Automobile Accidents

Proving Damages in an Auto Accident Case

- Paul Zuckerman

Auto accidents are an unfortunate yet common incident in people’s lives. In fact, a person is more likely to get into a motor vehicle accident than a plane crash. Car crashes happen every day in the United States; in fact, earlier this month, there was a widely reported collision between a car and an Amtrak train bound for Los Angeles. Thankfully, the two individuals in the vehicle got out of the car before the train collided with it and no injuries were reported.

Recently as well, an individual who was engaged in an illegal drag race lost control of his car and crashed into a crowd of 60 people. The driver, who turned himself into Los Angeles police earlier this month, killed two people and injured several others. The man has been charged with murder.

Recovering Damages in an Auto Accident Case

If you have been in a car crash that was the result of someone else’s negligent or reckless driving, you will most likely be able to recover damages. The compensation you receive is supposed to address a variety of financial concerns you may have after being in an accident such as:

  • Inability to work
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

In the event of your death, the compensation can also compensate your spouse or children for loss of companionship or guardianship.

Proving Damages in an Auto Accident Lawsuit

To recover monetary compensation, you will have to prove the value of the damages you suffered. This is often done by testimony and presenting records of your medical bills and the wages you were making at the time of the crash.

Testimony is given by experts who can tell the jury:

  • The wages you would have made had you been able to work
  • The severity and extent of your injuries, including how long they will last and how you can expect the injuries to affect you in the future
  • Your emotional trauma and how that has affected you and your loved ones
  • How your loved ones have been affected by your injuries

The above is a non-exhaustive list of how expert testimony is used in a car accident lawsuit. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will ensure that you secure all the right individuals to give testimony if your case goes to trial.

If you, or a loved one, have been in an auto accident and suffered damages, our attorneys at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley want to help. We have years of experience handling auto accident compensation cases in the Los Angeles area, and we are able to help you recover whatever costs to which you are entitled.

For an initial consultation, we welcome your call to our office at (213) 514-8332.

Metrolink Derailment Injures 28 in Oxnard, Ventura County

- adminbrand

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Oxnard rail crossing that was the scene of Tuesday, February 24th Metrolink derailment is the 23rd most hazardous in California, according to data from the Federal Railroad Administration.

Twenty-eight people were sent to the hospital after a Metrolink commuter train crashed with a tractor-trailer in Oxnard, Calif. on Tuesday morning. The truck driver has been arrested.

Metrolink’s investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in safety improvements after a series of deadly collisions probably reduced casualties in Tuesday’s Oxnard crash, but the accident also highlighted the limits of the ongoing campaign.

Three crash-resistant cars in Metrolink’s new $263-million fleet of state-of-the-art passenger coaches performed well in their first test involving a major crash, rail officials said.
The cars, among the first to incorporate years of accident research, have front and rear crush zones, tables that give way in a wreck, improved emergency exits, fire retardant materials and more protective seating designs.

“We’ve spent a bundle on safety,” said Richard Katz, a former state legislator and longtime Metrolink board member. “Accidents happen. When they do, we want to make sure our passengers and crews are in the safest cars and safest situations we can create.”

However, experts noted that the new cars came off the tracks, despite anti-derailing devices, and that the collision was Metrolink’s fourth serious accident involving a train pushed by a locomotive.
That widespread practice has been questioned in safety studies and lawsuits, in part because lighter, more vulnerable passenger cars, with an engineer’s station, are placed at the front of speeding trains. Late Tuesday, the Metrolink engineer at the controls before the crash was among the most seriously injured and remained in an intensive care unit.

The crash also underscored a key shortcoming of a $210-million, high-tech collision avoidance system Metrolink is testing on part of its 512-mile network.

The sophisticated system can prevent train collisions such as Metrolink’s 2008 head-on wreck in Chatsworth. But it would not have been able to detect the vehicle that was on the rails Tuesday near Oxnard, after the driver turned onto the tracks and drove about 80 feet west of the grade crossing.

Beyond technology, the location of the crash once again spotlighted a massive, costly backlog of overpass projects intended to separate rail and street traffic. The crossing near 5th Street and Rice Avenue, on a straight stretch of track where trains travel at top speeds, has a history of deadly accidents and is ranked among the two dozen most dangerous in California.

Officials said a $30-million grade separation planned for the intersection has languished awaiting state and federal funding.

The crossing is “one of thousands in Southern California, and many of them need attention,” said Moorpark Mayor Pro Tem Keith Millhouse, a Metrolink board member.

