What Is An Appeal?

In Vermont, an appeal from the Superior Court (the trial court) goes directly to the Vermont Supreme Court. There are no intermediate appellate courts as there are in most states. This is because of the small population and relatively low amount of cases that are actually filed in Vermont courts and then appealed.

The appellate process is very complicated and although it can be done without an attorney, it is unwise to attempt this on your own.

Most cases are not appealed for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people are satisfied with the result, do not want to go to the further expense of an appeal or simply have had enough of the court process to engage in further litigation. Decisions to appeal should be made in conjunction with an attorney’s advice and cannot be made simply because a person does not like the result of their case in a lower court. The appeal is essentially based on mistakes by lower court judges that need to be corrected by the Supreme Court and are serious enough that they can be seen to have affected the outcome of the case.

Our main offices are in Bennington, Vermont and Manchester, Vermont and we handle cases anywhere there is jurisdiction in Vermont from Bennington to the Northeast Kingdom and all points in between. If we can be of service please feel free to contact us.

How Are State Court Judges Selected In Vermont?

State Superior Court judges are selected from lawyers who complete an application that is submitted to a judicial nominating committee which includes lay people, politicians and some lawyers. This committee makes the determination as to whether an attorney is “qualified” to have their nomination put forward to the governor. Once, the committee determined that only one applicant was “qualified”, leaving the governor with no choice but to select the person whose name has been forwarded but this is very rare. There is no specific definition of what constitutes a “qualified” applicant, and is left to the committee’s own determination. Generally, the committee forwards the names of several people for the governor to consider for appointment.

The exception to this process are Probate Judges. Probate Judges are elected and campaign for their posts. Probate Judges are also allowed to be both judges and practicing attorneys and previously did not even have to be licensed to practice law. There are recent changes in the organization of the court system which requires Probate Judges to now be licensed attorneys, but they are still elected.

The Vermont Supreme Court justices go through the same process that Superior Court Judges go through. “Side judges” exist in Vermont and are elected, but their duties in the court system have been greatly restricted in recent years.

We limit our practice to injury cases. If we can be of service please feel free to contact us at winburnlaw.com or toll free at 800-640-5100. We handle cases from Bennington to St. Albans, Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom to Brattleboro and all points in between.

How Long Does It Take To Get To Court In Vermont?

In most Superior Courts in Vermont, a civil suit will take between 12 to 18 months before your case is in front of a Judge and Jury after a lawsuit is filed. In rare circumstances, it is possible that it will take longer. Cases tried before judges without a jury can sometimes be quicker. Each county has a separate Superior Court staff and the wait time varies depending on the efficiency of the Court staff and the volume of cases in the county. Usually, cases are dealt with on a “first come, first served” basis and claimants essentially wait their turn.

Civil cases that are filed in Federal Court can sometimes be even quicker but there are certain standards that first have to be met for Federal Court jurisdiction to apply and most civil cases are not eligible for filing in Federal Court. Federal Court requires what is called “Early Neutral Evaluation” which encourages litigants to attempt settlement sooner than State Court.

There are urban legends about how cases take five to ten years to actually reach a conclusion and this may be true in other states. However, in Vermont, it would be extremely unusual for a case to take that long after filing to reach a conclusion.

We handle tort law (personal injury) cases from Bennington to St. Albans, Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom to Brattleboro and all points in between. If we can be of service please feel free to click on our “Contact Us’ page at winburnlaw.com or call toll free at 800-640-5100.

How Viable Are Ski Cases To Pursue In Vermont?

The Vermont legislature has made it very difficult to pursue ski accident cases in Vermont. Presumably, the ski industry lobbied heavily for restrictive laws and the legislature wanted to encourage the success and profitability of ski areas. This is not to say that no ski claims are won in the State of Vermont. Each case stands on its own merits – but the legislature has stacked the odds against a claimant.

For example, the statute of limitations (the time-limit for filing lawsuits) is only one year from the date of the accident which is in itself highly restrictive. There can be exceptions to this but they are rare. When the case is presented to a jury the Judge will tell the jury to follow the state statutes which essentially say that anything that is inherent in the sport of skiing is a risk that the skier has assumed and cannot be the ski area’s fault. The interpretation of what risks are inherent in the sport of skiing are generally extremely broad and make it very difficult for a claimant to be successful in a ski case.

There are an entirely different set of rules applicable to cases where people have been injured in chair lifts or on snowmobiles which adhere to normal negligence laws that are far less restrictive and adhere to different rules.

Winburn Law Offices accepts cases throughout the State of Vermont and limit our practice to personal injury. We have tried cases from St. Albans in the northern part of the state to Bennington in the southern part of the state and in most points in between including Rutland, Burlington, Woodstock, Brattleboro and the Northeast Kingdom.

