Stow, Ohio

Here’s what others said about their experience at Willis & Willis Co., L.P.A.:

“We were very happy with the way we were treated by Mark. He was there to answer all questions, take us to the courthouse and got us the best settlement possible. He’s the only lawyer we will call when we are in need.”
Sam & Mattie – Akron, Ohio

“I’m very pleased with the service I received on my case. Mark Willis is a nice person. He puts his whole heart in the work for his clients.”
Betty – Chesapeake, Ohio

“Mark Willis was referred to me by my friend Cynthia (a former client of Mark’s). I feel that he handled my case very professional and in a timely manner, I have recommended him to my mother-in-law, and I will continue to refer him to anyone I know. “Thanks Mark, keep up the good work.”
Gina – Akron, Ohio

Don’t Fall Into The GAP!

The situation is all too common: Your vehicle has been seriously damaged in a collision. The insurance adjuster informs you that it’s a total loss. You check with your lender to see how much you owe on your vehicle and find out that you owe more on the vehicle loan than the insurance company is offering to pay you for the vehicle. As a result, the entire insurance company check goes to the lender as a payment toward your vehicle loan but does not pay it off and leaves you with a balance and no vehicle. Congratulations, you have fallen into the GAP: You have lost your vehicle, you still owe the lender money, and you have to worry about paying for the replacement vehicle.

Unfortunately, insurance companies only owe you the fair market value of the vehicle that has been totaled. They do not owe you the balance on your vehicle loan. The best way to avoid the GAP is to make sure when you purchase a vehicle that you are not borrowing more than the vehicle is worth. If you have a reasonable loan on a vehicle and the vehicle’s value is greater than the amount of the loan at its inception, you should be safe throughout the life of the loan that the vehicle will not be worth less than the amount owed on the loan. If, however, you are rolling over negative equity from another loan, you may owe more on the loan than the vehicle is worth. In those situations, fortunately, GAP insurance is an easy fix to this problem. Many dealerships will sell you GAP insurance at the time you purchase the vehicle. However, if you don’t have GAP insurance on the loan, you should contact your insurance agent and see about adding GAP insurance to your auto policy. Some insurance companies offer this coverage, some insurance companies don’t. If your insurance company will not offer you GAP insurance, and you owe a significant amount of money on your car, it’s in your interest to shop around to find a company that will provide you this coverage.

Mark Willis, Attorney/Firefighter-Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

In order to expand his understanding of what many of our injured clients go through and give back to the community Attorney Mark Willis recently completed all of the classes and training and passed all the exams to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician – Basic and a Level 1 Firefighter. This entailed hundreds of hours of classes and clinics at: Summa Health System, Children’s Hospital of Akron, University of Akron, Cuyahoga Community College, and the Medina County Career Center. He is certified by The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, Ohio Department of Health, Ohio Department of Public Service, and The Federal Emergency Management Agency. This spring, the Village of Richfield swore Mark Willis in as a volunteer/part-time Firefighter/EMT. The Richfield Fire Department provides EMS and Fire service to the Village of Richfield, Richfield Township in the northwest corner of Summit County and mutual aid to surrounding communities.

Todd L. Willis, President of the Summit County Association for Justice

Todd L. Willis was recently recognized by his peers for his service as President of the Summit County Association for Justice during the 2008-2009 terms. The Summit County Association for Justice is a citizens’ rights advocacy organization, comprised of local attorneys dedicated to promoting the public good and strengthening the civil justice system. The association’s mission is to safeguard the ability of deserving individuals to obtain justice and ensure that wrongdoers may be held accountable for their actions.

Todd received the recognition at a judicial reception last month, which brought together several current judges in the Northeast Ohio region and many of the leading Plaintiffs’ lawyers in Summit County.

Auto Insurance: The Myth of “Full Coverage”

Imagine you’re the coach of a football team. The problem is you only have 11 players on your entire team. Now, technically, you can field your team, but every player will have to play every down on offense, defense, and special teams. Would you say you have a full roster? (By comparison, NFL teams have an active roster of over 40 players.)

In insurance cases we often hear drivers say that they have “full coverage.” What is full coverage? In reality, this notion of full coverage is one of the biggest sources of confusion for consumers of auto insurance. When we hear “full coverage” it often turns out to be the bare minimum required by state law to keep a driver legal. In truth, there probably is no such thing as full coverage: Think about a situation in which, God forbid, you suffer a severe back injury as a result of an auto collision caused by a driver without any insurance. The injury requires expensive surgery. You would require an extended period of very expensive medical care, and your family would be without your income for months. Such an event could easily cost $100,000.00 or more in medical bills and lost income alone. Does your insurance policy cover that type of event? What if you were paralyzed? To get you and your family closer to “full” coverage, it is important to look at both the types of coverages you have and the amounts of those coverages.

You are already paying a lot of hard-earned dollars to your insurance company every time you pay your premium. It is well worth it to make sure those dollars are working for you.

