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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Accident settlement settled

Uploaded: Feb 4, 2015

It has been two years since my automobile accident on January 24, 2013, and it has taken that long for all of the pieces to wrap up. I've written several blogs about the accident. The first one about how it happened, then one on coming home from the Hospital, and more recently about being subpoenaed for the trial.

The young man who hit my car was 18 at the time and considered an adult. Back when I was 18 adulthood began at 21, and even then I was not very mature. The voting age was lowered during the Viet Nam War with the belief that if someone is old enough to be drafted and sent to war, he or she should be able to vote for the people with the power to do that. That's a reasonable reason to lower the voting age, but I still don't consider 18 to be an adult.

I hired an attorney to handle the legal end of the accident. My nephew who is a trial lawyer in Maine, told me a lawyer would cost too much and I could do it all myself. I thought that was strange advice coming from him, but the case was open and shut. The person who hit my car admitted to searching for his cell phone on the floor while running a red light at 40 mph.

My Insurance Company, Farmers, gave me $16,200 for my wrecked Focus. This was as high an amount as could be expected for a three year old car. It was like new with only 4,000 miles on it. The new Focus I bought cost $5500 more, including tax and license.

I also had to drop two online classes I was in the middle of teaching, so I lost about 1/3 of the pay remaining on them. I was offered two more classes to start about two weeks after I got home, but I wasn't in good enough shape to accept them. So that added another $3600 in lost wages. All together my expenses or losses came to $9100.

The young man only had $25,000 in insurance. My attorney took 1/3 of that. My medical plan with Humana was reimbursed $8300 for my medical expenses but agreed to pay their share of the lawyer's fee. So I wound up with $9100 which just about covered my expenses and lost wages.

Because the young man was under insured, my attorney recommended filing a claim with Farmers for the uninsured motorist coverage on my auto insurance policy. My attorney wrote a very convincing case for why I deserved more than $9100. He completed those negotiations last month, almost exactly two years after the accident.

I prefer not to say how much he recovered, but it was no where near my maximum uninsured motorist coverage. For those who say lawyers are just in it for the money, his cut was not very much for the two years of work he and his staff put into it.

The other half of the accident was the trial of the young man who hit my car. I have also written about the Subpoena I received as a witness in the trial. The trial was originally scheduled for October 8, 2014 but postponed to November 5, 2014. I didn't want to drive to Martinez the day after Election Day, but the trial was postponed again.

When I didn't hear back from the DA by the end of the year, I phoned them early in January to find out when the trial would be rescheduled. I was told the young man pled to a Misdemeanor in December, so there would be no trial. I don't recall being notified that the trial was cancelled, but I am relieved that it is all over with.
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Comments

 +   3 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Feb 4, 2015 at 5:52 pm

What an awful experience. Hope you're feeling better. He may be a kid but he's still responsible for the harm that he visited upon you.

Take good care of yourself.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 4, 2015 at 9:46 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Cholo,

I'm much better now. I was told at the hospital it would take two months for my broken ribs to heal and there wasn't anything else they could do. They did heal after two months. I still have a little pain in my left shoulder. Everyone said I was lucky. If his SUV hit my car just a few inches over or if I didn't have side airbags, it could have been a lot worse. I recommend buying a car with side airbags to everyone.

Roz


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Damon, a resident of Foothill Knolls,
on Feb 5, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Running a red light at 40 mph while searching for a cell phone on the floor? Please tell us that the DMV revoked his license and that he isn't still driving.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 8, 2015 at 1:44 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Damon,

The accident was two years ago. I don't know if his license was suspended or for how long, but he's probably driving again. From what I've been told by witnesses, he was very sorry about the accident and wouldn't do that again.


Roz


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 7:48 am

Searching for his cell phone on the floor was he? It would be interesting to see if, with the rise of cell phone useage in the last few years, accidents such as yours have increased.
I'd be in favor of some kind of device that renders a cell phone inoperable while the car engine is running. Of course, cell phones are great for when one has a breakdown or accident, but when the car is running I think full attention should be on the road.
We have a law against talking or texting while driving but we all see drivers routinely ignoring that law.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by You deserved much more, a resident of another community,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 9:21 am

Being hit by an under insured person who was doing something that stupid is much more serious that a $25,000 claim. I am glad your attorney had you recover more from your own policy, it's why you pay for full insurance. I was hit by a young kid texting and driving. I showed no mercy when it came to the potential lawsuit, she and her parents needed to learn a big lesson. No attorneys were involved and I am certain that with your cognitive and writing skills you could have done well on your own. I cannot reveal the award, that's part of the settlement, but I will say that it will fund my retirement very nicely. There was no trial, just a signed agreement to make no further claims on the driver or the insurance company. And I kept all of it, none was given to any attorneys.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 11:30 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Thank you, "You Deserve," that's very nice of you.

I probably could have gotten the $25K myself, but it helped to have a lawyer to recover the additional amount from my insurance company.

I don't recommend having an accident to make money. I know there are insurance cheats who do that, but it seems sleazy to me to make money off of being hurt. That's why insurance companies do due diligence, which they should.

My lawyer did a lot of research on similar accidents and injuries and found that most other settlements came to close to or over $100K. I did not get anywhere near that, but I still came out with more than I expected. All I really wanted was to cover my expenses. It should not cost me thousands of dollars when it wasn't my fault.

Ed,

At least he was honest about it. I was told by witnesses at the scene that he was very concerned and wanted to come over and see if I was OK. Fortunately they kept him from doing that. I was still pretty dazed.

I'm not sure if he was talking on the phone or texting. He was in an older vehicle from 1998, but newer ones now use Bluetooth to talk on the phone without having to hold it. The real charge against him was being under the influence of marijuana.

I have a Dentist appointment again today but now I drive on San Ramon Valley Blvd. It's not as easy to run that light on Bollinger.

Roz


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Bob, a resident of Monte Vista High School,
on Feb 9, 2015 at 6:11 pm

When one driver sues another for damage resulting from a car accident, the person bringing the lawsuit (the plaintiff ) generally has to prove that the other driver (the defendant) caused the accident through his or her careless driving.
In some recent cases, plaintiffs have argued (and some courts have agreed) that a driver was legally at fault for the accident ("negligent," in legalese) because the driver used a cell phone immediately before or during the collision.
In other cases, injured plaintiffs have also been found to have contributed to the accident because they were using a cell phone while driving.
Examples of careless driving caused by cell phone use include:
driving with only one hand on the steering wheel
taking eyes off the road to reach for a cell phone or dial a number
failing to keep a proper lookout and to pay attention to surrounding dangers because of distractions caused by the cell phone (this includes being distracted by a passenger's cell phone use), and
being distracted by a conversation on a cell phone (according to some studies, being involved in any kind of conversation -- particularly an emotionally charged one -- is enough to distract a driver and cause him or her to drive carelessly).


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