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Premises Injury Law

Homeowners, landlords, owners of retail stores and other commercial establishements, managers of apartment complexex, and owners of commercial property are responsible for mainting safe premises. When a property owner
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Personal Injury

If you or a member of your family has sustained a serious injury or fatal injury, it is important that you discuss your case with as experienced lawyer to see that no source of compensation is overlooked. Often such an event will
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Motor Vehicle Accidents

Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injury in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you or members of your family were injured in an auto collision, you may be dealing with medical treatments, and medical
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Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorists

It has been estimated that roughly one in three California motorists either have no insurance or what they have is insufficient. If you are injured as a result of collision with one of these drivers,
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Sample Problems and Solutions

  • The other side completely denies any liability at all
  • The other side denies full liability, and claims that you, or some other person was partly at fault
  • The other side denies that you were injured
  • The other side denies the full extent of your injuries
  • The other side claims that your injuries pre-existed the accident, and were not caused by the accident
  • The other side denies all or some of your income loss
  • By using these and other excuses, the other side will almost always attempt to avoid compensating you fully for your losses.

    Reuben J. Donig specializes in addressing and solving these types of problems. To see specific sample cases where Reuben Donig has helped solve and overcome these sorts of problems, please click on the appropriate link.

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The following are samples of cases which I have handled, where willingness to work hard, be creative, and investigate all aspects of the client’s claim have paid off for the client: 

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

My clients were the parents of an 18 year-old boy who had just graduated from high school. He was in a car driven by a friend. The driver failed to properly negotiate a curve. There was a guardrail in place a the curve, specifically designed to prevent cars from going over the edge, down the embankment, and into the reservoir below. Unfortunately, for some inexplicable reason, the car jumped over the guardrail and went into the reservoir where it overturned. My client’s son, the passenger, was trapped in the car and drowned.

The driver of car was clearly at fault, but he and his family only had a $100,000.00 policy of insurance. My clients were understandably reluctant to press the driver’s family for more money, since the boys had been friends since childhood.

PROBLEMS PRESENTED:

1. Inadequate insurance on the part of the driver at fault;

2. Establishing that the carelessness of other parties played a role in causing the accident;

3. Establishing why a car would be launched over a guardrail rather than being repelled by it.

SOLUTION:

Through creative use of appropriate accident reconstruction, highway and guardrail experts, we were able to establish that the driver may have lost control in the first place due to the negligent operations of a quarry nearby, which allowed a build-up of dirt and debris on the road and under the guardrail, causing the guardrail to become ineffective. On that basis, we presented a claim against the quarry and against the County on the basis that they had created the dangerous roadway condition and failed to take care of and clean it up. Our experts demonstrated how such a condition could cause the vehicle to be launched over the guard rail.

Although the arguments we presented were vehemently contested by the County and the quarry, they ended up paying an additional $200,000.00 to settle the case, just after the commencement of trial.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In this case, Vera was walking across the parking lot of a supermarket, when she was struck by a motorist at slow speed. Her ankle was caught, and she was thrown to the ground. She suffered a fractured ankle. Vera initially went to another lawyer who advised her that she should consider settling the case for $25,000.00 to $50,000.00. She sought me out for a second opinion.

PROBLEM:

How an attorney can fully investigate all aspects of the client’s loss in order to obtain full compensation for the client.

SOLUTION:

I discussed the case with Vera’s treating doctor, and learned that the ankle fracture would probably lead to advanced arthritis within 15 or 20 years, which would be compounded by the fact that Vera spent most of her working hours on her feet. Based on the medical information which we developed, we established that the long-range effects of the injury was worse than initially assumed, and not only would require more extensive medical treatment down the road, but would undoubtedly affect Vera’s earning ability in the future as well.

Instead of settling the case for $25,000.00 or $50,000.00 as her first lawyer recommended, we were able to settle this case for $200,000.00, just prior to the commencement of trial.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In this case, David was badly injured when he was riding his motorcycle to work at the Oakland Airport. A confused elderly woman driving in the opposite direction, made a left-turn directly in front of him, and my client was unable to avoid colliding with her vehicle at a speed of approximately 35 m.p.h.  David suffered multiple fractures, some internal injuries, serious derangement in the knee, and multiple scars. From the outset, it was clear that David’s claim would be in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

Unfortunately, the driver only had a $100,000.00 policy, and very little in the way of assets in addition to her insurance policy. The $100,000.00 insurance policy was offered up in settlement immediately if we would thereby conclude the claim.

PROBLEM:

The person responsible for causing the accident appeared to have insufficient insurance available to compensate my client.

SOLUTION:

Instead of accepting the settlement, which the other driver’s insurance company was attempting to force upon my client, we searched thoroughly to see if there was any other theory or policy which might be available. After about four months of investigation, we discovered that at some prior point, the other driver had been named as an additional insured on her adult daughter’s homeowner umbrella policy, which had a $2,000,000.00 policy limit. Even though the mother had not lived with her daughter for a number of years, the insurance company had for some reason not taken the mother’s name off of the daughter’s policy, as an additional named insured.

