Case Spotlight: C.R.P.S. Arbitration Award of $767,795.78

The case spotlight this month focuses on a client with C.R.P.S. This is a serious and debilitating pain disease. It stands for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. When the incident occurred, our client Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California had a history of low back pain due to degenerative disc disease, but he was able to play basketball almost everyday, walk his dog, and mow the lawn. After the incident, he was barely able to walk.

Our client’s mother rented a home from the defendant. She repeatedly requested that the owner of the property trim a large tree which constituted a dangerous condition. She was afraid a limb would fall off and strike one or both of her small grandchildren who lived with her. At her wits end, she finally asked her son, our client, to trim the tree for her. He agreed.

During the course of the work, a limb of the tree broke off unexpectedly and caused our client from the law offices of Laskin Balma in Sacramento California to fall to the ground, landing on his right foot. He sustained a transverse comminuted fracture of the mid portion of the calcaneus and required plates and screws to be put into his ankle. He underwent surgery, then developed an infection. Our client could not catch a break.

A year and three months after the incident, still in pain and struggling to get through his daily life, our client was finally diagnosed with C.R.P.S. This disease is not well understood, but it happens most often after an injury. The body does not react as expected and the brain receives constant signals of pain even after the injury has healed.

The defense tried to argue that the injury was his own fault as he was not a licensed tree-trimmer and should not have been up there in the first place. Our theory on liability was that the owner of the property had a duty to keep the property in a safe condition and when she failed to do so, it was not improper for the tenant to take matters into her own hand and ask her son for help. If the owner had taken care of the rotten tree like the tenant had asked, our client would not have had to do the job himself in order to protect his nieces.

The defense offered $50,000.00 to the plaintiff to settle the case. But because our client’s medical bills exceeded $165,000.00, he could not accept. All parties agreed to a binding arbitration. The arbitrator had two findings:

1) He found that the Plaintiff’s case was worth $767,795.78

2) He found the Plaintiff was partially at fault for his injury and assigned comparative fault of 80%, reducing the award to $153,559.16

Arbitration in this case was the best way to get our client some compensation. Putting this case in front of a jury would have been very risky. When liability is an issue, sometimes it is more rewarding to put the question to an arbitrator who knows liability arguments and will not dismiss a theory out of hand, like a layman on a jury might. Instead he took in all the facts, found that both parties had a hand in the incident and most importantly, found that the permanent damage our client suffered in the form of this debilitating pain disease C.R.P.S. was worth $600,000.00 in general damages.

Whether we take a case to arbitration, trial, mediation, or settle it in pre-litigation, our firm is known for doing what is in the best interest of our clients and doing everything we can to get them the compensation they deserve.

Need advice? Contact Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California today.