Medical Malpractice – Misread Tests and Radiographic Studies

Medical Malpractice, do I have a case

Medical Malpractice Call

Almost once a week I get a call regarding a potential medical malpractice case involving a misread test or x-ray. A patient can suffer serious personal injury or even death because of misread x-rays or tests. In Pasadena, California the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz are all too familiar with such medical malpractice claims in which patients suffered personal injury or death.

 

Brain Cancer Study

Brain MRI Showing Cancer

I got a call yesterday from a possible client who is a patient at Kaiser Permanente. He believes he may have been a victim of medical negligence because of a misread radiographic study, resulting in at least a three year delay in treatment.

I also got a call from another potential client, yesterday, who believes mammograms may have been misread resulting in three and a half year delay in treatment.

When we have medical testing and in particular x-rays or other radiographic studies as a patient you expect to receive a correct reading of the study or test and a correct diagnosis of any health problems that you may have. Studies and tests are done to evaluate, guide treatment decisions and give you information about your health. As well, provide the opportunity for you to receive care for any problems that may affect your health and well-being.

Medical Malpractice if fine needle aspiration cytology is misread

Misread ultrasound can have devasting consequences.

Unfortunately, things can go wrong and medical malpractice happens. The failure to do proper testing or properly read an X-ray or other radiographic study (medical malpractice) can have devastating consequences. You may lose the opportunity for early intervention. When that opportunity is lost, you may experience a worsening of your medical condition. Sometimes, you may need more complicated, dangerous or expensive treatment as a result. In the most tragic cases, a person may even die from injuries or an illness that otherwise may have been treated or preventable. Severe personal injury or death can happen becasue of medical malpractice.

 

Medical Malpractice Misread Study

MRI Studies life saving if read correctly

Medical testing and x-rays or other radiographic studies are some tools that doctors use to diagnose patients with many different illnesses and injuries. Some examples of testing / procedures patients may undergo are X-rays, MRIs, CT-Scans, PET-Scans, Bone scans, Ultrasounds and Mammograms to name a few.

Some examples of tests or diagnostic work ups include Pap smears, Cancer screenings for cervical cancer, prostate cancer or other common cancers, Biopsies to detect if there is a malignant tumor or cancer cells in the body, Blood pressure tests, Allergy test, Cholesterol tests, Allergy test, Blood tests, Amniocentesis to detect fetal abnormalities, STD testing, including testing for HIV/AIDs, Fertility testing.

These studies and tests are done to figure out what is wrong with you. From broken bones to cancers to other life-threatening illnesses. Prenatal tests can tell you whether your baby is going to be born with a serious or fatal condition. Allergy tests can determine if whether you are allergic to anything that could cause a fatal reaction or whether your cholesterol or high blood pressure are putting you at risk of a heart attack. When a mistake is made on any of these studies or tests, the consequences may be far-reaching. Bad medicine can seriously adversely affect one’s health as a result.

The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has handled many medical malpractice cases involving misread tests and misread X-Rays and other radiographic studies. Some of the cases we have handled resulted in serious injury or death as a result of an internal bleeding or leak going undetected or misread. Because of mammograms being misread, the progression of cancer spreading throughout the body. Worsening of cardiac problems from failure to see the signs of trouble in an artery. Brain damage because of an internal brain bleed being missed. As a result of the improper pap smear cervical cancer went undetected. The examples go on and on.

These and other consequences of medical malpractice can be devastating or fatal. One report found that 28 percent of 583 diagnostic mistakes were life threatening or had resulted in death or permanent disability. Another study estimated that fatal diagnostic errors in U.S. intensive care units result in 40,500 deaths each year.

Healthcare professionals make many different types of mistakes in reading tests and X-rays. Tests can be lost, patient sample mix ups have known to happen. There also situations where a doctor or other healthcare professional never follows up with a lab to see what became of the results or the results come into the office and no one ever reads the report. These are all examples of medical malpractice.

It is devastating when the healthcare providers who were supposed to protect and treat you make mistakes that cost you your health or the life of a loved one. Negligent healthcare providers must be held accountable.

Getting help from a personal injury lawyer who has a deep background in medical malpractice law is important. I have more than thirty-five years of experience. My office has a superb track record in handling medical malpractice claims. To learn more about how I can assist you with your case, please give me a call. My office serves clients throughout Pasadena, Los Angeles and California. Please give me, Richard M. Katz, a call at 626-796-6333.

HOSPITAL INFECTIONS – MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE ?

Patient InfectionAlthough the United States is improving on preventing hospital infections and healthcare-associated infections, greater diligence is needed – particularly in fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Far too many patients are getting antibiotic resistant infections from health care providers including hospitals, doctors and nurses. As well as HMOs such as Kaiser Permanente.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest Vital Signs report urges healthcare workers to use a combination of infection control recommendations to better protect patients from these infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. said according to a recent posting that “New data show that far too many patients are getting infected with dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria in healthcare settings. . . Doctors and healthcare facilities have the power to protect patients – no one should get sick while trying to get well.”

