Motor Vehicle Collisions
There are hundreds of motor vehicle collisions each day in California, and they are one of the largest causes of serious injury and death. If you are injured in a collision, you can recover all damages caused by a motor vehicle collision, including economic damages (your medical bills, wage loss, property damage, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain & suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional distress, loss of consortium). However, sometimes liability for the collision is disputed, and sometimes the insurance coverage issues as to which insurance policy is primary, secondary, or excess (or even if there is any coverage or whether Prop 213 applies) are complex. Mr. Tomasik’s previous work as a former defense attorney for insurance companies, and his work for more than two decades serving injured claimants, has enabled him to obtain recoveries that far exceed those expected by his colleagues.
A person who is injured in a motor vehicle collision generally has two years to file a lawsuit (but only 6 months to file a government claim), so if you intend to retain an attorney to pursue legal compensation for a collision, it is important to act quickly before evidence disappears (skid marks, surveillance video, etc.) or witnesses move away. For example, Mr. Tomasik handled a wrongful death claim where a 75 year old grandfather was walking in a crosswalk on a walk signal and was crushed to death by a delivery truck making a left turn. The delivery company had a team of investigators on site within minutes, and they were told by neighboring businesses that there was no surveillance video images of the fatal collision. The decedent’s children initially hired another very prominent attorney who did not send anyone to the incident scene to search for evidence. Mr. Tomasik then took over the case and made multiple visits to neighboring businesses, and was also initially told that there was no surveillance video. However, he insisted on seeing the video monitors and then the video from the day of the incident, and he was then able to obtain three crucial surveillance videos that proved the truck driver was at fault. In addition, a pivotal independent witness (who police did not interview and who was not identified in the police report) was shown on one of the videos, and Mr. Tomasik enlarged the video to view her license plate, and was then able to contact her through DMV records and interview her. She was very relieved to be able to share what she had seen in this tragic incident, but her voice never would have been heard if not for Mr. Tomasik’s diligence and persistence.
Motor Vehicle/Pedestrian Collisions
Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians involve many of the same issues as motor vehicle collisions, but there are some differences in the applicable law. Pedestrians generally have the right-of-way, and CACI 710 provides “While both drivers and pedestrians must be aware that motor vehicles can cause serious injuries, drivers must use more care than pedestrians.”
Mr. Tomasik represented a 52 year old woman who was walking on a sidewalk when she was struck by a truck. The case was referred to Mr. Tomasik by a friend of a former client who Mr. Tomasik had represented in a wrongful death case. Mr. Tomasik scoured the neighborhood searching for surveillance video but could not find any, so he hired a video graphics company to create an animated video of how the collision occurred, including how Plaintiff’s femur and ribs were fractured at impact. The slow-motion injury animation was instrumental in Mr. Tomasik obtaining a two million dollar settlement on behalf of his client.
Bicycle and motorcycle cases present their own unique legal and social challenges. Even though bicycles and motorcycles help ease traffic congestion and are better for the environment than cars and trucks, there are a lot of prejudices against those who choose these modes of transportation and then seek compensation for their injuries. Mr. Tomasik has successfully handled these cases, including representing a UC-Berkeley student who suffered a ruptured testicle as a result of a motorcycle collision with a van. The defendant’s insurance company stated that the highest previous recovery for an injured or lost testicle in California was $325,000, and proclaimed that they would not even pay that much to Mr. Tomasik’s client, but the case settled shortly before trial for $625,000.
Mr. Tomasik has successfully handled wrongful death cases on behalf of the relatives left behind by these tragedies. Mr. Tomasik focuses not only on the legal aspects of these cases, but also extends personal compassion and support to his clients during this most difficult time in their lives. The legal nuances of who can be a claimant and what types of damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case can be complex. For instance, punitive damages cannot be recovered in a wrongful death case, but they can be recovered in a Survival Action based upon a wrongful death case.
Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM)
If you or a family member are injured by a motorist who has no auto liability insurance (or not enough insurance), you may be able to recover compensation from your own insurance company if you have sufficient UM/UIM coverage. While somewhat similar to third-party cases in the California court system, UM/UIM claims are generally not filed in court. UM/UIM claims are subject to additional special rules that are enunciated in California Insurance Code §11580.2.
In 1996, Mr. Tomasik published an article in Forum, the legal magazine for Consumer Attorneys of California, and Mr. Tomasik was deluged with calls from other attorneys around California asking for advice on California UM/UIM law. Mr. Tomasik has learned many technical nuances about UM/UIM law that other attorneys are often not familiar with, and this has enabled him to obtain excellent recoveries for his clients. Mr. Tomasik represented a young woman who was injured in a collision in Arkansas who initially retained one of the most prominent attorneys in Arkansas. After she became dissatisfied with that attorney, she hired Mr. Tomasik to take over her representation. She had UM/UIM coverage under her father’s insurance company, who put up one hurdle after another and engaged Mr. Tomasik in a complex procedural battle that lasted over two years and took many twists and turns. The claim eventually settled for total benefits of $812,500, which the insurance company’s law firm informed Mr. Tomasik was the largest settlement they had ever paid out to a claimant.
While many people have prejudices against and stereotypes of incidents caused by dangerous premises such as slip and falls and trip and falls, these cases often have a great deal of merit. Some people injured on someone else’s property incorrectly believe that they can recover for injuries even if the property or business owner did nothing wrong, but California law requires that the injured person prove that the land owner or business owner have done something negligent to have caused the fall (such as unreasonably allow an unsafe condition to exist when they had sufficient time to either repair or warn of the unsafe condition).
Mr. Tomasik handled a slip-and-fall case of a 67 year old retired woman who slipped on liquid in a large grocery store. Plaintiff’s safety expert tested the coefficient of friction of the flooring material that the store had chosen to use in their store despite the frequent existence of liquids on the floor, and found that the material was completely inappropriate for that type of store. The insurance company for the store offered $130,000 to settle the case, but after a bitterly contested trial that lasted 11 days, Mr. Tomasik obtained a jury verdict of $1,077,063 for his client.
In another case, an elderly grandmother was walking down a ramp for disabled persons at a State Farm Insurance office. Unfortunately, someone from State Farm had painted over yellow warning paint that made the steep sides of the ramp visible, and the ramp also violated ADA safety requirements in several other ways. Plaintiff could not see the sides of ramp, and this caused her to fall on her face and sustain a severe jaw fracture. State Farm did not remedy the dangerous code violations after learning of the incident, but when learning about the lawsuit, they quickly corrected the unsafe conditions (probably to cover up any evidence showing that they were liable). Fortunately, Mr. Tomasik took many photographs of the dangerous conditions from many different angles before it was repaired, so he was able to obtain a favorable settlement for his client. Mr. Tomasik’s client was also very pleased that her lawsuit motivated State Farm to finally repair the ramp so that it would not be a risk to other people in the future, and thus her case made the world a slightly safer place.
RSD/CRPS (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
RSD/CRPS is fairly rare syndrome involving a disturbance to the sympathetic nervous system, and is often caused by traumatic injuries, especially to the hands and feet. It was first noticed by the medical community in the Civil War, but since it is a very complex disease that takes many forms and has a constellation of different symptoms, it is often undiagnosed and misunderstood by treating medical personnel. Some of the symptoms that a person with RSD/CRPS may have are burning, swelling, sweating, significant temperature variation between limbs, skin mottling and discoloration, bone density changes, abnormal hair or nail growth, and major, unrelenting pain. Although RSD/CRPS symptoms can sometimes be minimized by implanting spinal cord stimulators in the patient’s body, Ketamine infusions and other treatment, it is generally believed that RSD/CRPS is permanent. It can sometimes spread throughout the body to other limbs.
Mr. Tomasik has successfully handled numerous RSD/CRPS cases, and is very familiar with the medical literature regarding this very serious condition. He also has communicated with (and taken the depositions of) some of the most prominent medical experts in the world regarding RSD/CRPS. These cases have resulted in some of Mr. Tomaik’s largest recoveries for his clients.