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  • Case Spotlight: Dunlap v. Esurance, $11,400,000 verdict

    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento & Elk Grove CA recently took a very interesting case to trial that may have a huge impact on personal injury cases in the future. Our client, Robert Dunlap was driving a truck owned by William Chapman when the steering locked up. He lost control of the vehicle, and hit the center median. The truck rolled two and a half times and landed upside down with Mr. Dunlap hanging from his seatbelt.

    Mr. Dunlap survived the crash, but he was gravely injured. He suffered two disc fractures, one at C6 and the other at C7, and was diagnosed with Brown Sequard Syndrome, a type of paralysis. Mr. Dunlap experienced numbness on his right side, stiffness, cramping, sharp pains, loss of feeling in his left hand, right hip pain, respiratory distress, and pulmonary contusions.

    A very bad crash, to be sure, but what is so important about this case?

    The fact that the steering on the truck had been complained about multiple times and no steps had been taken to fix it. In fact, the defendant in this case, Folsom Lake Ford, outright said that the truck was safe to drive when they knew there four worn ball joints in the vehicle that needed to be replaced. Documents showed that the mechanic who inspected the vehicle in July 2007 noticed the worn ball joints, but no recommendation was made to the owner to replace them.

    A prior owner of the vehicle, Mr. Sample, actually returned the truck to Folsom Lake Ford because he didn’t like all the problems he was having with it. In deposition he stated Folsom Lake Ford tried to tell him the shaking and steering problems Mr. Sample reported was because he had oversized tires on the truck. While having a lifted truck may change the steering, it doesn’t cause it lock up and not move at all. Mr. Sample knew this and got fed up with the truck and Folsom Lake Ford’s excuses. He turned the truck in and left with a different one.

    Mr. Chapman was the next person to buy the truck. When he brought it in to complain about the steering in July 2007, again, Folsom Lake Ford said it was the oversized tires, even though documentation noted the worn ball joints. The mechanic, unbeknownst to Mr. Chapman made a recommendation to replace the worn ball joints, but this was not relayed to Mr. Chapman in any form. Mr. Chapman continued to experience problems with the steering but believed the ASE certified mechanic when he told him it was safe. Under those promises of safety, he leant the truck to Mr. Dunlap in November 2007.

    All of this information is important because it shows that the defendant Folsom Lake Ford knew the vehicle was in a dangerous condition and they could have prevented this horrific crash by recommending the repair it needed. All Folsom Lake Ford would have needed to do was say hey "you need to fix this, it’s not safe" in order to protect themselves. But they didn’t and that put people at risk. They put Mr. Chapman at risk, his family at risk, and his friend, Robert Dunlap, at risk.

    The jury found Folsom Lake Ford liable for the harms suffered by Mr. and Mrs. Dunlap and returned a verdict in favor of the Plaintiffs in the amount of $7,476,926.00, with interest and costs added in the verdict is over $11,400,000.00. This is important because it shows businesses and car dealerships that you can’t cut corners. If you know a problem exists, it’s your responsibility to address it. You can’t put your head in the sand, blame oversized tires, and pretend a vehicle is safe just so you can sell it and make another buck. This jury showed that California juries will not stand for that kind of behavior. And neither will we here at the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin.

  • Traumatic Brain Injury: Suffering in Silence

    At the personal injury law offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California, we encounter many types of injuries that are caused by different kinds of incidents. There are, of course, typical complaints that we would expect if someone is in a car accident, including pain and stiffness in the neck or lower back. However, as of late, we are seeing more and more clients with symptoms like sleepiness, headaches, difficultly concentrating, and dizziness which may indicate that an injury to the brain has occurred.

    There are often complaints of fatigue and anxiety that can appear from a traumatic incident, but these typically disappear within two weeks or so. If a person continues to suffer from neurological symptoms it is important to get checked out. There are different types of brain injuries and there are treatments that can be used to lessen the impact of the incident.

