Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

Hi, 4 years ago, a young driver driving fast and recklessly hit and landed on top of my friend's Lexus, totaling it and requiring the jaws of life to extract her. She sustained multiple injuries including closed head injury significantly lowering her IQ and disabling her from taking care of herself re daily functions of life. She also sustained injuries to her body leading to her living in chronic pain and an inability to use one of her hands/arms, Because of these, she's unable to work. The guy who hit her ran away for a year, harbored by his relatives. Approx. 3-5 months in, she hired a personal injury attorney. Since then, basically nothing has been done other than a settlement conference with a very low ball offer that would not cover treatment physical and psychological treatment, forced retirement instead of being able to retire with a full pension after working for years, all money in savings used up and a caregiver needed (older mom has to do everything for her). Settlement dates keep changing. She and her family would like to take this to Court but her attorney keeps scheduling settlement conference dates.

1. Does she have to do any more settlement conferences? She's living on oatmeal and peanut butter.

2. What responsibility does her atty. have in bringing this to Court? Again, it's been 4 years.

3. Can she fire this attorney and hire one who will go to Court without her having to compensate the first attorney?

4. Can the relatives who harbored him for the year he fled be sued for damages?

5. Can she sue for the wages she would have earned had she been able to continue working and for the additional pension money she would and should have received after a few more years. Can she sue for all the outflow of money for services related to treatment and for additional treatment needed?

Thank you.

Asked on 11/09/11, 3:50 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Daniel Bakondi The Law Office of Daniel Bakondi

I presume the attorney has filed a lawsuit against the driver, and now this matter is already in court, and what you are referring to is *trial*? The reason I say this, is because the time to file a lawsuit has likely passed. Did the driver have insurance? Did your friend? 1. Usually there is only one mandatory settlement conference before trial. 2. Your attorney should take this to *trial* if he does not get a satisfactory settlement offer. 3. If it is contingency, then she may have options, depending on the agreement, but proceed with the advice of a new attorney. They may split the fees. 5. Yes, yes. She sounds entitled to a large recovery, the question is the amount on insurance, and the other driver's assets, and quickness to declare BK.

Best of luck to you and your friend,

Daniel Bakondi, Esq.

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Answered on 11/09/11, 4:10 pm

Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

I agree with Mr. Bakondi. Note that the appropriate settlement amount depends upon more than just what it would take to adequately compensate your friend. That would probably require millions of dollars. A settlement will have to factor in what the defendant can actually pay. He most likely does not have millions of dollars. He may have virtually nothing. Even if he had insurance, his policy limits may be low. And as Mr. Bakondi mentioned, he can potentially eliminate his debt to your friend by going bankrupt. You don't seem to have considered any of these factors. The lawyer may be acting very prudently, though I don't have enough information to say whether he is or not.

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Answered on 11/09/11, 7:30 pm
Timothy McCormick Libris Solutions - Dispute Resolution Services

I can think of no excuse for this case dragging out this long. She should hire a new attorney at once. The two attorneys can sort out the fees if it is on contingency. If the current attorney is on an hourly basis, she should refuse to pay any more and demand fee arbitration. A new attorney can help with that.

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Answered on 11/14/11, 12:53 pm

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