Armed with this new information, we were able just before trial, to successfully make a demand on the umbrella policy, and were ultimately able to settle the case, not for the $100,000.00 initially offered, but for $1,600,000.00.

BASIC FACTS:

Kurt, a young man age 25, was injured while riding on his motorcycle, when a pick-up truck coming from the opposite direction made a left-hand turn directly in front of him. The truck driver was uninsured, and my client had only a minimal $15,000.00 uninsured motorist policy.

My client suffered a fracture scapula, lacerated liver, sternum fractures, and an injury to his knee.

PROBLEM:

The person responsible for causing the accident had no insurance, and my client had only $15,000.00 available under his own policy.

SOLUTION:

After investigation, it developed that my client’s father had a large umbrella insurance policy which contained uninsured motorist protection. My client and his father shared a house. By virtue of their relationship and living in the same household, I was able to include my client under the father’s policy, and obtain an additional $150,000.00 of settlement money for him.

OBTAINING COMPENSATION WHEN THE PARTY CAUSING A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT IS UNKNOWN

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In a number of cases, I have represented bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists who have been struck by motor vehicles which then have fled the scene (hit-and run).

PROBLEM:

A hit and run accident, where the person causing the accident is unknown.

SOLUTION:

Time and again by going through insurance policies available to the clients, we have uncovered availability of uninsured motorist vehicle coverage which often affords reasonable compensation. In case after case, have received significant results for clients, ranging from $15,000.00 to $500,000.00 under such policies.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In one case, Alex, a man in his early 20’s, was working at his job at the San Francisco Airport facility. While on the tarmac, a truck driver employed by a major airline carrier hit some parked vehicles, which were caused to move from the collision. My client was pinned between two vehicles, suffering hip fractures and urethral tears.

PROBLEM:

An on the job injury is subject to worker’s compensation remedies and limitations.

SOLUTION:

In spite of the fact that my client was injured while on the job, we were nevertheless able to negotiate a settlement with the airline for more than $500,000.00.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In this case, Stephen, injured himself while attempting to fend off an attack from an unfriendly dog owned by a neighbor. The dog had escaped and run to my client’s house, threatening my client’s wife who was watering the law in the front yard. As Stephen ran after the dog, he threw a plastic bottle at the dog in order to get the dog to run away. In doing so, he slipped and fell, injuring his back.

PROBLEM:

It appeared as though my client had caused his own injury, on his own property.  The defendants denied liability, claiming that the dog was not harmful, simply playful, and that my client himself had caused his own injury, since he had not actually been bitten by the dog.

SOLUTION:

Notwithstanding the defendant’s protestations, the defendants finally settled for $155,000.00, after commencement of trial.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

Angela, a ten year old girl, suffered a broken leg when she fell through the floor in the attic of her uncle’ home. The uncle had modified the floor to create a skylight for the room down below. Angela was injured when she stepped on the skylight, not realizing that it wasn’t part of the floor.

That case was settled for the policy limit of $100,000.00.

In another case, Kathy, walked onto the outside deck of a home which had just been purchased by her daughter and son-in-law. Kathleen was a fit woman, employed as a police officer by a local police force. As she walked across the deck, one of the planks gave way, causing her leg to plunge into the narrow four inch gap caused. She suffered excruciating skin injuries up to her mid thigh.

We were able to obtain a partial recovery of monetary damages from a prior owner of the home, but the amount available from that source was inadequate. We therefore made a claim against the daughter and son-in-law. Their policy was used to make up the balance of my client’s settlement.

PROBLEM:

Overcoming reluctance to make a claim against a friend or relative, and handling the claim in a way which does not harm that relationship.

SOLUTION:

In both cases, the client gave me the permission to make the claim against the close relative/family member, so long as I was able to do so by dealing exclusively with the insurance company, and without creating undue hardship or strained relationships with the family member. In both of these cases and in many other cases, I have been able to achieve good results for the client under similar circumstances.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In this case, my client David, was riding his bicycle, when he was struck by a motorist, suffering fractured sternum, assorted bruises and contusions, and some time lost from work. I had represented David for a previous injury case several years earlier. At that time, I happened to mention to him that he needed to upgrade his uninsured motorist coverage from its relatively low limit of $30,000.00. I provided him with a copy of articles I had written on the topic of uninsured motorist coverage.

The driver who struck David while he was riding his bicycle only carried a $15,000.00 policy, which was offered up immediately.

PROBLEM:

Too many people fail to protect themselves from uninsured or underinsured motorists.

SOLUTION:

The advice I had given him several years before, my client had previous to the accident contacted his insurance broker, and raised his uninsured motorist coverage from $30,000.00 to $100,000.00.

