54 posts categorized "Car Accidents"

February 10, 2013

Underinsured Motorist Causes Injury. Now What?

    Time and again people are severely injured in a car accident and the at-fault party has insurance but not enough insurance to compensate the victim.

Uim uninsured 001    Well, if you're the victim and have Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California then it becomes Underinsured Motorist Coverage.  The legality and logistics of Underinsured Motorist Coverage can be quite tricky so you will want to consult a California Personal Injury lawyer in this regard.  Basically, your car insurance provider "steps into the shoes" of the at-fault driver and, without increasing your premiums, affords you more coverage.

Peggy Gets Rear-endedReal Life Example

                My client, Peggy (not her real name), was minding her own business at a stop light when a driver, let's call him "Texting Bob", smashed into the rear of her brand new VW Bug, totaling it and sending Peggy to the hospital.

Uim texting 001
                The hit was so hard that it blew out a disk in Peggy’s neck.  Peggy had to undergo surgery to remove and replace the disc in her neck.  Apparently Bob invested significant money in his iPhone but not in his automobile liability insurance. 

                Peggy’s medical bills were $105,000.  Bob had a $25,000 policy limit.  Bob’s insurance immediately offered the $25,000 to settle the case. 

                Peggy had Uninsured Motorist Coverage in the amount of $500,000.  I spoke with Peggy’s insurance carrier and asked what it was that they needed, in particular, to open an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Claim for Peggy.

                Her carrier wanted a certified copy of Bob’s Declarations Page, a declaration under penalty of perjury that he carried no other applicable insurance, a copy of the signed Release of All Claims and a copy of the Settlement Check for $25,000.

                My office provided all of the requested documents along with the relevant medical documentation including reports, chart notes and bills along with a demand to Peggy’s insurance carrier that, due to the seriousness of her injuries and treatment, they pay the $500,000 policy limit.

                After several rounds of negotiations, fighting, arguing and legal wrangling, Peggy’s insurance carrier offered the $500,000 less an offset (to which they are legally entitled) for the $25,000 paid by Texting Bob’s insurance. 

Uim settlement 001                If Peggy didn’t have Uninsured Motorist Coverage, she would have been out of luck because Texting Bob had no more insurance, no significant assets (we did an asset check) and worked at a low-paying job.  Essentially, Texting Bob was judgment proof.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

Call or E-Mail Me to Discuss Your Auto Insurance Coverage

                It is so important to have the proper insurance coverage in California.  My practice focuses on personal injury so car insurance is something with which I’m intimately familiar.  Even if you’re not a current or past client, I am more than happy to sit down with you in person, by phone or by e-mail, and discuss your car insurance coverage BEFORE YOU NEED IT.

                This is so important that I’m happy to provide you with this consultation without charge.

  Call me 002

(877) 487-8221

Email me now 001[email protected]

LS 2012

February 06, 2013

A California Personal Injury Lawyer's Perspective on Accidents

                A California personal injury case can take on many forms.  If you, or someone you love, has been injured in any one of the following situations, you may have a personal injury case worth pursuing. 

  • Car accident 002
  • Bike accident 001
  • Bike accident 003
  • Bus accident 001
  • Train accident 001
  • Vicious dog 001
Vicious dog 001



  • Assault Injuries
  • Bicycle Accident
  • Bus Accident
  • Car Accident
  • Dangerous Product
  • Defective Product
  • Dog Bite / Animal Attack
  • Elevator / Escalator Accident
  • False Arrest
  • Medical Negligence
  • Motorcycle Accident
  • Nursing Home Neglect / Abuse
  • Pedestrian Accident
  • Railroad Crossing Accident
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Slip & Fall Accident
  • Trip & Fall Accident
  • Truck Accident
  • Wrongful Death

Call me to discuss whether you have a personal injury case.  Consultations are free and unlike a vicious dog, I won’t bite! (But I will give you my undivided attention).

