Our greatest success comes from knowing our clients are taken care of physically, emotionally and financially. We’d like to share a few, recent examples of cases we’ve worked on and the results we’ve gotten.
Crushed by a bus in Seattle
Anyone who’s been in Seattle during rush hour knows just how crazy it can be: the streets packed with impatient drivers, massive buses barreling down narrow lanes and cutting in and out of traffic. It can be especially scary when you’re on foot as a pedestrian.
Lon, a retired carpenter, became a victim of the downtown chaos one afternoon walking along Pine Street to catch a Metro bus. He knocked on the bus door to safely get on board. Instead of opening its doors, the bus just took off, sucking him under the wheels and crushing him.
An ambulance sped Lon to the hospital, where doctors discovered many of his bones had been fractured. Lon underwent multiple surgeries during his long stay in the hospital and developed a life threatening infection that required even more operations. He was then placed in a nursing facility for months after that.
How Melissa and her team helped Lon
Despite witness accounts that he was simply knocking on the door when the bus pulled away, Metro denied responsibility – they claimed Lon got in the way of the bus, so it was his fault for being run over. When we asked Metro to produce the video surveillance we knew they had from a security camera of a nearby Walgreens, they claimed to have lost it. We canvassed the area for witnesses but not even the witnesses listed in the police report would step forward. We finally were able to track down someone who confirmed that Lon was knocking on the door and the bus driver ignored him and pulled away.
But Metro continued to blame Lon. They scoured Lon’s medical records for evidence of his toxicology level because he admitted to having a cocktail that afternoon. They treated him like a criminal because he was not working, called him “unemployed”, even though he was a retired, stay-at-home grandfather taking care of his grandson while his daughter and son-in-law worked full time. They sent him to an insurance medical exam to challenge his orthopedic injuries and deny coverage for his bills.
Four and a half years after this horrible, life-changing day, and because of our refusal to back down to their corporate manipulation, Metro finally admitted responsibility and agreed to settle Lon’s case at mediation.
Not long after, Lon’s health insurance company demanded full reimbursement for his extensive medical bills, which would have reduced Lon’s settlement significantly. Through careful negotiations we got the health insurer to waive the reimbursement entirely.
Given the extent of Lon’s injuries, he still has a long recovery ahead of him, but the settlement allowed him security and freedom. After being literally run over, left for dead, and then challenged at every turn by Metro, he walked away with his liens and bills taken care of and hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank which not only gave him closure, but also the financial freedom to start a new chapter in life.
Truck hits and kills a single mom walking to work
The laws dealing with wrongful death cases in Washington state can be extremely frustrating, to put it mildly. For example, insurance companies may put a low dollar value on the loss of human life because the person isn’t able to easily communicate or show what pain and suffering they felt as they were dying, or because they pass away quickly. It’s shocking to learn that insurance companies will penalize a person for dying too fast, or too quietly. And that was exactly the situation we faced in the case of my client Marcia and her family.
Marcia was a single mother who was walking to a bus stop near her home in the early hours of the morning. Her plan was to take her usual morning bus into her office. When the pedestrian crossing signal indicated it was safe, Marcia stepped into the crosswalk. At the same time, the driver of a large, commercial pickup truck was on his way to work and was turning left across the same pedestrian crosswalk. Despite the fact that Marcia was easily visible, the driver was focused on beating oncoming traffic, and improperly made a short and quick left turn. Marcia was struck, knocked down, and dragged by the truck before it finally came to a stop.
Paramedics at the scene and doctors at the emergency room tried everything they could to save Marcia’s life over the next four hours. Unfortunately, the injuries to her head were so severe that they were unable to do anything other than try to make her comfortable before she passed away later that day.
How Steve and his team helped Marcia’s family
We moved our investigation quickly to make sure we could gather all of the information we could for Marcia’s family. We hired a number of experts to provide information on everything from what really happened at the accident scene, to how her injuries likely affected Marcia’s mind and body after the accident – since she would never again be able to speak on her own behalf.
In the end, the insurance company representing the driver’s employer was only concerned about two things: the fact that Marcia died so soon after the crash, and the fact that she supposedly never regained consciousness. They argued that her case was not worth very much because we couldn’t prove she was actually suffering in the four hours after the accident before she passed away. Attorneys for the insurance company pointed to cases from Washington courts where victim’s claims were either dismissed, or settled for almost nothing, because the victim’s families weren’t able to prove “conscious pain and suffering.”
Through our investigation and our experts, we were able to find pieces of information showing that while she never woke up after the accident, her mind and body were experiencing pain, and she was able to express that pain to her son through a gentle squeeze of his hand at the hospital. We consulted with top neurologists and neurosurgeons to break down each phase of her injuries and explain what was happening medically based on how her body and brain reacted to the treatment she was receiving.
This was a very challenging case, but we were able to get the case settled for much more than the insurance company originally offered. At mediation, a process where both sides of the case got together to try and work out a settlement out of court, we were able to convince the insurance company to raise its settlement offer from a couple hundred thousand dollars to closer to $1 million. More importantly, we did it in a way that honored Marcia, her family, and her life.
Car crash after pre-existing condition leads to a fight with Annie’s own insurance company
As we age, we all get aches and pains. Almost all of us have had some reason to see a doctor. My client, Annie, was no exception. She had a history of pain in her knees, neck, and low back. But just because a person has had pain at some point in their lives doesn’t mean they can’t be injured even more severely. Trauma, like the effects of a car crash, can actually make prior pain much worse.
Annie was running errands at the supermall in Auburn, when a driver going almost 60 miles per hour slammed her into from behind. She immediately felt severe, excruciating pain in her neck and back.
How Arthur and his team helped Annie
We stepped in to help Annie regardless of her prior pain because we could see she was badly hurt from the crash. We quickly got her medical records and went through them line by line, learning that Annie had had multiple claims with the Department of Labor and Industries for bad knees and a history of low back pain. She had even had a multi-level fusion surgery, and had told her doctors about having neck pain in the months immediately before the car crash.
We knew we were in for a fight with the other driver’s insurance company, and that they’d very likely blame Annie’s pain entirely on a pre-existing condition. We met with her surgeon who gave us a clear medical opinion that Annie’s neck had been directly worsened by the crash. Because of our meticulous work separating out Annie’s “before” versus “after” medical state, the at-fault driver’s insurance company was left with no arguments to make. We recovered full policy limits.
Unfortunately, those limits weren’t enough to cover Annie’s claim, so her own insurance company came into play with her Underinsured Motorist policy (UIM). Although we were now dealing with Annie’s insurance, we knew they were going to use similar tactics. They would use her medical history against her, in spite of her years of premiums and loyalty. The UIM insurer responded to our offer with a demand that Annie be examined by a doctor on their payroll, meaning they were gearing up to deny Annie’s claim. To protect Annie from a biased opinion, we sent the insurer a list of conditions that they had to meet in order for the exam to take place. They refused, and we prepared to file a lawsuit against them for bad faith.
Fearful of litigation and knowing they were in the wrong, her insurance company finally gave in and admitted that Annie’s need for neck surgery was related to the car wreck. They even agreed it was possible she would need another surgery.
The full policy limits of the other driver combined with the settlement from her own insurance company, was a big win for Annie, who would have otherwise been lost in the insurance industry processing system. We were able to relieve Annie’s stress by stepping in to deal with the insurance companies, take care of her bills, and make sure she would be able to get the care she needed at the time and in the future.
Car accident leaves Microsoft executive with a career ending TBI
The brain is connected to everything we do. It allows us to move, breathe, see, hear, and taste. It gives us the ability to read, write, think, learn, and communicate. We can do math, play sports, express love, create new technologies, and make music. There is seemingly no limit to what we can do with our brain working for us.
Now imagine it’s all taken away from you in the blink of an eye. This happened to 36-year-old Microsoft Program Executive, Genet, whose car was plowed into by a driver that ran a stop sign at full speed. Genet’s head hit the windshield and her brain was permanently damaged. From then on, she had had non-stop ringing in her ears and debilitating headaches. With the endless noise and pain, she couldn’t think like she used to and couldn’t work at her executive level. One minute she knew who she was and what she was capable of; the next minute she felt she’d lost herself.
