133 – Michael Neff – Navigating Premises Liability Cases: Insights from a Seasoned Trial Lawyer

Premises cases can be a tough way to make a living. “It’s challenging, like medical malpractice, but with the right experts, with the right research, with the right resilience, you can win these cases.” 

On this episode of Trial Lawyer Nation, Michael Cowen speaks with Michael Neff, an experienced trial lawyer, about the oft-forgotten yet critically important and challenging area of tort law–premises liability law. He explains the kinds of cases that inflame his passions, how to succeed in premises liability law, and, of course, the importance of 7-inch stairs! Neff also briefly discusses his case against Snapchat, a cutting edge case he’s been working on outside of the premises liability realm.

Tune in for an in-depth discussion on premises liability law, insights on case selection, and how attorneys like Michael Neff work to secure sizable verdicts for clients with life-changing damages, ensuring the rules are followed.

Featured Guest

Name: Michael Neff

About: Michael is a trial lawyer with approximately 30 years of experience, who practices premises liability law, including ‘trip and fall’, ‘slip and fall’, negligent security, and much more. He is the founding partner of the Atlanta-based firm, Neff Injury Law, which has won over $100 million in jury verdicts for its clients. Outside of the courtroom, Michael is the author of Premises Liability: A Guide to Success and founder of the National Association of Premises Liability Attorneys (NAPLA).

Company: Neff Injury Law  Connect: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights 

[04:13] Defining premises cases: While slips and falls and trips and falls are the most basic of premises cases, premises liability also includes negligent security cases, water scald cases, Legionnaires cases, nursing home cases, and sexual assault cases.

[07:05] Winning premises liability cases: While Neff notes that trip and fall cases are generally easier cases to win, there are a number of questions that a premises liability attorney must have answered, including the condition of the property, whether there was a hazard, and whether it could have been mitigated or eliminated. At the end of the day, though, it’s all about ensuring folks are following the rules.

[09:38] Understanding the rules, including the building code: Neff explains the value of utilizing experts–including structural engineers, retired police officers, and others–to better understand and explain this practice area.

[12:20] Developing the theme of a case: In each case, there are always two sides of a story, but Neff explains that juries are simply not going to sympathize with a litigant who is making a lot of money and putting people in jeopardy.

[13:57] “Written in blood”: Neff recalls that an expert once told him that “the building code is written in blood.” Each of the rules that we are asking companies and individuals to follow was written as a result of someone having been killed or seriously injured, in order to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

[15:32] Winning negligent security cases: Neff illustrates how the issues of foreseeability and preventability of an accident are key in negligent security cases, where juries might tend to want to assess total blame to the criminal who committed the offense, when the company could have taken steps to mitigate or eliminate the risk.

[17:26] Screening cases: While economic viability for both the attorney and the client is important, ultimately, Neff only selects cases that he feels passionate about. His clients’ lives have been irrevocably changed by the circumstances of the case, so he feels a great sense of responsibility to ensure their wellbeing.

[23:19] Securing large damages for clients: Neff asks, who holds the power of preventing these damages from occurring–an individual or a corporation? Because corporations bear that responsibility, his job is to delineate the steps they could have taken and the ordinary care they should have used to prevent this injury and to keep it from happening again. 

[26:31] Excelling in premises liability law: In order to succeed in this practice area, Neff recommends investing in yourself, which may include joining organizations like his, the National Association of Premises Liability Attorneys (NAPLA).

[30:42] Suing Snapchat: Neff discusses a case he’s been litigating outside the premises liability realm in which a plaintiff is suing Snapchat over its speed filter, after being involved in a serious car wreck in which the other driver was using the app.

[38:21] Suing rideshare companies: Neff has also been litigating cases in which drivers for rideshare companies sexually assault their passengers. He explains that some of the challenges in these kinds of cases stem from the technological overlay and the fact that rideshare drivers are classified as independent contractors, not employees.

[42:54] NAPLA Updates: Neff shares that NAPLA just finished its first meeting in Chicago, which featured nineteen speakers over three days. Learn more about NAPLA at www.premisesliability.org

Connect with Trial Lawyer Nation

☑️ Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & LinkedIn.

☑️ Subscribe to Trial Lawyer Nation on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and YouTube.

In this popular and award-winning podcast for trial lawyers, noteworthy author, sought-after speaker, and renowned trial lawyer, Michael Cowen explores critical topics distinctive to the legal profession with some of the biggest names in the industry – specifically focused on developing extremely efficient law practices, securing a competitive edge in the industry, and wildly excelling in the courtroom.

Produced and Sponsored by LawPods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *