Smith Wallis & Scott August 2018

AUG 2018

LEGAL INJURY GUIDE

327 Bankhead Hwy, Carrollton, GA 30117

WINNING CONFIDENCE IN THE COURTROOM

that any nerves I had were completely gone. It gave me the confidence I needed to become the attorney I am today. Having a case go to the state’s Supreme Court is a lengthy process, particularly in the realm of workers’ compensation. It starts in the usual way — you try your case, and the judge renders a decision. The losing side appeals the decision, then it goes to appellate division, and a decision is made there. If one side appeals this decision, it goes to Superior Court, then to Court of Appeals. At that point, if your appeal application is granted, Georgia Supreme Court will hear your case. Six months later, you get a decision. All in all, it can be a 3–4 year process, so you have to have a strong belief in what you’re doing. In our case, my client was a school bus driver who had a torn rotator cuff. The way benefits are calculated in this instance is to average the employee’s wages over the 13 weeks prior to the injury. If they haven’t worked for the past 13 weeks, compensation is calculated by looking at employees in a similar role and averaging those wages. In our client’s case, the 13 weeks hadn’t been completed because her injury occurred at the beginning of the school year, so they calculated her compensation amount by the contract wage for similarly situated jobs. However, during the summer, our client drove buses for the Bluebird company and made deliveries around the country at a much higher wage. Our argument was that as long as the wages had been earned in those 13 weeks, they should count toward her compensation rate. It was an important case for setting a new precedent in workers’ comp law. Our case worked its way up until the Georgia Supreme Court agreed to hear it and ultimately rule in our favor in Fulton County Board of Education v. Thomas, 299 Ga. 59 (2016). It was a huge moment of success for my client and anyone who has a similar workers’ comp issue. It also provided me a huge boost of confidence that has allowed me to become a better attorney. My amazing wife, Katie, and I live in Carrollton with our daughter, Polly, who’s 1. She’s so little! These days, she eagerly awaits for me to get home from work because it means she can play in the kiddy pool in our backyard. She loves jumping off the little slide, especially when I’m looking the other way. No matter how my day has gone, nothing beats coming home to the smile of my little girl. How I Got Over My Nerves

In school, I played baseball, football, and basketball. Unless you go pro, you need to find another outlet to feed that competitive desire. Law was the answer for me. But I wasn’t the kid who always knew they would become a lawyer. I actually planned to go to medical school because as a doctor, I could help people, and the work was something different every day. Then I went to Auburn for my undergrad. After I took my first physics class, I quickly realized that science was not my strong suit. I’ve always been good with writing and words, so I changed majors and realized law is also about helping people, while allowing me to solve new problems every day. I enjoy being in the courtroom because it feeds the competitiveness I developed in sports. Trials require you to constantly think on your feet. I pride myself on thinking quickly and having good reactions, but it’s definitely something I’ve honed along the way. The addition to going up against a trained adversary, knowing there will be a winner and a loser keeps me motivated to perform at a high level for my clients. During law school, I interned with Smith, Wallis, & Scott, and was offered a permanent position upon graduating. During my internships, I got to watch our experienced attorneys do what they do best. Still, observing can’t totally prepare you for doing. Luckily, our firm values hands-on experience. One week after being sworn in as an attorney, the firm let me try my first solo case so I could get my feet wet. I was thrown in head first and had to learn on the go, which I appreciate immensely. It was scary, of course, and it took a year of trying cases before I really felt comfortable with it. What really got me over my nerves, though, was a case I had two years ago when I argued in front of the Georgia Supreme Court. After that, I noticed

–Joseph Brown

1 (770) 214-2500

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