LS 2012

September 22, 2011

Car Rental Tips After An Accident: You're Entitled to Dollars and/or An Equivalent Vehicle

Insurance companies oftentimes do their best to not treat you fairly or equitably.  One example of this is when the at-fault driver's insurance carrier provides you with a rental car with a "take it or leave it" attitude.


In California, you are entitled to be provided with a vehicle of equal value to the vehicle that was damaged as a result of another driver's negligence.  For example, let's say that you get rear-ended in your new Toyota Prius.  The other person's insurance company says "yep, our driver was at fault" and then allows you $20 a day for rental car.  Well, an equivalent Prius may rent for $50 a day.

You are entitled to rent a $50-a-day car and have the other party's insurance company pay for it (subject to, among other things, his or her property damage policy limits).  Period.

Now, let's change that scenario a bit: For whatever reason, you don't want to rent a car during the time that your car is in the shop.  You're entitled to make that choice.  Let's take it one step further: Your car is in the shop for six weeks (42 days).  You will be entitled to $2,100 in real dollars to compensate you for the time that your car is in the shop.  In other words, you do not have to actually rent the car in order to be compensated for your loss of use.

OR what if you rent a car for $25 a day?  You'll be entitled to the difference in cash (well, in check).  So, you rent a car for 42 days at $25 a day for $1,050 but you were entitled to a car renting for $50 a day. The insurance company should pay you the difference of $1,050 in the form of real dollars.

Here's the law (CACI 3903M): To recover damages for loss of use, [name of plaintiff] must prove the reasonable cost to rent a similar [item of personal property] for the amount of time reasonably necessary to repair or replace the [item of personal property].


April 16, 2011

Uh Oh, I'm Hurt & Other Driver Doesn't Have Enough Insurance! Underinsured Motorist Claims in California

Q: The following excellent question was posted on www.avvo.com

Avvo logo

I was in a severe car accident as to which I was not at fault. However, I have a lawsuit going against the other driver, and may or may not be able to to be compensated by the other driver's (who was insured) insurance company. My question is, if I win my lawsuit against them, can I still file for an underinsured motorist claim with my insurance if the other driver has only the minimum limits of coverage required by law, but those limits are insufficient to compensate me fully for my injuries. Do the same terms apply if I lose my case?

Also, do I file an underinsured motorist claim before or after my case has been settled regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit?

A: Here's my answer to this most excellent question:

The rules are different in different states.  In California (quoting from the Rutter Group California Practice Guide: Personal Injury):

"Underinsured motorist cases—consent not required: An insured's failure to obtain the insurer's consent to a settlement with (or judgment against) an underinsured motorist does not result in loss of the insured's underinsured motorist coverage. Reason: The insured cannot recover from his or her carrier until after the bodily injury limits of the tortfeasor's policy have been exhausted by settlement or judgment (Insurance Code Section 11580.2(p)(3)). The carrier could thwart the insured's ability to collect on the uninsured motorist coverage simply by refusing to consent to a settlement. Moreover, the carrier does not have a statutory subrogation right against the underinsured tortfeasor and thus does not need the protection of a consent provision. "

You should always put your carrier on notice of an accident and, assuming you have uninsured motorist coverage, reserve your right to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.

For practical reasons it is my practice to always contact my client's automobile insurance carrier, open the claim, get my client's policy limits in writing, advise that we are going to make an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim and ask them to tell me, in writing, exactly what they will need in order to comply with their particular requirements for a UIM Claim.

So, bottom line: You will NOT waive your UIM claim just by settling with the other party's carrier. However, subject to very few exceptions, you MUST, absolutely MUST, exhaust their policy limits (not a single penny less) in order for your UIM Coverage to kick in. Speak to a lawyer -- this is not something that anyone should handle on their own because the claims can be tricky.

I regularly handle Underinsured Motorist Claims for my clients. For various reasons, UIM Claims are a favorite of mine.



April 09, 2011

Faces of Distracted Driving: Margay Schee, 13


On September 23, 2008, 13-year-old Margay Schee was riding home from school when a semi-truck slammed into the back of her school bus. She was killed when rescuers were unable to get her out of the burning wreckage. The truck driver was talking on his cell phone at the time of crash and said he never saw the bus.

