In the late ‘80s in Georgia, two attorneys named Ken Smith and James Wallis established a law firm after winning a very successful personal injury case. The case was argued in front of a jury and the victim’s compensation was over $800K, and was awarded in Fulton County, GA.
The case launched Smith and Wallis to begin their own practice, and the firm became well-respected for the attorneys’ strength and willingness to fight for their clients. I joined the firm in 1993 and it became known as Smith, Wallis & Scott. Today, we have two fantastic, younger, partners with Joseph Brown and Isabel Aidun.
New faces have joined the team, but we’re still rooted in the strong foundation Ken and Jim built. In addition to Social Security disability and workers’ compensation, personal injury law services remains a cornerstone of our practice.
When we speak with folks we’re representing on the Social Security and workers’ comp side of our practice, they’re often surprised to learn we also do personal injury law. Given the confines of Social Security disability and workers’ comp law, clients aren’t adequately compensated for pain and suffering. In personal injury law, we learn the extent to which an injury has affected a client’s life. We learn the intimate parts of their daily lives so we can best represent them and fight to secure them fair compensation for their injuries. We often feel we can do more for our clients in this area of law than in the other areas that where compensation is limited by the law’s constraints.
In a personal injury case, a person has been hurt by another party, and those injuries affect every living moment of their lives — sometimes temporarily, sometimes for years, and sometimes permanently. Personal injury clients often have their lives turned upside down; they’re not able to take care of their kids in the same way, and in some cases, they have to end their careers.
Some of the cases we’ve tried over the years have gone on to change state law in Georgia’s appellate courts. In the 90s’s, in the Floyd v. First Union case, the appellate court overturned the trial court in our client’s favor to allow a company’s net worth into evidence for the purpose of calculating punitive damages. And as recently as 2017, we successfully argued to the Georgia Court of Appeals that an automobile insurance company must honor its uninsured motorist policy and pay our client, despite the company’s argument that it did not have to pay and should get a set-off on any workers’ compensation payments another company made to our client. In that case both the trial court and the appellate court sided with our client against the automobile insurance company, allowing our client to receive the full value of his uninsured motorist policy. In 2014, we got one of the largest personal injury verdicts for cases tried in federal court in the Northern District of Florida. These verdicts and court opinions not only helped our clients, but set precedents that continue to help other victims of personal injury.
We’re always willing to fight for what’s right. We are not afraid to keep going after a verdict until we get the resolution our clients deserve. Thankfully, our firm has a reputation of doing a good job in personal injury as well as in workers’ compensation and Social Security disability. This makes it easier for us to resolve cases in out of court settlements and in obtaining awards through trials. Based on the results we have obtained for our clients over the years, insurance companies are often more willing to think realistically and deliberately about the claims they are defending than they might otherwise because they know we’ll fight it all the way.
When clients get all they need to assist with their pain and suffering, we feel justice has been done. Money helps folks take care of the financial aspects of their injuries, of course, but a jury voting in their favor also puts salve to those wounds and validates that juries — people — care about making wrongs right. And that is priceless.