    Post-Concussive Syndrome is by far the most commonly undiagnosed brain injury because the symptoms can be very mild. Most people can recover with rest and by minimizing stress, but life after a collision can be very stressful. While you are trying to get your car fixed, trying to make doctors appointments, and trying to continue to work through the pain, it is easy to overlook the importance of rest. Patients with persistent post-concussion syndrome may be treated with migraine medication or referred to a neurologist for treatment.

    You don’t need to lose consciousness in order to suffer a concussion. The word comes from the Latin concutere, which means “to shake violently”. It is caused by a sudden, direct blow to the head. If your head didn’t strike a portion of your car, you probably didn’t suffer a concussion, but many people strike the head rest and don’t really even think about it.

    Traumatic brain injuries can sometimes be very serious and effect your daily living. Cognitive testing is often used to determine to what degree a patient’s thinking capabilities have been affected. Physical abilities are also affected as it is the brain that controls the rest of the body. CT scans and MRIs are also used to find bleeding, bruises, aneurysms, or skull fractures. If treatment is necessary, doctors may recommend physical therapy, counseling, and/or medication.

    These symptoms are often overlooked by clients who have pain elsewhere. It’s often the lesser of two evils and people do not notice they even have these symptoms until their painful symptoms have subsided. It is important to be honest with your doctors and tell them everything that is going on after you’ve been in a traumatic event.

    Can’t sleep at night? They may be able to help. Sleeping too much? Again, talk to your doctor. Dizziness? Headaches? Double vision? Ringing in the ears? Difficulty with speech? Difficulty finding words? Difficulty concentrating? Take stock of every symptom and let your doctor know so that he can provide the best treatment for you.

    Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California today. 

  • I have been in a crash, now what?

    If you have been in a collision there is certain information you need to exchange with the other parties. In California, by law, under Vehicle Code section 16025, you must exchange:

    1. Driver’s name

    2. Driver’s current residence address

    3. Driver’s license number

    4. Vehicle identification number

    5. Owner’s name

    6. Owner’s current residence address

    7. Evidence of financial responsibility, such as company name, address, and policy number of valid automobile insurance

    If you do not exchange this information, you can be charged with violation of this code section and fined. Some people type up this information on an index card that they can hand to somebody, but I would be wary of just accepting something like that at face value. People move, owners change, and policies can lapse. An up-to-date proof of insurance card holds more weight.

    Also, you should write down the information yourself if possible. Take notes on your phone if you do not have pen or paper. You can even send yourself a quick e-mail with the information so you have it in two places. If you allow them to write it down for you, they may lie, transpose numbers, or purposely give you the wrong information. Ask to see their driver’s license and write down the information. Be sure to note if the license is valid because those expire too.

    This list is only what is required by law. If you are in a collision, we recommend you get as much information at possible. It becomes much easier later on if you know exactly who hit you. Once a case is filed, the Defendant needs to be personally served. In order to do that we need to know where they live. It can be expensive to hire a private investigator to hunt these people down, so it is a good idea to get the information when the collision happens.

    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin has designed a fillable form to make this sometimes awkward process easier. You can print it off and keep in your car. If you do happen to get in a collision, fill it out, and you will have a head start. If you are hurt, call us, and we'll help you.

    Exchange of Information Form

  • Case Spotlight: Dog Attack Jury Verdict of $205,000.00

    On March 14, 2015, Alan Laskin began a trial in Sacramento County concerning a woman who was attacked by two dogs. She was knocked down into a drainage ditch on the side of the road. The dogs were run off by a neighbor who rescued our client by pulling her over the fence onto his property.

    These dogs were known menaces in the neighborhood and their owner, the defendant, did nothing to protect the public from their violent behavior. The defendant tried to claim that it wasn’t his dogs that perpetrated the attack, but our client was sure they had come from the defendant’s yard. The home insurance company sided with their insured and fought the claim tooth and nail.