Margay's mother, Elissa Schee, is a founding board member of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

For more information, please visit www.distraction.gov. To share your story, upload a video to YouTube and email the link to [email protected]

February 27, 2011

AVVO Question: What Happens When Doctor Causes More Injuries to Accident Victim?

Avvo logo The following poignant question was posed on www.avvo.com:

"Our daughter suffered a near fatal accient as a result of which she suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). After 28 days the doctors decided to place a feeding tube, which was done by a radiologist. The tube was not placed correctly and the feeding material leaked into her abdominal cavity. After watching her for some 8 days where her Brain injury 001 abdominal cavity hardened and she came down with 104 fever, the surgical group performed an emergency procedure during which they cut her open and cleaned. The bacterial and fungal infection caused near fatal condition for a week (104 fever). Also they had to insert 2 tubes in the cavities to drain her.  Apart from the the near fatal condition which had nothing to do with her TBI, it delayed her recovery and transfer to a rehab center by 18 days, which were valuable towards her initial recovery."

The question becomes:  Who is responsible for injuries she suffered in the hospital?

My response:

Who was at fault for the accident in which your daughter suffered the TBI? If it was someone other than your daughter, then both that person who obviously has nothing directly to do with your daughter's medical treatment and the radiologist (and hospital as well as other medical personnel) may be liable for her injuries.

The Restatement 2d Torts Section 457 states:

Negligence chart If the actor's negligence results in harm to another which requires him to submit to hospital treatment, the actor is responsible for injuries resulting from the improper manner in which any member of the staff does his part in the normal treatment of his injuries. He is therefore as fully responsible for the negligent manner in which the nurses or clerical staff perform their part as he is for the negligent manner in which a physician or surgeon treats the case or diagnoses the injuries or performs an operation.

Medical negligence

Statute of limitations

Beware: Statute of Limitations  Also, the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice is shorter than that for Personal Injury. Please contact an experienced attorney immediately.


California Civil Jury Instruction 3929 States:

Caci jury instructions If you decide that [name of defendant] is legally responsible for [name of plaintiff]'s harm, [he/she/it] is also responsible for any additional harm resulting from the acts of others in providing aid that [name of plaintiff]'s injury reasonably required, even if those acts were negligently performed.

Click here to get directions for use of these jury instructions and their sources of authority

December 06, 2010

Drinking and Driving - It's Never Been Said This Well

Someone sent me this video.  It speaks for itself.


On December 10th 1989 the first TAC commercial went to air. In that year the road toll was 776; by last year 2008 it had fallen to 303.
A five minute retrospective of the road safety campaigns produced by the TAC over the last 20 years has been compiled. The montage features iconic scenes and images from commercials that have helped change they way we drive, all edited to the moving song Everybody Hurts by REM.

This campaign is a chance to revisit some of the images that have been engraved on our memories, remember the many thousands of people who have been affected by road trauma and remind us all that for everyones sake; please, drive safely.
Transport Accident Commission Victoria.

October 27, 2010

Hug Your Lawyer: Good Stories About Lawyers

Hug a lawyer today             Contrary to popular belief, many people have positive experience(s) with their lawyers!  About a week or so ago I posted the following request on a fabulous website called Help a Reporter Out (check it out): 

I am looking for people who have been injured in an accident whether it be vehicle related (car, motorcycle, bus, boat, plane, as a pedestrian, bicyclist) or in a slip/trip and fall type case (falling down stairs, off of a ladder, tripped on sidewalk, slipped in store) and whose case has been settled already. How has the accident affected your life? The lives of people around you? Did you use a lawyer and what was your experience if you did? By way of introduction, I'm a lawyer who represents injured people and I write about personal injury in my blog. To be clear, I'm not looking for cases -- I'm looking for people whose cases are already over.

