Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Health insurance is an everyday part of life for many of us. The Affordable Care Act was passed and signed into law due to the federal government’s recognition of just how interwoven health insurance is with health care in this country. One of those aspects in which health insurance interweaves with health care is the idea of an insurer’s “network” and a treatment carrying different prices, depending on whether the provider was “in network” or “out of network.” Thus, what if you are significantly injured in an auto accident? You likely will require a substantial amount of medical care, but, if you sue and receive compensation for your injuries, you won’t be responsible for paying the bills you rack up. Are you still responsible for limiting yourself to providers within your network? If you’ve been injured in an auto accident and find yourself in need of answers to these and other questions, contact a knowledgeable California truck accident attorney to discuss your options.

A recent case involving an injured passenger named Dave explored this scenario and provided some helpful guidance for people injured in California vehicle accidents. Dave was injured in a Ventura County auto accident caused by Jose, who was, at the time of the accident, an employee of an organics company. The RV driven by Dave’s wife developed a flat tire on a freeway, and the semi truck driven by Jose slammed into the rear of the RV, causing serious injuries to Dave’s face, teeth, neck, and lower back. He ultimately underwent a three-level spinal fusion surgery to address his back problems. Dave had insurance, and his insurer had a “network” of preferred providers. Dave, however, decided to seek care from providers who were outside his plan.

Eventually, Dave sued the organics company for Jose’s negligent driving. In his case, Dave sought a substantial award of medical expense damages. At trial, the injured man had documented proof of the medical bills he had amassed. At the trial’s end, the jury ruled in favor of Dave and awarded him $3.6 million in damages, including $269,000 in past medical expenses. With regard to medical expense damages, the jury awarded Dave the full billed amount that he established in his case.

People who are injured in auto accidents come in all shapes and sizes, varieties, and walks of life. Some are young, some old. Some are the “picture of health” before their accidents, while others have pre-existing conditions. If you are someone who has a pre-existing health problem, and you find yourself injured in a crash for which someone else was at fault, it is very important to act decisively and quickly. One thing you should do is retain an experienced California car accident lawyer. Just because you have pre-existing health problems doesn’t mean you cannot recover damages. In fact, depending on the facts of your case, the damages award you receive may include an amount to cover the extent to which your accident worsened your pre-existing condition.

One example of this was an action decided in Los Angeles Superior Court (Case No. BC557692) recently, which involved a scenario that is likely one of every parent’s nightmares. The child who would become the plaintiff in the case was sitting in the back seat of a vehicle, directly behind the driver’s seat. The driver was fully stopped at an intersection controlled by a stop sign. The defendant slammed into the stopped vehicle at a high rate of speed. The crash inflicted multiple fractures upon the child and also a traumatic brain injury, according to the plaintiff’s case.

The driver who rear-ended the vehicle with the child admitted liability and was determined to be 100% at fault. Medical professionals determined that the girl was a “4” on the coma scale (which translates to “severe traumatic brain injury”) at the scene of the accident and later assessed her as a “12” (which translates to “moderate traumatic brain injury”) at the hospital.

In some cases, a plaintiff might receive an offer of settlement in their auto accident case. In other cases, a plaintiff might receive a judgment and a damages award in their favor. However, sometimes, a plaintiff may be entitled to receive a jury verdict award and enforce the terms of a settlement. One recent Bay Area case was an example of how this worked.

The litigation in this instance arose from an August 2009 rear-end crash in Alameda County. Two men in the lead car sued for the injuries they suffered. Since the men were on the job when the accident occurred, a third-party vendor of their employer paid a portion of their expenses, leaving each man and the vendor pursuing claims against the rear driver.

 

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A Northern California mother, injured in a fiery crash when a street sweeper made a U-turn and hit her SUV, fought for nearly two years to obtain compensation for the harm she suffered. In the end, despite the defense’s attempts to paint the mother as partly at fault and its extremely low settlement offers, the jury found for the plaintiff and returned a damages award of $8.3 million for her past and future harm, according to the Napa Valley Register and juryverdictalert.com.

