London travel team partner and Anglo-American claims specialist Warren Collins has just returned from the mid-winter convention of AAJ (The American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America), held in Boca Raton, Florida.
British travellers make up the largest number of visitors to Florida (from outside North America) with 1.72 million Brits visiting the Sunshine State in 2015 (up by 8% on the previous year) and therefore the venue of the conference was ideal.
AAJ is the world’s leading organisation of personal injury lawyers made up of 56,000 members worldwide. It holds two conventions each year which give members an opportunity to attend numerous lectures, seminars, specialist litigation groups and work type practice meetings as well as to network and share information with lawyers from across the United States and Canada.
Warren Collins was one of only two UK based solicitors of several hundred delegates to attend the four day convention in Florida where he was able to see and hear about the latest cutting edge practices and strategies in the world of US state (and interstate), federal and cross-border cases that affect personal injury victims who are travellers to or from the United States. Warren represented the Penningtons Manches travel team at meetings, seminars and lectures covering international practice, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, medical malpractice and presentation of demonstrative evidence. While all the education delivered is equally relevant to travel cases across the globe, attendance at the convention enables the Penningtons Manches team to keep completely up to date on the most technical legal issues relating to American injury cases.
Among the key issues arising out of the conference were the rather complex arrangements for repayment of Medicare (the US national social insurance program for those Americans over the age of 65 or with disability, using about 30 different health care insurers across America). Although many readers will have assumed there is no state health system in the USA, Medicare funds around 47% of all inpatient hospital stays each year. However, the system is cumbersome and complex with different funds paying for different treatments and the compulsory repayment of state funded health care can be tricky (and potentially very expensive) for either the accident victim or the defendant’s insurer if the right steps are not taken at the appropriate time.
The practice of law is highly politicised in the United States with competing interest groups each having their own party allegiances. With the US presidential primaries in full swing, it was fascinating to see that Bill Clinton attended the convention to drum up support for Hillary amongst American lawyers.
Warren has been an active member of AAJ for more than a decade. He has served as co-chair of its International Practice Section and was founding co-chair of its Spinal Cord Injury Litigation Group. He also served as vice-chair and then chair of AAJ’s Section Leaders Council and has spoken at several AAJ conventions over the years. He is delighted to be speaking at AAJ’s next convention in Los Angeles in July 2016, where he has been asked to give a presentation on the UK Government’s obligations on disclosure and provision of information in international injury and clinical negligence claims. Warren will form part of a panel of international lawyers, each speaking about the law in their home jurisdictions, so that attendees will gain a truly global perspective of this fascinating and important legal topic.