            Within hours I received several responses.  I particularly enjoyed the response below because it sheds a well-deserved positive light on the personal injury profession (it came in two e-mails which I’m combining here).  The links are supplied by me --if you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that I love being able to provide access to further information.

             I hope you enjoy the story.  Feel free to submit comments and/or a story of your own.

 Jean’s Injury Story (Part One)

1975 mbz 450sl 002 Q:        What happened?

A:         I was injured in a car accident, not my fault. I had just put the license plates on my beautiful white, vintage Mercedes 450SL convertible and drove round the corner of my house and BAM!! Two cars smashed into me. Two minutes in my dream car mind you!  

Q:        How has the accident affected your life?

A:         My injuries were mostly emotional (there was smoke and I thought I was going to burn up and panicked trying to climb out of the car). I am very nervous driving and am now super, hyper-careful. I see how bad peoples’ driving habits are. I tailor my driving to accommodate rush hour, bad weather and night driving.

Crazy driver 002 Q:        How has the accident affected the lives of people around you?

A:         My husband gets impatient sometimes but understands. He too has realized the poor driving habits of other people.  

Q:        Did you use a lawyer and what was your experience if you did?

A:         Yes and he was awesome. Very compassionate and communicative. This was the second time I was a client of his.   I’ll flesh out more if you’re interested.

With Warmest Regards,


Well, needless to say I did want her to flesh out her story.  Here’s part two of her story:

Jean’s Injury Story (Part Two)

    I have an awesome experience with my lawyer (David Singer from Hollywood Florida). Prior to attending law school, I was in an accident (not my fault) and he handled the case beautifully.

          Twenty years later the 450SL accident occurred and David was the only lawyer I called. Regarding both of my cases with him, the standout was the even though I was not the gazillion $$ case, he treated me like I was. I did speak with him a few times during the representation (otherwise with his very competent legal assistant) and I felt very attended to and completely trusted that everything was being taken care of. Once I secured his representation, I could focus on getting my life together post accident. I would say that my experience was so positive because I listened to my attorney--I understood that in order for him to help me, I needed to let him do what he does best--he did not need to "co-counsel" with me. When I decided to relocate from Florida to North Carolina., David was kind enough to be a reference for me--he certainly got to know me well enough over the years!

  Physical therapy        While my injuries were mostly emotional, I did have to get physical therapy for my back which still acts up occasionally. I saw a chiropractor and a massage therapist for several months. Regarding my emotional injuries, I did seek situational counseling for a few weeks to help me overcome the fear of being burned up in the car. Without the counseling, I would have been suffering from nightmares, lack of sleep and being unable to drive. Now, I sleep fine, but the imprint is still there for my driving. As I stated in my prior email, I do tailor my driving to avoid certain roads and times of day. I can drive in heavy traffic, like if I had to drive on the Long Island Expressway I could, but if I have another option that I can exercise, I will.

        I sometimes think that Personal Injury Lawyers get a bad rap as "ambulance chasers" but they perform a necessary function--otherwise what would injured people do to help themselves, protect themselves from being taken advantage of by the insurance companies and sent out a public policy message?
With Warmest Regards,

Jean Croughan Gillis, Esq.
Carolina Family Wealth Planning
Tel (local): 704-469-3525
Tel (toll free): 888-9-ASK-JEAN
Fax: 888-406-6937
Email: [email protected]
Meeting Locations throughout North Carolina including Ballantyne,
South Park, Lake Norman and the SC Suburbs


Questions? Concerns?

If You, Or Someone You Know, Was In an Accident

Call For Your Free Consultation

Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger Immediately at

(323) 852-1100 or toll-free (877) 487-8221

 [email protected]

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

 "Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

August 22, 2010

Are You Willing To Risk Lives Just So You Can Send a Text Message?

