Book offers 'Lessons from a Life in the Law'
By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector
Monday, December 18, 2017
Attorney Bob Whitley of Kinston has written a book about his career as a civil attorney.
But it’s more than a book about his life history. It also can serve as a guide for anyone who might get injured in a car wreck, a work accident or other traumatic event.
The book called “Attorney on Call, Lessons from a Life in the Law,” is free and could be helpful for anyone thinking they might want to file a civil lawsuit.
In Chapter 3, Whitley answers the question, “Do I need a lawyer?”
“First of all — and this might surprise you — I do not think that most people who are involved in an accident and are injured, necessarily need to hire a lawyer,” he wrote.
However, if someone is injured It might be good to check with a lawyer, he wrote in his book. Many attorneys will talk to potential clients without charging a fee, Whitley said.
“I will say that everyone who is in an accident and has a claim of any kind, at least needs to consult with a lawyer to get information,” he said.
Whitley goes on to explain how to find a lawyer and what questions to ask.
In the midst of explaining the civil lawsuit process, Whitley also wrote about some of his cases, using them to illustrate his points. They included why he called himself, “The Porn King of Kinston,” (he represented a video store owner who was charged under the new state law regarding disseminating obscenity).
He also told the story of Alicia, who was killed in a car wreck in which the driver tried to shift the blame off of herself by telling everyone that Alicia had been the driver.
Whitley has a folksy manner and is easy to talk to. He set up his practice in his hometown of Kinston, where he started his career picking up any kind of work he could, including criminal and child support cases.
He wanted to narrow his focus as to what type of law he would practice and decided to become a personal injury lawyer.
“Quite frankly it was more profitable,” he said.
He found he had an inherent skill in relating to families who had experienced a serious injury and being their advocate, but he believes the wide variety of courtroom experience he had early in his career has been helpful, he said.
As times have changed, however, personal injury cases are less likely to be resolved in a courtroom. But that doesn’t mean Whitley doesn’t prepare a case as if he was going to present it to a jury.
Some of the empathy he feels for families who suffer tragedies came from when he was president of the student government when he was a student at East Carolina University. Southern Airways Flight 932 took off from an airport in Kinston carrying the Marshall Football team, their coaches, fans and boosters and crew after playing ECU. The plane, carrying 75 people, crashed as it was attempting to land in West Virginia, killing everyone aboard.
As the ECU student government president, Whitley attended the memorial service for the football team and saw the sorrow and anguish of those who lost loved ones.
The way the court system works now, when a personal injury suit is filed, it’s required that the attorneys enter mediation and try to work the case out before it goes to court.
“They didn’t have that back in the old days,” he said. “Any serious case that I have with serious injuries, I kind of start day one as if it was going to trial.”
He will go out to the scene, take photographs and videos, talk to experts, track down witnesses, study medical records and prepare the presentation he’ll give during the mediation hearing with the defendant’s or the insurance company’s attorneys.
If he’s done everything correctly, when they see his presentation, the defendant’s attorneys realize it would be a mistake for them to take the case to trial and they are able to settle it in favor of his clients, Whitley said.
“That’s part of the reason there’s a lot of intensive preparation,” he said.
Negotiating a settlement also can be beneficial to the client because juries have become skeptical about injury claims, he said.
He blames some of that on the “gaudy” advertisements that some attorneys use.
In the fourth chapter of his book, called “Driving Lessons,” Whitley gives tips for preventing accidents.
“It might be helpful to know — maybe scary to know — that a typical tractor trailer rig, for instance, traveling at 55 mph an hour, calculating for perception time, reaction time, and braking distance, takes more than 500 feet to stop from the time the driver first determines that he needs to stop,” Whitley wrote in his book.
He also tells what a person should do after an accident.
“I always encourage people not to seek unnecessary medical treatment or incur unnecessary medical expenses, but on the other hand, I also say that if there were ever a time in your life to err on the side of caution — on the side of being treated versus not being treated — it’s an automobile accident for which somebody else is responsible,” Whitley wrote.
To request a free copy of his book, go to: https://whitleylawfirm.com/whitley-book-giveaway/ or call 1-800-785-5000.