While hospitalized antibiotic-resistant bacteria threaten patients while they are being treated in healthcare facilities for other conditions, often post surgery. These infections can lead to sepsis and/or death.

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria

Pretty But Deadly ! – Hospital Infections

In acute care hospitals, catheter- and surgery-related HAIs can be caused by several antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In long-term acute care hospitals, which treat patients who are generally very sick and stay, on average, more than 25 days the rate of infection is greater.

The six antibiotic-resistant threats examined are:
Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE)
ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae (extended-spectrum ß-lactamases)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter
Multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa
Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE)

Deaths Result from Blood Strem Infections

Hospital Infections – Deaths Result from Blood Strem Infections

The most common hospital acquired infections according to the C DC are in central line-associated bloodstream infections; surgical site infections; catheter-associated urinary tract infections. A central line is a catheter that doctors place in a large vein in the neck, chest, or groin to give medication. Infections occur when bacteria or viruses enter bloodstream through the central line.

C. difficile

Clostridium Difficile – Hospital Infections

 

 

 

 

 

The most common type of bacteria responsible for infections in hospitals is Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C. difficile caused almost half a million infections in the United States in 2011 alone.

 

 

 

Congress has recognized the urgent need to combat antibiotic resistance. In fiscal year 2016, Congress appropriated $160 million in new funding for CDC to implement its activities listed in the National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria. With this funding, CDC will fight the spread of antibiotic resistance by: accelerating outbreak detection and prevention in every state; enhancing tracking of resistance mechanisms and resistant infections; supporting innovative research to address current gaps in knowledge; and improving antibiotic use.

If you or a loved one has injured as a result of medical care you received you may have a claim for medical negligence. You should contact a medical malpractice / personal injury attorney to review your matter.

As an experienced Pasadena medical malpractice / personal injury attorney, I can assist you should you have any questions. Please feel free to call Richard M. Katz, Esq., am right here to address your concerns and offer you assistance. For a complimentary assessment, call me at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE A CAR ACCIDENT 7 STEP GUIDE

A car accident can happen at anytime or anywhere. In an automobile accident you can suffer personal injuries or at the very least in can leave you feeling disoriented and worried.  You are driving and traffic and without warning your are in a traffic accident.

LA-Traffic-405-Day5

Car Accident Can Happen Anytime or Anywhere

That’s why I am providing with some basic information to help you if you should be unlucky and have a car accident. Our Seven Step Guide can help you make good decisions after an accident. Help keep you and others safe.

 

 

 

 

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Car Accident on Freeway. Exercise Caution

1. Stop your vehicle and get out, ONLY IF SAFE TO DO SO.
After a car accident, stop your vehicle, turn off the engine, put the car into park or if a manual transmission put the hand brake on. Take a few seconds to gather yourself. Put on your warning flashers. Before exiting your vehicle make sure it is safe to do so. Calmly and safely exit your vehicle.

2. Check on others involved, MAKE SURE NO ONE IS BADLY HURT
Makes sure that everyone involved in the car accident are safe and not badly hurt. Call 911 if anyone seems to be injured. Even a seemingly minor complaint such as dizziness may be sign of head trauma and the person should be looked at by a medical professional. If the collision is not too bad and no one is badly and you are in moving traffic, you are at risk for being involved in a second accident. So consider step 3.

3. Move Cars to A Safe Area, IF IT CAN BE DONE SAFELY
If your car is drivable and no one is seriously injured , move your car to a safe area. Such as the shoulder of the road or curb side. Many people get injured in “second accidents” because cars are left in dangerous locations. However, if moving your car is not possible then turn on your hazzard lights and if you have them put out flares or warning lanterns. That last thing you need is another car running into you or your vehicle.

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Highway Patrol Investigating Car Accident

4. Call the Highway Patrol or Local Police to the Accident Scene, DON’T ARGUE WITH THEM
A official accident report is often invaluable when dealing with your or the other driver’s insurance company. Cooperate with the investigating officer, but you probably should avoid admitting fault or blaming others at the accident scene. The investigating officers gather facts and statements to determine who, if anyone, they believe is at fault in for the crash.

At times, the Highway Patrol or Police will decline to come to the scene of the accident, especially if it is a minor collision and no one is seriously hurt. Whether the police come to the scene of the accident or not, make sure you gather all the necessary information. Sometimes the police do not get all the information available. See step 5 and 6 below.

5. Photographs and Clips of the Accident Scene, ONLY IF IT CAN BE DONE SAFELY
Do not hesitate to use your cell phone to take photographs or clips of the accident scene, if safe to do so. Such evidence may be helpful later on to establish what happened and why. As well, photographs or clips can document many aspect of the accident. Including; vehicle identity (i.e. license plate numbers, color and type of car); vehicle damage; street layout and configuration. Often these photographs and clips help in resolving issues later on.