Texting no joke                 What is your reaction when you see someone texting while driving or gabbing away on with the cell phone to their ear while behind the wheel?  Generally speaking, I don’t notice someone engaged in these (or similar) activities unless I’m behind them waiting for them to finally realize that the light has turned green and it’s their turn to go.  And, of course, it’s always a fun challenge to avoid the car that just swerved into my lane because they’re answering that all-important text message or e-mail.  Oh, yeah, and the other day when a woman pulled out of her parking space and made a u-turn right in front of me.  Naturally, I understood her situation and didn’t mind laying down skid marks to avoid t-boning her car because, after all, she was engaged in what appeared to be a life-changing conversation with someone on the other end of the cell phone that was glued to her ear.

The Responsibility Project: Liberty Mutual Insurance

                Liberty Mutual Insurance has initiated the Responsibility Project which basically rails against texting-while-driving.  They ask "Are You Willing To Risk Lives Just So You Can Send a Text Message?: Their video, No Phone Zone Day is, well to say the least, an excellent portrayal of the dangers and horrors of texting-while-driving while not being in your face.

            Even Oprah Winfrey has made a Public Service Announcement about not texting-while-driving

Teen Arraigned in Texting-While-Driving Hit-and-Run

                Newsflash: Guilford (CT) teen arraigned in texting while driving hit-and-run.  I’m curious to know what you think about this situation.  The comments at the end of the article are pretty telling as to most people’s sentiment.  Apparently, this young driver struck a pedestrian and her dog.  He admitted to police that he was so engrossed in his texting that he thought he merely hit a bush and continued on his merry way. 

Tell-Tale Signs of Texting-While-Driving

                This got me to thinking: What are the tell-tale signs of texting while driving?  According to an article in Cincinnati.com by Emily Ulber entitled Police Are Alert to Tell-Tale Signs of Texting While Driving, Tom Scheben, a spokesman for the Boone County (OH) Sheriff’s Office, there are a few tell-tale signs:

·         Unnecessarily slowing down with sudden braking (perhaps when they look up from their phone,  they suddenly realize the car in front of them has just stopped)

·         Being stopped at stop sign with head down and no hands on the steering wheel

One Solution


One solution to the texting-while-driving problem is Textecution which “kills texting functions while driving…”  The makers of Textecution describe their product: “Textecution™ is a user-friendly application that completely disables texting while driving. Textecution™ is designed for parents to install on their teenage driver's phone so they know their child is safer behind the wheel of the vehicle. Add immediate peace of mind, security, and safety today with Textecution™.  (Rest assured I have no financial stake in this product – I just found it on line today)

Links to Dangers of Texting-While-Driving

Blackberry keyboard FCC: The Dangers of Texting While Driving

Car & Driver Magazine: If Drivers Aren't Allowed to Watch TV in Cars, Why are Texting and E-mailing Legal?

Herald-Democrat: Texting Whie Driving: A Deathly Danger

PC World: Surprise: Texting While Driving Is Dangerous!

Lowell Steiger's Los Angeles Law Blog: More Links to Dangers of Texting While Driving

Questions? Concerns?

If You, Or Someone You Know, Was In an Accident

Call For Your Free Consultation

Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger Immediately at

              (323) 852-1100       or (877) 487-8221 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (877) 487-8221      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

[email protected]

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

August 08, 2010

Wear Your Seatbelt - Embrace Life, the Viral Video

Well, I think I'm coming late to the party because this beautiful video, entitled Embrace Life, has already had over 10 million hits.  My good friend up north, Lynnette Lipp, sent it to me today and, frankly, I was moved.  I think you'll  be moved, too.  In case you haven't seen it before, I beseech you to watch this video now. 

Seat Belts do save lives!!!  Produced by the Sussex Safer Roads Project

Seat Belt related links:

National Safety Council making our world safer

Wikipedia detailed seat belt discussion, examples

State Seat Belt Laws Governors Highway Safety Association - seat belt laws state by state

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Seat Belts

Questions? Concerns?

If You, Or Someone You Know, Was In an Accident

Call For Your Free Consultation

Please Contact Attorney Lowell Steiger Immediately at

              (323) 852-1100       or (877) 487-8221

[email protected]

Skype (with or without video): Lowell_Steiger

"Treated With the Respect and Understanding That You Deserve"

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