If I Am Involved In A Car Accident In Vermont But The Person At Fault Does Not Live In Vermont Where Can I Make My Claim?

People who use the roads of Vermont subject themselves to the jurisdiction of the state if they are involved in a car accident under Vermont law. For example, if you live in Manchester, Vermont and are involved in a car accident with someone from California, the California driver is subject to being sued in Vermont. Depending on the factual scenario, it may be that the California driver could be sued elsewhere as well but a Vermonter will generally want to file their claim in their own state.

Almost all car accident claims are really insurance claims. Insurance companies are responsible for their insured’s actions regardless of where they are driving in the United States.

If we can be of assistance to you making your claim, feel free to contact us at any time.

If I Do Not Live In Vermont, Can I Make A Car Accident Claim?

Many people from out-of-state visit Vermont and unfortunately are involved in automobile accidents here. No matter where you live, you have a right to make a claim for that accident in Vermont under Vermont law.

Of course, cases can be settled without filing a lawsuit and most insurance companies have branch offices throughout the United States and their local branch will handle your claim.

Our office only handles personal injury matters and we deal with insurance companies on behalf of our clients so that they never have to actually have contact with them.

If you have been involved in a car accident in Vermont, we would be pleased to speak to you and further advise you as to the merit of your case. We handle cases from Bennington to St. Albans, Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom to Brattleboro and all points in between.

Are All Insurance Companies The Same?

Although there are a few exceptions, most insurance companies are pretty much the same. If you never make a claim and send them premiums they are happy. If you have to make a claim and the claim is a small one (property damage for a vehicle for example) they may be reasonable to deal with. Whenever there is a bodily injury claim they are generally difficult to deal with because their profits are made from paying as little money as possible to claimants. If they can pay a small amount or nothing at all, then they make money and have achieved their goal.

The way insurance companies make money is by accepting premiums and not paying claims. The more money they take in and the less they pay out, the larger the profit.

Generally, the worst insurance companies to deal with are the ones that advertise the most. The few insurance companies that are customer friendly are ones that no one ever hears about because they put their resources into dealing fairly with claims. They do not pay for sponsoring advertising that includes cartoon characters, advertising jingles and other marketing techniques.

Our law firm only handles personal injury claims and we practice throughout the State of Vermont. Our main offices are in Bennington and Manchester, Vermont and we only practice in Vermont. If we can help click on the “Contact Us” page above or call us toll free at 800-640-5100.

What Is A Tort?

A “tort” is a legal word that essentially means a “wrong” that has been committed against a person. Examples of torts are automobile accidents, medical negligence, dog bites, ski accidents, cases involving defectively-made products, and most negligent acts.

There is even a museum dedicated to tort law in Northern Connecticut called the American Museum of Tort Law. It was started by Ralph Nader who famously proved that the Corvair automobile was “unsafe at any speed” and needlessly killed and maimed people because of its poor design. They can be found at tortmuseum.org and the website contains a lot of useful factual information about the truth behind myths about cases that seem to be accepted as “truths.”

Our law office only handles tort law (personal injury) and we practice throughout the State of Vermont. If we can be of service please feel free to contact us at winburnlaw.com or toll free at 800-640-5100.

Is The Owner of A Dog Immune From Being Sued If The Dog Has Never Bitten Anyone Before?

In Vermont, the simple answer is “no.” The issue to be determined is whether or not the dog has shown any dangerous propensities in the past that would cause the owner of the dog to have notice that their dog might bite someone. There is a myth that “all dogs are entitled to one free bite” among some lawyers. That may well be the law in some states – but not in Vermont.

Although we all love our dogs, as owners we are responsible for their behavior and making sure that others are safe when around them. Usually the homeowner’s insurance policy covers any damage done to a person by a dog. As with most cases, dog bite cases are really cases against the insurance company of the owner of the dog, although the facts have to be proven to show responsibility on the part of the dog owner.

We handle cases throughout the state of Vermont and limit our practice to injury cases. If we can help, feel free to contact us.

Should I Try to Negotiate with an Insurance Company If I Have Been Involved in an Accident?

Most people are contacted by an insurance company after an accident. People often wonder whether they should try to negotiate their own claim or hire an attorney. The insurance company knows the rules and most people do not. It is like playing football where one side knows the rules and the other side does not. What are the chances that you will win? Hiring an attorney equalizes the playing field and gives you the information and advice you need to make an informed decision.

Wherever you live – in Bennington, Burlington, Brattleboro, Rutland, Woodstock, St. Albans, Montpelier, Manchester, Springfield, the Northeast Kingdom or out-of-state, if you have had an accident in Vermont, we can help. If you have a personal injury problem feel free to contact us.