In the Fall of 2012 an accident involving a City of Oakland utility truck made the evening news. Pedestrians had been struck down on the sidewalk, and wreckage to city meters, store fronts, glass doorways and parked cars was reported. It turned out that the driver of the utility truck had run a red light, losing control, coming onto the sidewalk and seriously injuring two people. Three weeks after the accident, a family member of one of the people hit by the truck contacted BASF’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS).
The 64-year old monolingual Cantonese speaking injured man was at Highland Hospital in the intensive care unit being treated for a ruptured spleen, massive internal bleeding, multiple fractured ribs, and pneumonia, which had developed from his tracheal intubation and had collapsed his lungs. LRIS staff referred the case to Paoli & Geerhart, a personal injury firm that handles catastrophic injury cases and offers assistance in Cantonese.
According to firm attorney Tom Paoli, “The City of Oakland understood its liability and the serious injuries it caused, which made for a quicker than usual settlement.”
At the mediation, the negotiations were a bit tense and the city eventually agreed to $1.1 million more than their initial offer. The client’s recovery from his injuries has been good, but he continues to suffer pain and overall weakness from his injuries.
Paoli credits the outcome to a few techniques that are not unfamiliar to seasoned personal injury attorneys:
- Do not alienate opposing counsel while advancing your client’s interests;
- Go into a mediated settlement with a demand that reflects the strength of your case while at the same time encouraging the other side that there is a realistic possibility of agreement.
Paoli & Geerhart also handled a multi-million dollar lawsuit on behalf of a catastrophically injured LRIS client. At the close of 2006, a case involving the negligence of an international airline which had failed to land when a passenger suffered a stroke, leaving him comatose, had settled for what at that time was the largest settlement award by a LRIS panel attorney—$4,150,000.
BASF’s LRIS is a State Bar Certified Referral Program, model referral service, well-known nationally for its outstanding legal assistance to the public. Refer with confidence those clients outside your practice area: 415-989-1616 or www.sfbar.org/lawyerreferral.