Community members speak out…
Justice is the Foundation of our Country
My name is Jeff Sbaih and I am a personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am licensed in both Utah and Nevada and help clients in both states try to obtain a fair recovery for the injuries they sustain as a result of someone else’s negligence. Many times, my clients do not have a plan in place in the event they are ever injured and cannot return to work. This difficult situation not only impacts their day to day lives, but it also impacts their access to the judicial system.
The cost of bringing a lawsuit has skyrocketed in the past decade. Insurance companies and corporations are routinely defending lawsuits in such a way so as to prolong the time necessary to resolve injury cases while making it very expensive for the injured person to prosecute their case. After all, the insurance companies and corporations have unlimited resources to defend cases and use those resources to delay resolution rather than fairly compensating injured victims.
My firm works hard to remedy that disparity by representing injured clients on a contingency fee basis, deferring collection of any attorney’s fees unless and until we are able to recover compensation for our injured client. We also advance the costs of litigation so our injured client does not have to bear the burdens and expenses associated with litigating their injury case. This helps remove the financial barrier to the justice system.
Unfortunately, this sort of fee arrangement is not found in all legal cases. In fact, it is the exception rather than the rule. The result is that people who require access to the judicial system will have to put forth their scarce resources to obtaining the justice they deserve. If they are unable to do so, they are left in a tough situation without any options.
I am a proud supporter and contributor to “And Justice for All” because it is an organization created to help fix this disparity. It helps people reach the courtroom who otherwise would not be able to do so on their own. It provides top-notch, experienced lawyers in the community devoting their time and effort to help make people’s lives better. By removing the financial barriers, “And Justice for All” helps people have their day in court. After all, justice is the foundation of our country and everyone should be able to access it, regardless of one’s wealth.
“And Justice For All” – It Matters
Closing the 13%/87% Gap
It matters when 67.5% of Utah’s low income households will face a civil dispute this year. A battered spouse needs protection. An abused child needs a safe place to live and grow. Another person may need a wheelchair or other disability benefits. It matters to the 13% of those who received legal assistance from an attorney who volunteered his/her time and skills to assist one in need. Unfortunately, it also matters to the 87% of those who cannot afford an attorney and will not be represented. Common sense and the respect for our legal system, the cornerstone of our way of living, demand that we close the “13%/87% Gap.”
Our way of life depends upon the individual’s respect for the Rule of Law. Most people obey traffic laws. Most people do pay their taxes. And most people do love their children. Without the individual’s respect for the Rule of Law anarchy and chaos will prevail and the “Law of the Jungle” will diminish our very humanity. When people do not obey the law, the result is that there are people whose rights have been violated. These people deserve justice. These people deserve a voice. Access to Justice for basic human rights should not require access to money.
The Scott/White family of lawyers is committed to the principal that access to justice matters. We have worked to resolve disputes involving landlords and tenants, military personnel whose homes have gone into foreclosure, requests from the disabled for medical benefits and the restoration of public benefits to the elderly. We are not large in numbers, but we believe that the little we do will matter to someone. We believe that the success of the Rule of Law depends upon a community’s ability to provide access to justice to all in need. We believe that the “13%/87% Gap will close, and as the “proximate cause thereof”, more good will come about.
The worth of a society can be measured by its willingness to give a voice to those who have been silenced for lack of monetary means. Our community becomes stronger when it lends a hand to those who have been crippled by a lack of confidence in our system of justice. And we all share an enhanced vision of humanity when we show others that we really do care. The Rule of Law depends on a healthy respect by all: the rich, the poor, the strong, and the weak. We all have our turn at being all of these people in some form or another. We all can help, and in turn, we all will need the help of others. That is our common birthright. Help to empower others. Join us in the journey. Give of your time, your talent or your money. Make it matter. We look forward to seeing you in court.
Kent B. Scott
Babcock Scott & Babcock PC
Representative Brian King, Attorney at Law
Utah House of Representatives, District 28
I make my living representing people who have had denied life, health, and disability claims. When their benefits are denied, most of my clients don’t know where to turn. Insurers routinely ignore questions and requests for information from their customers. Federal and state insurance laws provide little by way of substantive remedies when insurers stonewall claimants or give opaque explanations for why a claim is being denied. Working people can’t easily go through the judicial system alone. In what often ends up in a war of attrition, few individuals have the resources to win when going up against some of the largest corporations in the country. And the advantage insurers gain over a competitor by denying claims that would otherwise be paid may make the difference between a business’s survival or death in our market economy.
When the rewards associated with increasing profits by whatever means necessary become greater than the upside of honoring contracts, fleecing becomes inevitable. A free market without an effective and accessible civil justice system guarantees that fattening the bottom line by cutting corners rather than engaging in honest business practices will quickly become standard operating procedure. Without the ability to retain a lawyer and obtain meaningful remedies when promises are broken, individuals and companies who stand to benefit from engaging in marginal or clearly unscrupulous business tactics will proliferate. A healthy civil justice system that is capable of effectively adjudicating employment, consumer, and commercial disputes provides the assurance that those who violate agreements will be required to compensate people damaged by their actions.
In short, a robust judiciary is, in many ways, more effective than government regulation in policing the excesses of the free market.
We all have an interest in a world where sharp business practices are discouraged, where personal and financial security grows because insurance contracts are honored, and where the reasonable expectations of consumers are fulfilled. These are things every rational person would like to have in our society. But we’ll not see a strong economy with financial security for individuals and institutions unless and until every person has access to real civil justice.