Minimizing the Risk of a Pedestrian Accident

- Paul Zuckerman

This past summer, a pickup truck driver seriously injured two pedestrians and killed another after driving into a group of them at an intersection. It was just one of many pedestrian accidents that happen every month. Annually, thousands of pedestrians are killed in traffic crashes, and tens of thousands are injured – some seriously.

Based on recent statistics, in the US pedestrians are:

  • Killed every 2 hours, on average, due to motor vehicle collisions
  • Injured every 8 minutes – on average – due to motor vehicle collisions
  • 5 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle collision than passenger vehicle occupants

Certain demographics are more prone to pedestrian accidents than others.

  • Adults 65 and older are involved in 19 percent of pedestrian deaths and about 11 percent of pedestrian accident injuries
  • One in five children between the ages of 5 and 9 are killed in pedestrian accidents, according to the Center for Disease Control
  • Drivers or pedestrians who are under the influence of alcohol were involved in 47 percent of pedestrian deaths resulting from a motor vehicle crash

Additionally, certain areas are more prone to pedestrian accidents due to a motor vehicle collision. These areas include urban areas, non-intersection locations, and at night. Despite the frequency of motor vehicle crashes that involve pedestrians, there are some steps pedestrians can take to minimize their chances of becoming an accident statistic.

  • Carry a flashlight or wearing reflective clothing when walking at night
  • Always using a designated crosswalk
  • Utilizing sidewalks, if they are available
  • And walking towards traffic if walking in the street is necessary

Motor vehicle drivers should also drive carefully, pay attention to the roads and traffic signals, and avoid distractions. A pedestrian accident can result in catastrophic injuries, leave lasting physical and emotional trauma for survivors, as well as financial strain due to inability to work and medical bills.

If you, or a loved one, have been involved in a pedestrian accident, the attorneys at Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP are here to help. We have years of experience handling accident claims from pedestrians who have been injured or the families of those who have been killed. We engage in aggressive litigation and settlement negotiation tactics to help you, or a loved one, get the compensation they deserve while handling the case with compassion and professionalism. To arrange an initial consultation, we welcome your call to our Los Angeles area office at (213) 514-8332.

Car Accidents Linked to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Disorder

- Paul Zuckerman

Not all Injuries resulting from vehicular accidents are readily apparent after the incident, particularly when a nerve is damaged. In some cases, victims of car crashes experience a health condition known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) which changes their lives forever.

What Is Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Disorder?

Your body has a sympathetic nervous system that controls various involuntary bodily functions such as increasing heart rate, decreasing blood pressure, and constricting of blood vessels. Injury to the nerves, trauma, surgery, infection, and a certain type of cardiovascular disease can cause the sympathetic nervous system to malfunction. This, in turn, creates sensations of burning pain in the arm, finger or fingers, palm, or shoulders.

Other symptoms of RSD include:

  • Edema or swelling
  • Skin inflammation
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Excessive perspiration in affected limbs

Risk Factors

Car crashes and accidents can cause bodily injuries such as fractures and tissue injuries that increase your risk of developing RSD. Other injuries from slip and fall accidents, pedestrian accidents, and construction accidents can also lead to RSD.

RSD Treatment

Early detection and treatment are crucial in preventing permanent disability. Depending on the stage of the disorder, treatment can include surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and pain management.

Recovering Compensation for RSD and Personal Injuries

If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, getting immediate medical attention is important. If you suffer any of the symptoms of RSD, you may be entitled to compensation which can cover all your medical expenses, costs of physical rehabilitation and therapy, lost earnings or income, pain and suffering, as well as loss of consortium if you are married.

You will need to establish a causal connection between your RSD injury and the accident and the negligence or fault of the other party or parties. Your personal injury attorney can help you sort the legal issues in your case and prepare the necessary evidence and paperwork to establish your claim.

In Los Angeles, our personal injury attorneys of Carpenter, Zuckerman & Rowley, LLP have years of experience in accidents and claiming compensation for clients suffering from the resulting reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

We also handle other types of personal injury cases such as complex regional pain syndrome, spine injury, brain injury, amputation, and medical malpractice.

We invite you to contact our offices today at (213) 514-8332 to arrange a free initial consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis so you pay only when you recover compensation.

Nick Rowley Wins $1 Million Jury Verdict With Only $5,000 In Past Medical Bills

- Paul Zuckerman


Nick Rowley used his trial by human approach to win a $1 million jury verdict alongside Dylan Pollard in a case where the plaintiff had incurred only $5,000 in past medical bills.  The verdict was unanimous.