The insurance company’s response to Genet’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) went like this: “Since there is no bleed seen on the MRI or CT scan, this means there is no brain injury and you can’t prove one.”
How Richard and his team helped Genet
Working at the crossroads of medicine and law, we pushed back — hard. We researched and gathered irrefutable medical opinions, evidence, and documentation that an MRI or CT scan of the brain shows “structure” and not “function”. This means that a brain can be injured in how it functions, but that damage does not show up on such scans.
It wasn’t an easy case to build because of the insurance companies’ lies and campaign of misinformation about traumatic brain damage – that it isn’t real if you can’t see it – a lie that the insurance world has invested tremendous time, money and resources into building and spreading. We debunked the lie and proved with evidence gathered from Genet’s physicians, co-workers, spouse and extensive medical research that the injury was very real and the damage to Genet’s life was severe.
We successfully concluded Genet’s case with a seven-figure outcome that allowed her to transition away from her high-level, demanding Microsoft role so she could take time off for brain healing and start fresh with a different view on her work-life.
Stoned driver leaves Karen jobless and in chronic pain
It was an ordinary day. Karen, on her way to work like so many other days, had no idea her life would change forever. Nearby, an unlicensed driver in a borrowed car, high on marijuana, was getting impatient with traffic. Karen was almost to work and was turning into the parking lot when the guy came out of nowhere, high out of his mind. He swerved around stopped traffic, using the parking strip as his personal street, and broadsided her.
Karen’s legs were jammed into the dash of her car. In tremendous pain, she was rushed by ambulance to Harborview Medical Center. Months of treatment later and with no relief, her doctor diagnosed Karen with a rare condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), a permanent pain of the limbs caused by nerve damage. Karen’s chronic pain hindered her ability to function even at a basic level, and she was fired from her job shortly after the incident. With limited insurance and no job, Karen was financially strained and extremely stressed, unsure of whether she could continue to meet her own basic needs or cover bare bones expenses like rent.
How Lauren and her team helped Karen
We moved quickly to gather the evidence needed to present her case. In a process that usually takes years, we resolved Karen’s case on both the liability claim and then underinsured motorist claim (UIM), with full policy limits tendered on both.
Receiving the funds so quickly made a huge difference for Karen – she could continue to get the treatment she needed. She could now pay for rent without stress or worry, and take care of her needs while she looked for a job and figured out her next steps. It gave her room to breathe and get back on her feet.
Car crash nearly ends Bertha’s ability to support her family; insurance denies coverage
My client, Bertha, had finished breakfast with her best friend in Renton. She was driving home, passing through an intersection. At that same moment another driver was running a red light. He t-boned her at top speed, leaving her badly hurt.
Unfortunately, Bertha and her family were going through a rough year. Her husband recently lost his job after his own severe injury. Bertha became the sole income earner to cover rent and put food on the family’s table. She had managed to make ends meet by cleaning houses, and in her mind, being unable to work was never an option, so she persisted in spite of the pain and limited mobility.
With English as her second language, it was hard for Bertha to find a doctor who could tell her what was wrong. When she did, she was shocked to find her right shoulder’s rotator cuff had been torn in the accident, which explained why using her arm had so painful. She had to feed her family, every day she held back tears as she scrubbed floors, cleaned toilets, swept and changed sheets. To make matters worse, because she was self-employed, she couldn’t afford health insurance. Getting the treatment she needed was financially impossible.
She turned to her auto insurance company, but they took advantage of the fact that Bertha spoke only Spanish and would not be able to advocate for herself in Spanish. When she tried to open a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim to pay for ongoing medical bills, her insurance company claimed they never received her payments and that she didn’t have any coverage.
How Steve and his team helped Bertha
When we heard what she’d been through, we were livid but not surprised. Bertha hired us to represent her for her injuries, but the first thing we did was start investigating what happened with those auto insurance payments. It turned out that the agent stole Bertha’s money and closed their doors. With this information uncovered, we were able to force the company to restore her coverage. A PIP claim was opened, and we unlocked Bertha’s ability to get the medical treatment she needed.
From the beginning, our goal was always to help Bertha get the care she required and the respect she deserved. It turned out the other driver didn’t have enough insurance to pay for the harm he had caused her, so her own auto insurance - the same insurance that originally denied her – paid out the most in the end. We settled Bertha’s case for $150,000.00. Best of all, she got the surgery she needed and was able to go back to work full time.
