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Benchmark Litigation has selected Richard E. Vollertsen as a 2017 Litigation Star in Alaska. His law firm, Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, was also selected by Benchmark as a recommended law firm in general and plaintiff’s personal injury litigation practice.

Richard E. Vollertsen of the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group has been selected by Best Lawyers of America as Alaska 2014-15 Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year. This is the second time Best Lawyers of America has selected Mr. Vollertsen for this honor.

Mr. Vollertsen was also selected for inclusion in the “Best Lawyers In America” 2015 publication. He is now in a distinguished group of attorneys listed in the publication for over 15 years. Selection to the “Best Lawyers In America” listing is based on exhaustive and rigorous peer-review evaluations by the top attorneys in the country.

Mr. Vollertsen, Neil O’Donnell, and Michael Moody of the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group have been selected for inclusion in the “Best Lawyers In America” 2015 publication. They have all also received the highest “A-V” ranking in Martindale-Hubbell, the oldest and best known lawyer ranking service. The Alaska Personal Injury Law Group focuses its efforts on serious personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Most people know that it is a good idea to hire an attorney when entering contracts, creating a will or trust, or engaging in litigation. What you may not know is that you can, and often should, hire an attorney for arbitrations. With increasing frequency contracts contain arbitration provisions that require you to resolve any dispute through arbitration rather than through litigation. For example, when you retain the services of a broker or sign a contract with your financial advisor, that contract likely contains a FINRA arbitration clause.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is an independent regulator of security advisors and securities firms doing business in the United States. When an investor seeks securities sales advice or purchases a security, such as stock, equity, or corporate bonds, the investor and his advisor and/or the securities firm enter into a contract. Typically the contract will include a provision stipulating that any dispute arising under the contract will be subject to the rules of FINRA.

When a conflict arises under the contract, such as if an advisor recommends an unsuitable investment, FINRA has three dispute resolution options: (1) the investor can file a complaint with FINRA against the advisor or the broker company, this is not litigation but allows FINRA to look into your complaint; (2) the investor can proceed to mediation; or (3) the investor can decide to arbitrate the conflict.

Sometimes even jaded lawyers are surprised by the arguments invented by the opposing party. The attorneys at the Alaska Personal Injury Group have handled a number of motorcycle collision cases, and I recently represented a motorcyclist who was injured in a “road rage” incident on the Glenn Highway. My client was riding his motorcycle in the recently resurfaced left hand lane. His friend on a second motorcycle was behind him. The asphalt had been stripped off in the adjacent lane to the right leaving the road surface in that lane extremely rough. “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” signs were placed at the beginning of the construction zone. The speed limit had been reduced from 65 to 55 miles per hour. The defendant was apparently in a hurry to get somewhere and pulled up within a few feet of my client’s motorcycle and tailgated closely behind him. When my client – doing the speed limit – declined to move over into the next lane with the stripped and rough road surface, the defendant swung his car around him and then cut back into the left lane right in front of my client. Not content with this threatening maneuver, the defendant then stood on his brakes skidding his car to a complete stop in the left hand lane of the Glenn Highway right in front of my client’s motorcycle. My client tried to stop his motorcycle before crashing into the car, with his rear wheel coming up off the pavement due to the rapid deceleration. The distance between the two vehicles was too close, the car’s breaking too severe, and the motorcycle impacted the car’s left rear bumper. The defendant emerged from his car yelling obscenities claiming that my client just rode up and smashed his motorcycle into the back of his car for no reason. The police were not impressed and cited the defendant for reckless driving and assault.

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I sued the defendant on behalf of my client for his injuries and property loss. The defendant stuck to his story. He claimed he had not braked at all before the motorcycle just drove up behind him and rammed the back of his car. This led to a tough question for the defendant: if you did not break before the collision, why are there long braking skid marks from your car leading up to the impact site with the single braking mark from the motorcycle up on its front wheel in between your skid marks? Having no good answer, the defendant finally decided he really did not want to tell this story to a jury. Indeed, he would have been far better off with the “I’m sorry, I don’t know what got into me” defense. At least that defense would not have also proved he was a liar.

The Alaska and American Bar Associations encourage all attorneys to provide pro bono legal services to the community and people in need. Atkinson Conway & Gagnon has made a concerted effort to fulfill its obligation to the community by partnering for the last five years with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and provide pro bono legal representation to victims of domestic assault who are seeking long term protective orders. In 2010, Atkinson Conway & Gagnon donated over 90 hours of legal assistance in the course of representing victims of domestic violence. Over the past five years, Atkinson Conway & Gagnon has donated over 294 hours in representing these victims.

The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence is an invaluable resource to the community. Made up of 17 programs, the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis hotlines, food, clothing, transportation, legal assistance, counseling, and community education. The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence’s website contains valuable information for victims of domestic violence, including many links to additional information available on the web.

The Alaska Court System also provides helpful information to individuals seeking protective orders at its Family Law Self-Help Center. The Family Law Self-Help Center provides links to the forms needed to obtain a protective order as well as a good description of the process.