Many erroneously believe the legal stereotype of hawkish, aggressive attorneys who just want to make a buck off of their clients. The truth is, though, most lawyers choose the legal profession because they’re driven by a passion for justice and a deep-rooted desire to help others.
For example, take Brandon Yosha of Yosha Law in Indianapolis, Indiana. In his new book, From Running Back to Giving Back: A Lineage of Civil Advocacy, Brandon discusses the battles he and his father, attorney Buddy Yosha, are committed to fighting for the victims of negligence.
Let’s look at Brandon’s profound journey and take a deep dive into legal success stories that highlight some of the most important reformations in personal injury (or tort) law.
An Indianapolis attorney who cares
In college, Brandon Yosha poured his passion into life on the gridiron, and lived for football. He has since translated this passion into a fight for transformative justice and personal injury law reform.
For example, in 2023, after states like Maryland and Colorado expanded “move over” laws to ensure the safety of both emergency vehicles and all other vehicles pulled over on the shoulder of highways and roads, Brandon helped to spearhead the Norah’s Law campaign to ensure Indiana’s laws are expanded well.
Drivers who fail to follow the Move Over law can face a hefty fine and a Class B infraction on their licenses.
The reason for Norah’s Law
In 2022, three-year-old Norah Owens was tragically killed in a car crash along I-65 in Franklin, Indiana. Norah’s mom, Lindsey’s vehicle was stalled and her flashers were on. She and Norah waited for help as most traffic safely switched lanes and slowed down to avoid hitting the mother and her daughter.
A pick-up truck slammed into the back of Lindsey’s car and killed little Norah before her life had a chance to begin. Egregiously, no one was charged in the accident.
Brandon Yosha’s compassion for Norah’s family
Brandon Yosha cares deeply for Norah’s loved ones and wanted to ensure they found justice for the unimaginable loss they’ve experienced. From Brandon’s perspective, Norah’s family became members of his extended family. He worked alongside them to ensure other families can be protected from the same fate.
When Norah’s mom, Lindsey, reached out to Brandon, it was the hardest call he’s ever taken. He resolved to do whatever he could to promote Norah’s Law and to honor the legacy that Norah leaves behind.
Brandon Yosha advocates for change in Indiana Law
Brandon fought tirelessly to expand Indiana laws to include criminal repercussions for drivers who fail to slow down and move over and to protect and save many lives.
Beginning July 1, 2023, the Indiana “Move Over” law (which protects emergency vehicles pulled over on Indiana’s roads) now includes any pulled over vehicles. Drivers must change lanes and slow down when passing any disabled vehicles on the road.
Below, you’ll find examples of other legal success stories that led to personal injury law (also known as tort law) reform.
Erin Brokovich and the fight for the voiceless
Perhaps the most famous of modern day legal success stories, you’re likely aware of the story of Erin Brokovich, and the eponymous film about her pursuit of justice, starring Julia Roberts as Brokovich. When Brokovich took on the fight against Pacific Gas and Electric Company for the people of Hinkley, California, she wasn’t a lawyer — she just worked for one.
Along with her attorney boss, Ed Masery, Brokovich gave back by fighting tirelessly for Hinkley’s working-class families: She researched the rampant examples of unexplained illness plaguing Hinkley residents, and took on a utilities giant.
On their behalf, she filed a class action lawsuit against PG & E which called attention to the hazards that infiltrate US tap water systems, and the case was settled for $333 million (at the time, the largest class action settlement ever awarded). Today, Brokovich continues to fight for the voiceless.
In a 2020 interview with the Today Show, Brokovich said, “The most important thing you need to do — it does not matter your gender, the color of your skin, the money you have in the bank account, your politics — you have got to find your voice.”
Grimshaw vs Ford marked a change in liability cases
In 1978, the Ford Motor Company was found responsible for $127.8 million in damages for the wrongful death of Ford Pinto driver Lily Gray and the personal injuries sustained by her 13-year-old passenger, Richard Grimshaw. Gray’s 1972 Pinto burst into flames after she was rear-ended.
The resulting lawsuit, Grimshaw v. Ford, proved the duty to safety and standard of care required of auto manufacturers. At the time, the amount awarded to Gray and Grimshaw’s families marked the highest personal injury and product liability compensation ever.
The case showed auto manufacturers that ignoring safety concerns could result in huge financial hits.
Miramon v. Bradley made the case for emotional distress
In Miramon v. Bradley, the courts found in favor of a college student named Julie Miramon, who claimed she suffered severe, diagnosable emotional distress (including anxiety and an eating disorder) after two separate car accidents.
Miramon’s first accident, which occurred in 1988, was severe but didn’t result in significant physical injury. Her second accident, which occurred in 1990, was considered a minor accident. However, Miramon sought treatment from many doctors and therapists who contended that her psychological conditions were, in fact, caused by her car accidents.
Although Julie Miramon didn’t win in trial, the appellate court found that she was entitled to damages. The amount she was awarded was small. Nevertheless, the case was extremely significant as it confirmed that although often overlooked, emotional trauma could present undue suffering due to a personal injury accident. Miramon v. Bradley set an important precedent for emotional distress as a cause for damages.
The case of the hot coffee
Liebeck v. McDonald’s represents one of the most important cases in the history of personal injury and product liability law reformation, and one of most public legal success stories. Yes, this is the case about spilled hot coffee, but this lawsuit was no joke.
In 1994, then 79-year-old Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns on 16% of her body after accidentally spilling a scalding hot cup of coffee from McDonald’s all over herself. Doctors testified that Leibeck’s burns took less than three seconds post-spill to materialize. After the incident, Liebeck required over two years of medical treatment.
Although Liebeck initially attempted to settle with the fast food giant for the amount of her medical expenses only, the corporation refused. As a result, the violations of safety protocols (McDonald’s restaurants kept their coffee pots heated between a staggering 180°F to 190°F) were exposed, and the case cost the company over $2.7 million in damages.
Running back to giving back
Although some of the legal success stories mentioned above involved large settlements, none were solely about the money: Each case marked an important personal injury lawsuit milestone.
Check out Brandon Yosha’s book for a more in-depth look at how Running Back to Give Back: A Lineage of Civil Advocacy takes a deep dive into legal success stories and the hard-working lawyers behind them.