    Despite multiple anecdotes from neighbors detailing the violent history of the dogs in question, the defense refused to move from their stance of denial. Early on in the case we served an Offer to Compromise Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure   998 for $79,999.99. This is a very serious offer for settlement because to make it or reject it comes with consequences. The offer was rejected.

    Right before trial, we made another 998 offer. This time for $39,999.99. Our client did not want to deal with the stress of going to trial and we honored her request to try and settle the case. It was no use though, the defendant’s attorney rejected that offer as well.

    During trial, the defendant continued to claim that our client was lying. He then stated that every witness that testified against him was lying, including the neighbor that saved our client. We had to subpoena practically the whole neighborhood, but everyone was in agreement that the defendant’s dogs were violent and uncontrolled. The defendant’s attitude that he just didn’t care that his dogs had injured this woman came across to the jury and in the end, they sided with our client.

    Alan even had a very “Perry Mason” moment. While questioning the veterinarian hired by the defense to say it couldn’t have been the defendant’s dog that bit our client because of the dog’s poor health, it was revealed that the subject dog was missing a tooth. The vet testified that it would have a different bite pattern than a dog with all of its teeth. Alan then showed a picture of one of the puncture wounds on the client and asked her if it would look like this (the picture showed two punctures, a space, and then a third puncture). The vet agreed that a bite mark from the defendant’s dog would look like the picture. We believe that was the nail in the coffin moment for the jury. There was no doubt that it was the defendant’s dogs that attacked.

    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin always endeavors to do right by our clients. In this case, our client did not want to go to trial and would have accepted a much lower amount to avoid the stress. We made the offer on her behalf and she was incredibly fortunate that the defense did not take it. At trial the truth prevailed and the jury awarded $165,000.00 over what our client would have accepted.

  • Case Spotlight: $250,000.00 Policy Limits Settlement

    Our client injured her back in a car collision in November 2013. She underwent conservative treatment, but it did not help her symptoms. She underwent surgery on May 13, 2014. The surgery reduced some of her symptoms, but her back continued to be extremely painful. After an x-ray and another MRI the cause was finally revealed, there was an infection in her spine.

    Throughout our client’s treatment, the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California had requested that the adverse party disclose their policy limits multiple times. We sent medical records showing the conservative treatment, the injections my client underwent, and even the necessary surgery. Nothing moved the adverse party and the insurance company was not allowed to disclose the limit.

    However, once the infection in her spine was revealed, the policy was no longer our biggest concern. Her doctor immediately installed a pick line in her arm in order to effectively administer the antibiotics and referred our client to a specialist who would monitor her treatment for the life-threatening infection. Treatment included six appointments with the specialist, the administration of antibiotics by our client’s daughter, weekly blood draws to determine her progress, and home nurse visits once a week to clean and maintain the pick line. The antibiotics themselves were very expensive and had to be paid for in advance.

    Our client could not afford this treatment and called the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in tears, convinced she was going to die. Our office set her up with a medical funding company and we were able to get her the treatment she needed and I am glad to say that she is doing much better.

    Infection is a risk everyone undergoing surgery takes. It can happen to anyone in any hospital and it just happened to happen to our client this time. Together we were able to address the problem head on and save her life. The infection was the tipping point for the insurance company. Because of treatment she had already undergone and the additional treatment necessary to treat the infection, we were able to get a policy limits offer from the adverse insurance company in the amount of $250,000.00.

    Some people may wonder why the adverse driver was responsible for the infection and the answer is because she got the infection through the treatment of injuries that the adverse driver caused. There is a chain of events that occurred due the actions of the adverse driver. The car collision led to injuries which led our client to treat for those injuries which led her get an infection in her spine. There is no break in the chain of causation.

    If my client had gotten the infection because of surgery on her elbow, which was not injured in the collision, then the adverse driver would not have been responsible for the treatment of the infection.

    Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin in Sacramento California today.