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Thread: question for you lawyers

  1. #1
    Member Cory's Avatar
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    question for you lawyers

    After I saw the post about the guy sueing kawasaki I thought I'd ask. When I was injured I thought about sueing the honda motor company because there wasn't a headrest on the backseat which would have prevented my injury. The situation was I was in the back passenger side, we were in the right hand lane on the highway when a group of cars was merging onto the highway and one car in back was inpatient and jumped over the double white line right infront of us. Our cars didnt actually touch but the girl driving the car I was in swerved and we went out of control and ran into the highway wall backwards mostly on my side. I was wearing my seatbelt but the impact threw my head backwards so fast it broke my neck since there wasn't a headrest. I have an uncle who's a lawyer and he kinda handled things but he doesn't usually do injury type stuff and he and my parents decided it would be better just to get whatever we could like a settlement and not sue anyone, we kinda decided the people weren't rich and it would take too long and I didn't want to have to sue the girl I was riding with's family. I'm the type that hates to see frivilous lawsuits and I really didn't want to have to sue an individual person. I got a very small settlement from the girl who was driving the car I was in's insurance and a very small settlement from the lady who cut us off's insurance, the lady never looked back but a witness got her license plate. I used the money to buy my van and fix my parents home and that was it. So my questions are-

    1. Can you still sue anyone after 5 years and 2 months have passed
    2. If I got a settlement from the lady who cut us off's insurance does that keep me from doing anything in the future
    3. Could I realisticly sue honda for not having a headrest in the back of a I think 1996 honda civic
    4. Could I sue the lady who cut us off, I was told that since our vehicles never touched it would be hard to prove in court and she doesnt have any money anyway
    5. In any case would my friends who were in the car with me have to be a witness or anything or even know about it
    6. if by taking a settlement I lost my chances for any future lawsuit, could I bring up that my uncle handled it really without me knowing at the time
    7. I was also told if I got a large settlement my hmo would take it all anyway to pay for my medical expenses, is that true

    Thanks a lot, I know some of you went to law school and might know this
    stuff. I don't really "need" the money I would probably just pay my parents back for college and use it for my aids and extra medical stuff and donate the rest to research, and I wouldn't feel as guilty taking money from a big corporation that claims to have the best safety record but builds little cheap plastic p's.o.s

    [This message was edited by Cory on Jul 18, 2002 at 05:41 PM.]

    [This message was edited by Cory on Jul 18, 2002 at 05:43 PM.]

  2. #2
    Senior Member TD's Avatar
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    I'm not a lawyer but I can answer a couple of questions for you

    Originally posted by Cory:

    So my questions are-

    1. Can you still sue anyone after 5 years and 2 months have passed

    UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES THERE IS A ONE OR TWO YEAR STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON ANY LAWSUITS FROM MVAs.

    2. If I got a settlement from the lady who cut us off's insurance does that keep me from doing anything in the future

    QUESTION IS TOO VAGUE. IF YOU MEAN CAN YOU SUE AGAIN THE GENERAL ANSWER IS NO.

    3. Could I realisticly sue honda for not having a headrest in the back of a I think 1996 honda civic

    SEE ANSWER TO QUESTION ONE.

    4. Could I sue the lady who cut us off, I was told that since our vehicles never touched it would be hard to prove in court and she doesnt have any money anyway

    SEE ANSWER TO QUESTION ONE AND BESIDES, IT WOULD BE THROWING GOOD MONEY AFTER BAD.

    5. In any case would my friends who were in the car with me have to be a witness or anything or even know about it

    ANY LAWSUIT YOU BROUGHT THAT WOULD NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVE THEM WOULD BE YOUR BUSINESS AND UNLESS THEY WATCHED THE CIVIL SUIT FILINGS PUBLISHED BY THE COURT THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TO KNOW.

    6. if by taking a settlement I lost my chances for any future lawsuit, could I bring up that my uncle handled it really without me knowing at the time

    A SETTLEMENT USUALLY ENDS ANY CHANCE AT FUTURE COMPENSATION UNLESS YOU CAN PROVE GROSS NEGLIGENCE ON YOUR UNCLE'S PART OR COLLUSION BETWEEN HIM AND THE INSURANCE COMPANY.

    7. I was also told if I got a large settlement my hmo would take it all anyway to pay for my medical expenses, is that true

    YOUR MEDICAL EXPENSES SHOULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION AT THE TIME YOUR UNCLE WAS NEGOTIATING A SETTLEMENT. IF DONE CORRECTLY, THE SETTLEMENT SHOULD HAVE COVERED YOUR MEDICAL EXPENSES, PAID YOUR UNCLE, AND PROVIDED FOR YOUR FUTURE NEEDS.

    Thanks a lot, I know some of you went to law school and might know this
    stuff. I don't really "need" the money I would probably just pay my parents back for college and use it for my aids and extra medical stuff and donate the rest to research, and I wouldn't feel as guilty taking money from a big corporation that claims to have the best safety record but builds little cheap plastic p's.o.s

    [This message was edited by Cory on Jul 18, 2002 at 05:41 PM.]

    [This message was edited by Cory on Jul 18, 2002 at 05:43 PM.]
    If you want to go to college I would suggest you talk to your state's Vocational Rehabilitation agency. That is their primary function, to help the disabled get back into the workforce through education and/or job hunting.

    "And so it begins."