Because of the serious nature of my client’s injuries, we were able to turn to his own insurance company and presented an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim. Because my client had raised his uninsured motorist policy from $30,000.00 to $100,000.00 about a year earlier, we were able to successfully collect the $85,000.00 balance from his own insurance policy. Had he not raised his insurance limits beforehand, my client would have been limited to receiving another $15,000.00 from his uninsured motorist policy.

My client was very grateful for the advice which I gave him beforehand, which resulted in him achieving an extra $70,000.00 of coverage and award.

I have represented countless numbers of clients who received compensation in these kinds of cases. In one case, my client’s vehicle was struck by an uninsured driver, and she suffered a serious low back injury, including a bulging disc which pressed on a nerve in her low back. She underwent months of therapy, and a number of different procedures in an attempt to alleviate the pain. My client had a basic $100,000.00 uninsured motorist policy, and an additional $1,000,000.00 uninsured motorist policy had been written into her homeowner’s policy.

The insurance carrier disputed the severity of my client’s injury, and disputed further that the injury could have been caused by the motor vehicle accident. We submitted the matter to binding arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled in our favor, and awarded my client a total of $375,000.00.

I have spoken about and written articles on the topic of uninsured motorist coverage, and am able to help clients through the complications of the uninsured motorist process, where the situation arises.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In a case recently concluded, my clients’ young child was riding on a bicycle when he was hit and badly injured by an elderly woman who backed up her car without looking. Fortunately, the young boy recovered very well from his injuries. The driver had only $100,000.00 of available auto insurance, and no other insurance policy was available. The driver’s insurance carrier immediately offered my clients the $100,000.00 policy if they would sign a release.

PROBLEMS:

First Problem:

1. Frequently, the persons responsible for causing the accident do not have enough insurance, and no other insurance policy is available which owes coverage and compensation. Occasionally, in these cases, the party responsible for causing the injuries might have some additional assets which can be used to afford additional compensation.

Second Problem:

The medical expenses involved were more than $75,000.00 and the health insurance company was asserting a lien demanding reimbursement from the settlement proceeds.  The health insurer initially demanded $50,000.00 from the settlement proceeds.

SOLUTION TO FIRST PROBLEM:

I handled the claim, and after protracted negotiations, the elderly driver agreed to pay an additional $65,000.00 to settle the case for a net of $165,000.00.

SOLUTION TO SECOND PROBLEM:

I negotiated with the health insurance companies, and ultimately settled the medical lien claim for $15,000.00, representing a $60,000.00 reduction.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

In a case recently concluded, my clients’ young child was riding on a bicycle when he was hit and badly injured by an elderly woman who backed up her car without looking. Fortunately, the young boy recovered very well from his injuries. The driver had only $100,000.00 of available auto insurance, and no other insurance policy was available. The driver’s insurance carrier immediately offered my clients the $100,000.00 policy if they would sign a release.

PROBLEMS:

First Problem:

1. Frequently, the persons responsible for causing the accident do not have enough insurance, and no other insurance policy is available which owes coverage and compensation. Occasionally, in these cases, the party responsible for causing the injuries might have some additional assets which can be used to afford additional compensation.

Second Problem:

The medical expenses involved were more than $75,000.00 and the health insurance company was asserting a lien demanding reimbursement from the settlement proceeds.  The health insurer initially demanded $50,000.00 from the settlement proceeds.

SOLUTION TO FIRST PROBLEM:

I handled the claim, and after protracted negotiations, the elderly driver agreed to pay an additional $65,000.00 to settle the case for a net of $165,000.00.

SOLUTION TO SECOND PROBLEM:

I negotiated with the health insurance companies, and ultimately settled the medical lien claim for $15,000.00, representing a $60,000.00 reduction.

BASIC FACTS OF THE CASE:

My client, Ken, had purchased a pulley/hoist device from a hardware store which is a part of a large chain.

He was using the device in connection with some remodeling work which he was doing at his home.

As the hoist device was in the process of lifting and moving a 1,000 lb. overhead steel beam, the device malfunctioned, causing the rope to slip from the groove in the wheel, and the heavy beam to fall. My client was standing directly under the beam.

Fortunately, he was able to see that the beam was falling and would land on him, and he was able to jump out of the way just in time. Unfortunately, in jumping out of the way of the falling beam, he landed on a pile of roofing debris, and fell awkwardly, sustaining major wrist fractures.

PROBLEM:

The injury was sustained in an unusual way. Further problem was that the hardware store and manufacturer of the product denied liability, claiming that my client was using it in an improper way.

SOLUTION:

We developed sufficient testimony through expert and eyewitness evidence to establish that the device had in fact failed, was not being used in an unforeseeable manner, and that my client’s injuries were a natural result of proper and reasonable instinctive action taken by the client. We were able to settle the case for $170,000.00.

 

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