Case Study: Uninsured Motorist Auto Accident

scene of car accident where driver was uninsured

The following is a case study, an example of the service, diligence and dedication our Oakland Personal Injury Law Firm provides our clients.

Jane Doe v. State Farm

On April 18, 2005, Ms. Doe was hit head-on by an uninsured motorist driving a stolen vehicle. Her vehicle was a total loss and there was significant cabin intrusion in the center of the vehicle which impacted claimant’s right knee. At the scene and en route to the hospital, Ms. Doe complained of left shoulder pain, chest pain, right knee pain and right arm pain. She was diagnosed at the ER with severe bone injuries, including a fracture to her right elbow fracture, chest contusion, and contusions to her right knee. Xrays of the right knee were negative for fracture. Ms. Doe’s right knee pain complaints persisted. She sought care with an orthopedist. who diagnosed her with a possible meniscus tear and suggested an MRI. The MRI revealed a mild sprain of the anterior aspect of the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Despite a course of physical therapy, a right knee brace, cortisone injections, hyaluronic acid injections (intended to replace the joint’s natural fluid), the right knee pain persisted. A diagnostic arthroscopy was recommended. In March 2007, Ms. Doe sought a second opinion from another orthopedist who injected Ms. Doe’s right knee with lidocaine and Aristocort, a corticosteroid. The doctor also suggested a diagnostic arthroscopy.

Ms. Doe was a high-end real estate agent and broker in the Oakland, CA area when the auto accident occurred. She specialized in selling high-priced existing homes, and in selling and marketing small exclusive developments. As a result of the debilitating right knee pain, Ms. Doe was unable to work on her existing listings nor was she able to continue to market her services or attend industry events. In the three years prior to the collision, Ms. Doe earned an average of $152,000 a year. The year of the car accident (2005), she earned only $44,500.

A claim was made to State Farm for uninsured motorist benefits and included $30,159.53 in medical expenses and only $34,950 in lost earnings. Despite providing the carrier with five years worth of tax returns and commission statements, as well as listing agreements and expert opinion, State Farm refused to pay anything on the lost earnings claim. The last offer from State Farm before litigation was $15,500 in new money in addition to the $5,000 in medical payments already paid. Total claim value according to State Farm was $20,500. Arbitration was demanded.

After written discovery and a deposition was completed, Ms. Doe attended a defense medical examination (DME) with Peter Sfakianos, M.D. Dr. Sfakianos agreed with Ms. Doe’s orthopedists that she had instability in the right knee and agreed that a diagnostic arthroscopy was appropriate. Shortly after the DME, Ms. Doe returned to her orthopedist and chose to go forward with the arthroscopy. The procedure resulted in a debridement of synovial fat pad. Although right knee pain and swelling persisted for a few months following the procedure, the right knee eventually became fully functional and relatively pain free.

Even after Dr. Sfakianos agreed that the arthroscopy was necessary, State Farm increased its new money offer to only $53,500, with zero compensation for lost earnings.

On behalf of Ms. Doe, our firm demanded State Farm pay $100,000, the policy limit. Binding arbitration with Don Walter was completed on December 16, 2008. Mr. Walter was visibly impressed with Ms. Doe’s credibility. State Farm did not dispute the nature and extent of claimant’s car accident injuries or disability from this auto accident, it only disputed the lost earnings claim. Within one week of the hearing, Mr. Walter awarded Ms. Doe $92,967.00 including $35,000.00 for lost earnings.

If you or your loved one has recently been the victim of an uninsured motorist accident or any other type of personal injury, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website to complete a free case evaluation or contact our Oakland Personal Injury Law Offices by e-mail.

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