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When you’ve suffered harm as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are many important hurdles that you and your legal counsel must clear to obtain the compensation you deserve. You have to collect all of the factual evidence you need, navigate all of the required procedural steps, and then, at trial, put on your case and thwart all of the defenses the other side will offer. In a case from earlier this year, juryveridctalert.com reported that a San Bernardino County jury imposed $3.5 million in damages against a negligent driver who crashed head-on into a mom’s SUV, injuring her and killing her 16-year-old daughter. The parents succeeded in part because they successfully countered the at-fault driver’s defense that she was not liable due to a “sudden emergency.”

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Sometimes, legal concepts and rules are, in theory, based upon straightforward notions. For example, the law says that an injured person should be allowed to recover the “reasonable value” of the medical services she received as a result of her accident. This sounds like a direct and common-sense method, right? Unfortunately, these theoretically straightforward concepts can become highly complex in reality, especially given the ultra-complicated and byzantine system of medical billing and payment in this country. The Third District Court of Appeal tried to bring some clarity to this murky issue in a recent ruling, declaring that an injured plaintiff can use the full amount of a medical provider’s charges to establish “the reasonable value of the services” received.

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A man injured in a Southern California auto accident received approval from the Second District Court of Appeal to resume pursuing his negligence case against the driver who injured him. The appeals court overturned a dismissal of the injured man’s case on statute of limitations grounds, ruling that, since the paramedic who allegedly caused the accident was not in the act of providing services to a patient, the injured man had two years, rather than one, to file his lawsuit.

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A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling addressed a somewhat uncommon but nevertheless important situation. What happens when the judge in your injury case dismisses the jury but discovers, only minutes later, that the jury delivered a legally incorrect verdict? The high court’s recent decision concluded that, since the jury had not become tainted, and the judge had not issued a final judgment, the judge was allowed to bring the jury back, and the re-crafted verdict that the jury issued in favor of a man injured in an auto accident was allowed to stand.

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A California Court of Appeals addressed the issue of whether a nonrelative resident exclusion provision in an insurance policy should be upheld or struck as contrary to public policy. In the case, the driver and his college roommate, a passenger in the vehicle, were involved in a motor vehicle collision. The roommate brought a personal injury claim against the driver and the other motorist as a result of the injuries he sustained in the accident. The driver’s insurance company filed a complaint for declaratory relief, alleging that the roommate was defined as an “insured” under the policy and did not have a duty to indemnify the driver for the amount awarded to the roommate. The superior court found in favor of the insurer, and the parties appealed.

After reviewing the entirety of the record, the Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the insurance policy provision excluding the roommate from coverage was an overbroad expansion of a statutorily permitted exclusion for relative residents, and it was also contrary to public policy.

California law allows insurers to exclude claims for bodily injuries brought by an insured, with one of its goals to prevent fraud against insurance companies. In the case, the driver’s insurance policy defined insured to include residents who inhabit the same dwelling as the named insured. The policy thus excluded the driver’s roommate from coverage. In analyzing the law with respect to the insurance policy at issue, the Court of Appeal interpreted the relevant California statutory provisions together, holding that while they do provide authority for an insurer to exclude an insured, that person must have an insurable interest to be excluded.

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In a pivotal opinion reversing both the trial and appellate courts’ decisions, a California Supreme Court holding alleviates the burden on plaintiffs bringing a wrongful death action against the government based on an alleged dangerous condition of public property. The issue before the court in this case was whether the Government Claims Act requires a plaintiff to establish that a dangerous condition not only caused a decedent’s fatal injury but also the third-party conduct that brought about the accident. The court held that it did not.

In this case, the decedents were in a fatal car accident, in which a collision by another car forced their vehicle over the curb and onto the grassy center median of the boulevard, where the car hit one of several large magnolia trees in the median. Although they were all wearing seat belts, the driver and passengers died from their injuries. A jury subsequently convicted the other driver of vehicular manslaughter.

The plaintiffs filed a wrongful death action against the City of Los Angeles, alleging that the particular road constituted a dangerous condition because the magnolia trees on the median were too close to the roadway, posing an unreasonable risk of harm to drivers who lose control of their cars, and in this case causing the decedents’ fatal injuries. In support of their case, the plaintiffs submitted affidavits from several experts who stated that the proximity of the trees in the median to the roadway was a foreseeable danger to the public. In addition, the plaintiffs presented evidence of 142 accidents on the boulevard between 1998 and 2009, as well as publications discussing roadside safety. The city moved for summary judgment, arguing that the public property did not cause the accident, and the other driver did. The motion was granted by the trial court and upheld by the court of appeals.

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