Case: A 55-year- old Client was participating at his employer’s sponsored golf tournament. He was basically “at work.” While driving his golf cart from the 18th to the 19th Hole, Client encountered a service vehicle parked to the side of the golf cart path. The vehicle carried a trailer with tree branches sticking out from its side. While Client was maneuvering his golf cart past the service vehicle, a few branches sticking out from the trailer first bent and then snapped against the front of the golf cart. In the act of ducking to the side, to avoid being hit by those branches, Client’s foot slipped out of the golf cart and was crushed between the service vehicle and the golf cart. The accident caused a severe injury which led to surgery and permanent disability. As Client was at work, when the accident happened, he received medical and disability benefits under the Worker’s Compensation system. However, Client filed a lawsuit against the Golf Course, on the theory of premises liability and general negligence. I tried the case in association with my colleague, Eileen Rech Simon, of the Law Offices of Esra Jung, in Sunnivale.
The Defendant argued the Client was at fault for the accident, as he had been observed, by two witnesses, operating his golf cart while having his left foot dangling out. Defendant also argued that the presence of a golf course service vehicle on golf course was a risk “inherent” to the game of golf, a risk a golf player accepts when playing golf. During trial the judge denied Plaintiff’s motion to exclude a Primary Assumption of the Risk Jury Instruction, requested by the Defendant, basically holding that the presence of a service vehicle on a golf course path was not totally outside of the range of ordinary activities involved in the sport of golf. This was a killer Jury Instructions against the Plaintiff.
Expecting that our client would have been found contributory at fault for his accident, we proceeded to litigate the case through trial. We offered testimony that the Defendant Golf Course increased the risk inherent to the game of golf, when it allowed a service vehicle to be on the golf course path while players were engaged in a Golf Tournament. We also offered testimony that the golf course gardener was negligent in collection and piling up tree branches on his trailer, as to interfere with golf cart operation. In short, we moved ahead and passionately fought for our client against all odds.
At the end of a 3-week trial, a jury in Contra Costa County Superior Court returned a verdict for the total amount of $1,397,000. As expected, Client was found contributorily at fault for his accident. Regardless, we were able to recover $524,000 for our Client, an amount 6.5 times the amount of Defendant’s last settlement offer, which was extended 10 minutes before trial started. As the prevailing party, we were also able to recover $35,000 in trial costs.
Case: Client was injured when a heavy object fell on his shoulder, while at work. The accident caused an anterior labral tear of the left shoulder, which required two arthroscopic surgeries.
As Client decided to seek medical treatment outside the Worker’s Compensation system, the Defendant disputed the nature and extent of the injury, as well as the reasonableness and necessity of the medical treatment. The fact that the Client south medical attention from an independent Orthopedist, on a Medical Lien basis, led the Defendant to argue that the extensive and expensive medical attention was formulated to levitate medical bills and the potential value of the case.
We filed a lawsuit against the third-party tortfeasor, Sky Chefs and fully litigated the case holding our grounds on the reasonable and necessary medical treatment. The Worker’s Compensation Carrier filed an Action in Intervention to recover the Medical and Disability benefits, paid to the Client, under the WC system. We forced defense counsel to conduct discovery and successfully persuaded him that the jury would look at the undisputed liability aspect of the case, paying little or no attention to the motivation behind the disputed diagnosis and reasonableness of the medical treatment.
The matter was resolved during a full day of contentious mediation with JAMS. We obtained $300,000 for the client, in pain and suffering and past wage loss balance. An additional $75,000 were paid to the Worker’s Compensation carrier, in reimbursement of the $140,000 medical and disability benefits it had paid to the Client, under the WC claim.
Case: While dog-sitting for a family who was out of the country, Client fell into an unmarked trench in the backyard. She suffered a broken ankle, which required surgeries.
The Homeowner’s Insurance Carrier denied Client’s claim under the general liability portion of the Homeowner’s Policy, arguing that the Worker’s Compensation exclusive remedy applied, as client was injured “while at work.” For this reason, Client was offered medical and disability benefits, under the Worker’s Compensation rider of the Homeowner’s Policy, up to $100,000.
We filed a lawsuit claiming that Client’s case fit a clear exception to the Worker’s Compensation exclusive remedy rule. The case was litigated to the point that Defendant was ready to file a Motion for Summary Judgment, seeking to have Client’s lawsuit thrown out. The defense argument was based on a long forgotten legal principle, called the “Bunkhouse Rule,” which provided for the application of the Worker’s Compensation exclusive remedy. It took extensive legal research, legal analysis and zealous advocacy to prove to Defense counsel that the Bunkhouse Rule did not pertain to our case and that the Worker’s Compensation remedy was inapplicable as Client had not worked enough hours to qualify as an “employee,” under applicable sections of the California Labor Code.
The homeowner’s insurance carrier paid the $500,000 policy limits available to the responsible homeowner.
Case: Client was rear-ended by a pick-up truck, shortly after making a left turn into a main road, in Los Gatos. The collision destroyed her brand-new vehicle. Fortunately, she sustained only soft-tissue injuries.
Client’s personal injury claim had been denied by both the adverse driver’s and client’s insurance carriers, as their respective investigation had concluded that Client was at fault for the accident. In addition to having been denied her personal injury claim by the adverse insurance carrier, her own auto insurance carrier increased the insurance premium, as she was now considered a riskier driver. This threatened to compromise Client’s reliability at work, as her job duties required her to drive.
After the client retained my firm, we investigated the accident and conducted accident reconstruction analysis. Our work showed that the pick-up truck driver was at fault for the accident, due to excessive speed. We also located an independent eyewitness who signed a sworn declaration favoring Client.
We settled the case out of court for the policy limits available to at-fault pick-up truck driver. We also obtained additional monetary compensation from Client’s own insurance carrier, under the Under Insured Motorist coverage available to her. We made sure that her own auto liability insurance premiums did not increase and that her job was not jeopardized.
$73,000 settlement for a 50-year-old client who was hit by a car while crossing the street. Client was hospitalized for 4 days, as he suffered a non-displaced pubic rami fracture. He had a quick recovery and did not even attend physical therapy.
$100,000 policy limits settlement for a rear-end collision, which caused Client to suffer from intense back pain for several months.
$140,000 settlement for a Client hit by a vehicle in intersection. Client suffered a wrist injury which required surgery. No residual injuries.
$125,000 settlement for a passenger traveling in a vehicle which was involved in a traffic collision. Client suffered abdominal injuries which required hospitalization and surgery. The lack of independent witnesses prevented investigators to determine who was at fault for the accident. As such we were able to obtain policy limits from all Insurance carriers involved.
$100,000 policy limits settlement for a young man who, while riding his bike to work, was hit by a vehicle. The collision caused multiple rib fractures, a nondisplaced fracture of two cervical vertebrae, lung contusion and concussion without loss of consciousness. Client was taken to the hospital, where he stayed 3 days and then dismissed.