Tuesday, November 24, 2015


                In 2012, Washington State implemented a new program that created the limited license legal technician (LLLT). LLLT’s are not lawyers. They cannot represent clients in Court, nor can they negotiate on their behalf. Yet, they are allowed to provide limited legal advice like preparing forms, explaining legal documents, drafting legal documents and explaining Court procedures.

                This is very similar to the tasks paralegals perform, but paralegals are normally under attorney supervision. LLLTs are entirely independent of attorneys, and can pass along this advice without attorney supervision. Washington’s stated goal is to improve access to legal professionals, especially for those who cannot afford an attorney.

                There are two conflicting thoughts here. First, there is significant concern that allowing briefly trained LLLTs to give legal advice is opening up the door to bad legal advice. Lawyers are educated for 7-8 years after graduating high school, and are put through rigorous testing both in law school and in passing the bar exam. The training of an attorney is extensive, time consuming and expensive. LLLTs will have less than a fraction of that training, but the responsibilities of an attorney in giving advice. This could create a situation where clients are not receiving correct advice, which can lead to LLLTs creating issues for their brief clients.

                Second, is we have a problem in this country in getting access to lawyers. In an injury case, the lawyer is hired almost exclusively on a contingency basis, so many injured clients can get an attorney no matter their economic status. Hourly cases, especially family and land use cases, present a much different problem. A client must pay an attorney a significant sum to proceed on an hourly basis. In some cases these amounts could be thousands upon thousands of dollars. If you have the money, then it is easy to find a quality attorney. Those less fortunate, however, cannot afford such an expense and often go into Court unrepresented. LLLTs could provide these less fortunate clients legal advice they need to do the basics, which may level the playing field a bit with those more fortunate.

                No matter what, it is fascinating how the legal field is trying to adjust to the quickness of media today, and trying to create greater access to justice. If you are concerned about your legal rights, contact the law offices of Parnell, Michels & McKay to see how we can help you.   

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What is Negligence and who is a Reasonable Person?

            A large number of personal injury claims are based, at least in part, on a theory of negligence. Negligent conduct is conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.

            To use an old logical saw, that ultimately begs the question of who a reasonably prudent person is. To some, the definition of that person comes as a surprise. The reasonably prudent person can sometimes be generalized as “Debbie Do-Gooder”. The reasonably prudent person stops completely at lights and stop signs. They signal a full 100 feet before making a turn. They always look both ways before turning, and never speed. This can be an intimidating prospect for some, as most people don’t operate that conservatively in their every day lives.

            This definition doesn’t stop with people driving cars either. A reasonable business owner salts the entrance to his business after every freeze. They shovel all snow from their pathways, and warn patrons of any dangers that could potentially affect them. They post warning signs, double and triple check food they make, and make sure they don’t hire anyone that could harm another.

            It’s a difficult idea to envision, and one our clients are always concerned with. If you have questions about liability at your business, feel free to contact our office today. If you’ve been injured, and need help, we provide free consultations in all injury cases. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Workers’ Compensation: How to Make Sure an Injured Employee is Getting What They Deserve

            Injuries happen to all of us. Often, a person will be injured at work as the result of the duties of their employment. It is at these times that an injured person must understand the workers’ compensation system, and how to protect your rights.
            When a person is injured at work, and they have to miss time, the first thing they should understand is that your medical visits are covered. If an injury occurs during the course of employment, then the workers’ compensation insurance carrier will be required to pay for the medical services provided for treatment of that injury. If the insurance carrier denies the payment of a medical bill, and the Department of Labor finds it should have been paid, the insurance carrier will also likely have to pay for the injured employee’s attorneys fees. This helps injured persons with little resources to help facilitate getting the legal help they need.
            The injured employee is also entitled to workers’ compensation wage benefits for the time they miss work. This figure is based on sixty percent (60%) of the average weekly wage of the injured person. Thus, if a person makes $1,000 a week in average weekly wages, they will be entitled to $600.00 per week in wage benefits. I
            The injured employee may also be entitled to compensation for any permanent impairment as a result of the work injury. This is commonly referred to as the “Permanent Impairment Award”. This is based on the disability the injured worker has, and the effect of that disability on their ability to work. A typical situation would be someone who lost a hand in an industrial accident, and now has a very serious permanent disability. The injured worker is entitled to a calculation based on the injury, the permanency of that injury, and the wages the worker was making before being injured.  All of these are factored into a complex calculation that compensates the injured employee for their permanent disability. Our firm will also help assist disabled persons in obtaining social security disability benefits, if they qualify.

            Workers’ Compensation law is complex, and requires the aid of an experienced attorney in navigating the system. Here at Parnell & McKay, we have been providing our learned and experienced advice to our workers’ compensation clients for over 20 years. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.