Below is a list of the most important coverages you should have to protect you and your family – and many of them are very affordable:

1. Liability Coverage:
This is the coverage required by state law and the only risk it covers is if you cause injury to someone else. The state only requires Ohio drivers to be insured for $12,500.00 (an amount that has not changed in almost 40 years). $12,500.00 will only cover the most basic of medical care. To reverse the example above, if, you were to cause a motor vehicle accident in which someone else was paralyzed, your insurance company would only cover $12,500.00, and that severely injured person would be looking to your personal assets for the remainder. While there is no formula for determining the right amount of coverage for you, policy limits of $50,000.00 or $100,000.00 are often very affordable. You should discuss your specific situation with your insurance agent.

2. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage:
In most accidents, this is the coverage that actually “insures” that you and your loved ones will be compensated. If someone else causes the accident and they’re insured, their insurance will cover the loss, but all too often the responsible driver is either uninsured (in which case your uninsured coverage is triggered), or has a policy that is too small to cover the loss (in which case your underinsured motorist coverage may be triggered). Ohio state law does not require that this coverage even be offered any more. Therefore, it’s very important that you verify with your insurance agent that you have as much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as you and your family can afford.

3. Medical Payments Coverage:
“Med-pay” coverage can step in and begin paying your medical bills even before you’re fully recovered. As such it can help begin easing the financial impact of an accident before you’re ready to settle. This coverage has always been very important to those without health insurance; now it is equally important for individuals with health insurance. This is because in the last few years, health insurance plans have changed their policies so that medical bills related to an accident are to be paid first through auto insurance, and health insurance will not pay until auto insurance is exhausted. Many folks are not aware that this change has occurred and assume that their health insurance will pay. What is actually going on behind the scenes is a three-way argument among the medical provider, the health insurer, and the auto insurer. This fight is usually not resolved quickly. As a result, a person who has been injured in a car accident can actually suffer injury to their credit as well while the insurance companies point fingers and the bills begin to age.

Please call your insurance agent to discuss these coverage’s. Oftentimes, the amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, as well as the amount of medical payments coverage, can be dramatically increased on your policy without significantly increasing your premiums. Make sure those premiums dollars are working for you.

Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights

Now is the time to reform the credit card industry

Credit card companies, like any other business, should be allowed to make a profit, but increasingly these companies make money through the use of deceptive and misleading fees, interest recalculations, and fluid due dates.

Consumer rights groups have attempted to end these abusive practices for the last several years. Recently, a federal bill was unsuccessfully reintroduced to Congress that would seek the following remedies:

1) Prohibit late fees for on-time payments:
Believe it or not, many credit card companies are instituting late fees even when a payment is received as much as 21 days before its due date because the companies manipulate the “time for repayment” period. The new law would prohibit companies from manipulating these time periods.

2) Eliminate abuses in hidden (double-cycle) finance charges:
Many credit card companies essentially earn two finance charges on the same balance if the balance is paid during a grace period. This practice is usually hidden from the consumer and difficult to understand even when the consumer is aware of it.

3) Finally give consumers the power to control over-the-limit fees:
Consumers have never had the ability to instruct the credit card company to deny any transaction that would trigger an over-limit charge. This law would finally give consumers that ability.

4) Give cardholders timely notice of rate hikes:
Under the new law, credit card companies would have to provide consumers at least 45 days notice before increasing their interest rate so that the consumer could have time to find an alternative credit card provider.

5) Give cardholders greater cancellation rights:
The new law would give cardholders the absolute right to cancel the card when the interest rate has increased and prohibit the application of that interest rate hike when the account has been closed.

6) Give consumers greater control over their credit report:
Currently if you respond to a card solicitation based on a favorable promotional rate (0% APR, etc.) but then receive a card with far less favorable terms, that account will appear on your credit report even if you reject it immediately. The new law would give consumers the right to reject the credit card before that account appears on your credit report.

7) Limit out of control penalty fees:
Penalty fees have increased sharply in the past 10 years. These fees have increased far faster than the cost of living, some approaching $40. The new law would require that the amount of these penalty fees be reasonably related to the cost that a credit card companies incurs due to a late payment.

8) Eliminate unjustified rate hikes and other unfair contract clauses:
The new law would require credit card companies to be honest about the price of a card up front, rather than using bait and switch tactics and hair-trigger penalty rates to double or even triple the rate on debt that has already been incurred.

9) Protecting teenagers and young adults from being burdened with credit card debt for the rest of their lives:
Finally, the new law would address the large number of credit card companies that bait high school and college students with attractive promotions with the goal of getting them hooked on credit cards at a very young age. Under the new law credit card issuers would be unable to open an account for a consumer under the age of 21 unless the consumer has a responsible co-signer, can demonstrate ability to repay, or meets other criteria.

The Act is currently supported by to a variety of consumer groups that are dedicated to insuring fairness in the marketplace. The name of the law is the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Reform Act, or Credit CARD Act. If this is an issue that interests you, please contact your representatives in Washington to urge them to support the Credit CARD Act.

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.