Harold T. was hit by a State vehicle, while working as a motorcycle escort for a funeral. The State employee cut through an opening in the funeral procession as he was riding alongside in order to get to his next traffic control post. Harold broke his knee and foot and tore his rotator cuff in the accident. He later developed excruciating pain in his legs. His orthopedist suspected CRPS, which is a peripheral nerve disorder that usually occurs after a traumatic event. We retained a CRPS specialist who, after much testing, confirmed the diagnosis and placed him in a multi-disciplinary pain management program, which helped him tolerate the chronic, stubborn pain. The insurance defense doctor said Harold did not have CPRS and, essentially, that he was faking, and required neither treatment nor medication. The first offer by the State was $100,000. We settled the case at a second mediation, shortly before trial, for $2,500,000.
Andre M. was badly injured by a motorist who failed to yield while making a left turn. He spent the next 11 months in and out of surgeries and confined to a wheelchair. Andre was immobilized, unable to provide for himself or his family, all while his expenses and staggering medical bills grew exponentially. The Defense tried every trick they could to tarnish the viability of Andre’s claim. They even called Andre’s mother to try and have her convince Andre to accept their low ball offers. The Defense alleged that his injuries were exaggerated due to pre-existing medical conditions, that he was drunk or high at the time of the accident, and that he was travelling at an excessive speed. None of these allegations had merit, nor were they supported by the evidence. All the defense arguments failed at mediation and the case settled for $2.25 million.
Janusz Z. was broadsided by a construction truck that failed to yield after stopping at a stop sign. Janusz did not have a stop sign and had the right of way. Hit full-on by a large truck, Janusz sustained severe crush injuries to his feet and ankles, a fractured hip, knee, ribs, and a liver laceration. He was in the hospital for 33 days. The severity of his injuries left Janusz permanently disabled–unable to return to work, provide for his family or live the very physical life he had enjoyed before the accident. An insurance company investigator visited Janusz in the Emergency Room to get a statement while he was heavily medicated, shortly after the accident. From the outset, the insurance company took the incredible stance that the accident was Janusz’ fault, and that he was grossly exaggerating his injuries. They denied all liability. They hired a private investigator right after the accident, before he even retained legal counsel, who followed and videoed Janusz for a total of 300 days, in an attempt to prove he was not truly injured. We fought tooth and nail to force a timely and fair settlement but ultimately had no choice but to go to trial. In the courtroom Defense counsel painted Janusz as a faker and malingerer but we presented the jury with the best expert witnesses, accident reconstructionist and skilled trial attorneys. Four years after the accident, the jury returned a verdict of $19,466,000 for Janusz.
Lauren B. was the passenger on a motorcycle when a piece of equipment that was not properly secured, fell off of the vehicle driving in front of them. The motorcycle swerved to avoid being struck and passenger Lauren B. was ejected in the subsequent crash. She sustained a fractured ankle and later developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in the lower part of her leg. CRPS is a serious medical condition caused by severe damage to the nerves, an injury that we are very familiar with but that insurance companies often refuse to acknowledge. The pain from CRPS is intense and chronic but not easy to prove. The insurance company refused the claim outright and the adjuster would not even pay for the damage to the motorcycle. We filed suit early on to protect Lauren’s interests and upon further investigation found that the vehicle had a known defect. Despite receiving recall notices to fix the problem, repairs were never made even though they were very inexpensive. This discovery along with the extensive damage to Lauren’s health and well-being after the accident resulted in a settlement of $3.5 million.
Mario C. was riding his motorcycle in the middle of 3 lanes of a surface street when a car pulled out of a gas station on his right and continued into his lane in front of him without signaling. Mario braked, locked up and went down with his bike landing on his leg. He sustained a broken knee and required surgery. The insurance company adjuster accepted, then denied, liability and did not accept that the degree of damage to Mario’s knee was that extensive. The final insurance offer was $137,000. We advised Mario not to settle for that amount and took the case to trial. The jury returned a verdict of $1.2 million. We also collected costs of more than $64,000 and more than $50,000 in additional interest.
James C. was riding his motorcycle on a surface street in the left lane when a pickup truck pulled out of a side street on his right and crossed into his lane, side swiping him and pushing him into oncoming lanes where he crashed at the curb. He suffered multiple orthopedic injuries from which he ultimately recovered, but he also suffered a head injury that continued to be problematic, affecting his daily life in subtle ways. The insurance company disputed the nature and extent of the head injury. The original offer was for $300,000, for the orthopedic injuries. We advised James to reject the offer and retained a neuropsychologist who conducted two days of testing on James. The results confirmed that James had suffered a traumatic brain injury. We also took the depositions of a close co-worker and James’ wife, who testified convincingly about the changes in James’ personality. The insurance company case settled shortly thereafter for the $1,000,000 policy limits.
Debra H. was riding her motorcycle on HWY 395 when a motorist, distracted by scenery, rear ended her. Debra and her bike were pushed approximately 30 feet before the bike flipped onto its side, then slid an additional 120 feet along the roadway before finally coming to a stop at the shoulder. After interviewing the parties and two witnesses as well as examining the physical evidence–the police officer on the scene concluded that the other motorist was solely at fault. Nevertheless, the insurance company challenged Debra’s extensive injuries. We refused to back down and fought for the value of Debra’s case. In the end, the insurance company agreed to tender the full $1 million policy limits.
$100,000 – SOFT TISSUE INJURIES
Maria and Jose S., a married Spanish-speaking couple with good case liability, had soft tissue injuries that typically do not result in a large financial recovery. They did not have much treatment and their medical bills were low, about $3,000 each. However, we realized that their permanent scarring was not well documented and asked them to come in to the office to get some better pictures. We ended up settling both their cases separately in the $50,000 range because of the quality of our demand package, which takes into account what insurance companies look for when they value cases. Needless to say, both clients were very happy with their recovery.
$45,000 – UM/UIM
Stacy L. suffered a badly injured leg after an accident with an underinsured motorist. We were able to negotiate the underinsured motorist’s full policy limits of $15,000, however the bigger problem proved to be Stacy’s own insurance company. Stacy’s personal insurance liability limit was $50,000; but her underinsured motorist limit was listed at only $15,000. We knew that according to California law, unless Stacy signed a UIM waiver agreeing to accept a UIM limit lower than her underlying liability limit, that she was entitled to a matching UIM limit up to $30,000. Stacy never signed a waiver, which meant she was due an additional $15,000 in coverage. We discussed this with her insurance adjuster, who claimed to be completely unaware of this law; many unspecialized lawyers are too. Our extensive knowledge of motorcycle accident law and our attention to detail gave Stacy the advantage as well as the additional $15,000 recovery she deserved.