Case Spotlight: Dispute Over $500.00 Leads to Jury Verdict of $10,595.50

Amazing story in the case spotlight this month at Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento CA. A few years ago, attorney Nathan J. Kabanuck went to trial in an interesting case that shows how the Law Offices of Laskin Balma will go to bat for a client over as small an amount as a few hundred dollars if it means protecting the client’s interests.

This case is a rear-end collision that ended up in trial despite having straight-forward facts. Our client had minimal treatment, only two visits to Methodist Hospital immediately following the collision. Without medical insurance and the adverse insurance company not covering such bills, our client, Joseph, sought an attorney so they would be paid. Joseph also lost time from work. Special damages totaled only $4,085.50.

Joseph wasn’t looking for much, but he did need to get his medical bills paid. We submitted a demand in June 2012. Unfortunately, the Access General insurance adjuster was not responding to any attempt at negotiation. We literally had no contact from them for over six months. Despite being a smaller case, the attorney decided enough was enough and Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law filed a lawsuit.

We served an Offer to Compromise pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 998 with the Summons and Complaint in the amount of $15,000.00 (the defendant’s policy limits). The 998 expired with no acceptance and we carried on with the case, including discovery and depositions. The opposing counsel issued a 998 in the amount of $6,500.00 to our client, however, with attorney fees and medical bills the recovery for Joseph was too small to accept the offer.

However, at the Mandatory Settlement Conference opposing counsel offered $7,000.00 to settle the case and Plaintiff offered $9,000.00 to resolve the case. Due to the defense attorney’s unwillingness to negotiate reasonably, Mr. Kabanuck served the defense attorney with a CCP section 998 offer to settle right then and there at the settlement conference for $9,000. A trial readiness conference was held and at the request of the Judge, Mr. Kabanuck and Plaintiff agreed to take $8,000.00, basically meeting the opposing counsel in the middle. The opposing counsel refused to offer the $8,000.00 to get it done.

The stubbornness of the defense counsel and insurance company then became even worse. The defense attorney moved to continue the trial because they were not ready to proceed. We adamantly opposed the motion seeking to find resolution for Joseph. The Judge ruled and the motion was denied, but at the hearing, opposing counsel told the Judge that he would offer Plaintiff $7,500.00. After much soul searching and discussion, our client decided to accept the $7,500.00 against attorney advice. This office called up the opposing counsel at our client’s request to finish the case.

Opposing counsel then refused to settle for $7,500.00. Mr. Kabanuck informed Joseph the defense counsel pulled his offer.  At that juncture the Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin calmly came to the conclusion the defense attorney and the insurance company would play around with our client no more and decided this case was going to go to trial. Negotiations were called off and we prepared for trial.  We were confident a jury would see the full value of this case and through trial Joseph would obtain vindication.

Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law won our case with a jury verdict of $10,595.50. Because the award was greater than our 998 offer the defense also had to pay for our trial expenses and interest. The total amount after judgment, trial costs, and interest: $13,035.70. $5,535.70 more than opposing counsel would have paid had he just approached the case in a reasonable manner. Joseph was pleased with the result as was Mr. Kabanuck. Moreover, this case sent a clear message that Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento CA will try any case, regardless of how small or large, if the opposing side is being unreasonable and the interests of our clients are best served by going to trial.

Need advice? Feel you have a potential personal injury case? Contact Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law in Sacramento California today.