Cab driver flees the scene, leaving Cindy with a spinal injury
Bad things happen to good people. But when the person who caused the bad thing refuses to take responsibility, it’s frustrating and confusing to say the least.
Our client Cindy was the good person in this case, in every sense of the word. Cindy was a therapist with a private practice of counseling young children in need. She raised two special needs kids of her own, and in her free time volunteered for DSHS in the foster care system and for local elementary schools. She and her husband were active in their church and the local Humane Society. In terms of giving back to her community, Cindy did it all. She deserved only good things and respect in return.
But the reality is that there are people out there who don’t respect others, even those who deserve it the most. Some people will do anything to deny and duck responsibility.
Cindy was driving in Issaquah when a cab driver pulled out into traffic from a side street, causing Cindy to swerve into oncoming cars. She hit another car to miss the taxi. The cab driver fled the scene, leaving Cindy and the other women, each in totaled cars, in the middle of the intersection. When the police finally caught the driver, he lied and denied all responsibility, saying that the “lady driver” swerved into another “lady driver” and it was not his fault that these women couldn’t drive.
Cindy was left with a rare, chronic condition called coccydynia, an extremely painful injury to the tailbone. She had to carry an ice machine and ice pack with her all day, every day and struggled with constant, burning pain at the base of her spine. As a psychotherapist, she had to give up her business because she simply couldn’t sit. Her only option was to have her tailbone surgically removed.
How Melissa and her team helped Cindy
This was a complex injury, so we focused our time and attention to research on coccydynia in order to prove how trauma from a car wreck could cause this rare condition.
Each time the insurance company came back with reasons to deny her claim, we dug deeper and presented more evidence. Even after we succeeded in getting the insurance company to admit this condition was real and serious, they subjected Cindy to an Insurance Medical Exam (IME), hoping to get their paid doctor help deny that the coccydynia was caused by the crash.
We overcame tremendous hurdles in Cindy’s case – from a heartless driver who denied fault for the serious damage he caused, to an insurance company determined to deny and question Cindy’s clear suffering. We refused to let the cab driver get away with his lies, or to allow the insurance company to avoid responsibility.
We got a $700,000 settlement for Cindy – enough that she was able to close her practice and move to CA to be near her parents so they could help with her chronic pain.
Teen daughter barely survives drunk driver
It’s that middle of the night phone call every parent fears and hopes they never get. You’re instantly wide-awake because your gut tells you what’s happened before you hear the words – it’s the Emergency Room. Your child has been in a bad crash. No details. You rush to the ER and soon learn bits of information: your college-age daughter was hanging out with friends that summer evening. She got in her boyfriend’s car and was headed home when somehow the car rolled over, off I-90, down an embankment, and burst into flames. She’s so badly hurt that a team of medical specialists and surgeons are working around the clock in the ICU to save her.
Miraculously, her life is spared. The doctors are able to re-attach her amputated, dominant, right arm. But it’s not a normal arm, and it never will be. Your daughter will now go through life one-armed, in a two-armed world.
That daughter’s name is Angela and Angela was our client. Without hesitating, the insurance company blamed the car wreck on her, saying it was Angela’s fault for being at a party, for drinking alcohol, for getting into the car in the first place.
How Richard and his team helped Angela
But we knew there was more to it. We tracked the criminal case of the boyfriend who was driving intoxicated and speeding when the car crashed. We worked with the police, sat in on court hearings and captured the driver’s statements to the judge when he took full responsibility for everything that happened (while he pleaded for a lighter sentence).
Through our diligent, meticulous work to prove the boyfriend was entirely at fault, and that Angela had no part in causing the crash, the insurance company knew they were defeated. When they folded, it was a seven-figure settlement.
Being so young, we knew Angela would have a long, bright future ahead. We worked with her and her parents to make sure that her settlement funds were properly managed to give her a safety net for medical resources throughout her life, as she navigates school and work, if she decides to have a family, and for the extra assistance of going through life with one arm. Today, Angela is able to live independently and is stating her career as a real estate agent.