  3. #3
    Cory,

    First, let's get the legal disclaimers out of the way. I am licensed to practice law in California and not Texas. As such, I cannot provide legal advice regarding Texas state law, YOU NEED TO SEEK THE ADVICE OF A TEXAS ATTORNEY TO PROVIDE FORMAL COUNSEL TO YOUR QUESTIONS. What I offer here is merely intended as general information regarding certain issues that you raise. THIS ELECTRONIC MESSAGE IS IN NO WAY INTENDED TO BE RELIED UPON AS LEGAL ADVICE BY ANY PARTY WHO MAY READ ITS CONTENTS.

    Statute of Limitations:

    In many states one can only bring a suit for personal injury for up to one year after the date of the accident or date of injury. However, this may often be tolled (delayed) if the injured party was not of the age of maturity (ie often time 18 years old) at the time of the injury. this means if you were injured when you were 13...upon turning 18 you may still be able to bring a cause of action against the party who injured you. Also, in some states, if the action taken by the offender can be proven to be intentional or malicious the staute of limitations may also be tolled for a period of time. Five years is a long time...but you might get lucky.

    Previous Settlements: If you were not at the age of maturity (eg 18) and are within one year of becoming 18, you may still be able to sue on the grounds that you were not adequately represented (same analysis as above). There may also be other grounds to overturn the settlement as defective, but that would depend on facts not currently present. However, if the settlemnent is not defective it will bar you from pusueing that party with whom the settlement was reached.

    Proximate Cause: If the injury that was sustained was proximately caused by a design defect in the car you are riding in (ie poor headrest design) you may have an action against the car manufacturer. How this fits into the statute of limitations may be tricky...if you find through research that a number of people have suffered similar injuries you might be able to bring a class action against the manufacturer and avoid a lapse in the statute of limitations by piggybacking onto another plaintiffs claim. As such, as a named plaintiff you could obtain a substantial recovery. However, in order to get an attorney to buy off on bringing a class action, you'll need pretty good evidence up front of the design defect. The attorney, as in most PI cases, will have to "fund" the litigation effort and take their fees on a contingency, as such they want to know they have good odds going into the case. Class actions cost a lot of money.

    Witnesses: count on needing all percipient witnesses (those who were there)to the accident. This is why the Statute of Limitations exists ("SOL" nice acronym huh?)....its tough to recreate events beyond one year.

    Recovery:

    THE WOMAN:
    If the woman who cut you off has no money...your only recourse against her would be through insurance. If she has no insurance and no assets, she is what is termed in the legal profession as "judgment proof" (ie not worth suing). However, even if she did have insurance, you'll need to prove your case. And given that there was no physical contact the importance of third party witnesses will be crucial...hopefully the officer at the scene kept copious notes...again keep in mind the SOL.

    THE CAR MANUFACTURER:

    Need to prove 1) design defect in car seat was the cause; and (2)injury wasn't from another source or substantial contribution from another source didn't occur (i.e. did your friends or other non-medical personnel move you after the accident and cause or worsen the degree of your inury; heck..did the emergency medical personnel cause or worsen the injury???).

    Subrogation: The ability for your HMO to take a lien on any reward provided to you. Last I heard this question was before the Supreme Court, but that was over a year ago (I'm a corporate lawyer...I don't keep up on this area). Regardless, I believe that it also breaks down into whether you are being compensated for tort or compensatory damages. This a good one for your local counsel to provide clear guidance on.

    If I were ever involved in an accident simalar to my own again (God forbid) I would consider and do the following:

    1) Keep in mind that this isn't personal...you were injured and need access to the best medical care you can find...that takes money in this world. You're not out to ruin someone's life.

    2) People pay for insurance to ensure that if they injure someone, that person can be compensated. People who do not maintain insurance should not be engaging in any activity that can injure someone else (ie don't be an uninsured motorist). Accidents happen...be responsible... and get insured.

    3) Manufacturers put bad products out into the stream of commerce on a daily basis...sometimes negligently...sometimes not. Regardless, when those products injure people, part of the price of putting that product into the marketplace is to compensate those injured parties fairly. Manufacturers buy product liability insurance to cover these costs...don't feel guilty about asking what was taken from you.

    4) Insurers and defendants more often than not do not have your best interests in mind....they will seek to limit their liability...you must seek to maximize your recovery...fairness lies somewhere in between that's why we have courts, juries, judgments and settlements....its not perfect but I'll take it over the alternatives. Keep in mind...this is business...its not personal.

    5) Seek good legal counsel immediately. Other than word of mouth I rely upon Martindale Hubbel.com to find the best attorneys in a given area. When you go to this site you can put in your geographic location and the area of expertise you are looking for (look for personal injury and product liability specialists). I only put my friends into contact with those attorneys who are rated "AV". These attorneys have been rated by their peers and local judges as having the highest ability and ethics. If they can't consult with you, they will provide you with a referral of their own. Keep in mind that when choosing any attorney that 1) you are the client and they work for you; and 2) you expect good communication and respect. If your attorney has a problem with either of these points move IMMEDIATELY to the next guy. No matter how good that attorney may be, he/she will not be worth your time of day if they can't respect you and your needs.

    PS: I never sued on my own claim. Looking back I wish I had, because a number of others have been injured as a result of a dangerous roadway that the State of Montana should have repaired long before they did. Lawsuits aren't necessarily bad....it depends on the individuals involved and the motives behind them.

    I hope this help

    [This message was edited by larwatson on Jul 18, 2002 at 09:24 PM.]

  4. #4
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    lawsuit

    Cory,
    I'm licensed to practice in Wyoming and larwatson gave as good advice as you'll get. I just looked up your Texas statutes and the limitation is 2 years for personal injury but the time is tolled if you were under a disability at the time. Being under 18 is a disability in Texas.It still wouldn't hurt to get a consultation from a personal injury or products liability lawyer in Texas. Lots of them give free initial consultations.WR

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