Nick jumped into the case only days before trial.    The mediator’s proposal had been for $60,000, which the Plaintiff agreed to but State Farm would not.  State Farm’s largest offer was $26,000 by 998 after mediation.  The plaintiff had responded with a $50,000 998 demand, which State Farm rejected.  The defendant was represented by an experienced insurance industry lawyer who had been named State Farm’s Trial Lawyer of the Year.  Liability was disputed until shortly before trial as there was no police report.

The plaintiff, a 43-year recently divorced mother of two, was in car crash while en route to her children’s school.  The plaintiff complained of neck pain at the scene and was put in C-Spine precautions and transported by ambulance to UCLA’s ER.  The plaintiff objected to the transport, stating she had to pick up her children from school and was fine and didn’t need to be evaluated.  Upon arrival to the hospital, the plaintiff continued to resist medical treatment, ultimately walking out against medical advice.  Her Glasgow Coma Scale was noted to be perfect as was her neurological exam.  As such, there were no contemporaneous medical records to support the plaintiff’s claims of injuries.  And the only complaint per the paramedics was neck pain.  Further, when the plaintiff saw her family doctor the following day, the doctor noted she only had low back and neck pain and that she was neurologically intact, had no head trauma, no headaches, and did not lose consciousness at the scene.  The neck and back pain resolved in 8 weeks and the Plaintiff was back to doing yoga and having no residuals but for a noticeable change in her short term memory.  The first notation weeks after the collision of this was a physical therapy record where the Plaintiff noted a ‘foggy memory’.  Concussions are often misdiagnosed and certainly misunderstood.  And nobody would think that whiplash (an acceleration deceleration injury could cause a concussion).  Furthermore, post concussion syndrome leaves long term residuals in 10-15% of patients.

Nick handled the trial from mini opening to closing arguments with the exception of two lay witnesses.  He put the medical records in their proper context.  He explained to the jury that the plaintiff’s conduct in the ambulance refusing medical care and at the ER were signs of combativeness, a tell tale sign of having suffered a concussion.  The Plaintiff had a history of two past concussions which Nick used as an advantage explaining throughout the trial how the residual memory loss makes sense because she came to the collision with an unusually susceptible brain.  Nick had no helpful radiological evidence as the brain MRI months later was normal.  Through testimony from the defense neurologist, Arthur Kowell, M.D., Nick explained the limitations of MRI and the common misdiagnosis of concussions in emergency rooms and how patients with concussions are often irrational and refuse medical treatment.  Also, Nick established how there was no true exam at the Emergency Room, and that no CT scan was done which could have shown bruising in the brain which would then not show up later on an MRI.  Plaintiff saw a neurologist 3 times prior to trial who diagnosed post concussion syndrome and testing by neuropsychologist David Lechuga, PhD, showed memory impairment in 2 different tests.  The defense also had the Plaintiff evaluated by a psychiatrist Dr. David Pastor and neuropsychologist Kyle Boone, PhD, both who called Plaintiff a malingerer.  Nick and Dylan established the human story of change through lay witnesses, with the best witness being Plaintiff’s 17 year old daughter.  Nick proved that despite the lack of hard medical evidence from the day of the crash, the plaintiff had suffered a concussion and had residual memory impairment.  Despite the low amount of past medical bills, the plaintiff would endure a lifetime of memory loss, and what is more important than our ability to remember.

Most important, Nick stressed the plaintiff’s human losses, what it meant for her to no longer be herself.  He explained to the jury the need for them to honor this victim and her loss.  Nick’s human approach stood in stark contrast to State Farm’s attempts to smear the plaintiff’s character and paint her as a “worrier” and complainer who was exaggerating or faking her injury.  The defense went through years of Plaintiff’s records with her therapist exposing her history of relationship problems, lack of self worth, anxiety and depression, and humiliate her in cross examination.  Nick responded by calling Defense counsel out as a bully and despicable for doing that to a woman who has never blamed relationship problems or depression on the collision.  Nick asked the jury to come back with a unanimous verdict that tells Leslie she is honorable.  After reading its unanimous verdict, the jury foreperson echoed Nick’s theme, approaching the plaintiff in the hallway, giving her a hug, and telling her: “You’re honorable.”   Every juror hugged the client after the verdict.

Nick served as lead trial counsel.  Dylan examined multiple witnesses at trial.  Of particular note, Dylan located liability witnesses, which was particularly challenging given the lack of a police report. Dylan’s devotion to the plaintiff, belief in the client, and commitment to secure her the justice she deserved was unparalleled.