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Cell phones Helpful in a Car Accident

6. Gather Information.
Try to get as much information as possible. Cell phones are great for taking pictures of not only the scene of the accident but also drivers licenses, insurance information, etc . . . as well as using the note features. If you do not have a cell phone write down as much info as possible. The information you should get following a car accident, includes:
Names addresses and telephone numbers for the other driver(s) and passenger(s)
Makes and models of all vehicles involved
License plate numbers of all vehicles involved
Insurance information for each vehicle involved
Names addresses and telephone numbers for any eyewitnesses.                                     Suumary of what witnesses saw
Location of the accident
The name and badge number of any responding police officers

7. Contact Your Insurance Company to Report the Car Accident.
Many insurance companies now provide their customers with toll free numbers to report accidents, even from the scene of the accident. Other companies have a process to file claims on line. Your insurance card should have contact information on it. Usually, your insurance company will guide you through the process of getting your car fixed and letting you know what coverages you have.

If you have any questions following a car accident or you have injured you may want to contact a personal injury attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations you should avail yourself of this valuable and free service.

As an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, I can assist you should you have any questions. Please feel free to call Richard M. Katz, Esq., am right here to address your concerns and offer you assistance. For a complimentary assessment, call me at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

I HAD A CAR ACCIDENT, DO I NEED A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER ?

Car Accident

Car Accident

You have just been involved in a car accident. You probably have a host of questions. Such as who is at fault? Who pays for damages to my automobile? Am I entitled to a rental car? If I need medical attention who will pay for my medical costs? Can I ask the insurance company to compensate me for lost wages? You probably have these and many more questions.

If you did not suffer any personal injury or only minor aches and pains that quickly resolve without the need for medical attention you probably do not need a personal injury attorney to represent you for your car accident.

But if you suffered personal injuries, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney and his office can be exceptionally helpful. An experienced personal injury will often be able to guide you through the often disorderly and often perplexing world of insurance claims. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you after a car accident assures that you will have an expert working for you. It will help “level the playing field.” An experienced personal injury lawyer can probably provide recommendations and suggestions to help you recover from your injuries.

A personal injury lawyer will tell you about the appropriate statute of limitations for your claim, failing to sue timely, will prevent you from pursuing a claim against the at-fault motorist. For example, in many states you should submit your lawsuit within 2 years of your auto accident or be barred from pursuing your lawsuit. Some states require government claims be filed before filing a lawsuit and such government claims must be filed. In some states government claims statutes can be as short as 90 to 180 days and also applies to minor’s claims.

The law differs from state to state. The federal government has their own claim requirements. An experienced personal injury lawyer will educate you concerning these statutes of limitations. There may exist unique exceptions to the statute of limitations — for minors, as an example.  Your attorney can file a legal action for you if necessary. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how handle / address defenses raised by the insurance company / the opposite side. Additionally, if your matter is litigated, an attorney will be an indispensable guide in navigating the often contentious world of trial preparation. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side puts you on equal footing with the insurance company and their lawyers.

There is a great deal of work and preparation that goes into handling a personal injury claim and working with an insurance company or defense attorneys to resolve a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will see that you get proper compensation for your personal injuries and other economic losses.

Crashed Car - Automobile Accident

Crashed Car – Automobile Accident

After you have been in a car accident, the last thing you want to do is to take on the time-consuming job in trying to handle the claim yourself. Most folks simply do not have the experience to handle their personal injury claims without the assistance of an attorney.

Since most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingent fee basis and are paid upon a successful resolution of your claim, there is often little motivation to try to take care of these kinds of cases by yourself, especially if you suffered injuries.

However, most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations so it probably is a good idea to call a personal injury attorney to get some insight. Feel free to call the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333 for a free consultation. Or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/

Bringing A Medical Malpractice Claim against Kaiser

Medical Malp;ractice X-Ray misread

Medical Malpractice X-Ray Misread

KAISER MALPRACTICE CLAIMS

Thinking about brining a medical malpractice claim against Kaiser? There are several “Kaiser” entities in California. For Southern California these entities include Kaiser Foundation Health Plan or Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and Southern California Permanente Medical Group. In Northern California these entities include Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (“Health Plan”), Kaiser Permanente Insurance Corporation (“KPIC”), Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and/or The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. It is important when filing a claim that you name proper entities. I will refer to these entities in this article collectively as Kaiser.

Medical malpractice claims resulting in injury or death against Kaiser are generally subject to binding arbitration. Adults and children, if they are health plan members, are subject to the contractual terms of the Kaiser arbitration agreement. As well, two California Court of Appeal decisions holds that an unborn child become Kaiser Permanente members, subject to the Kaiser Permanente arbitration contract upon birth. Therefore, birth injuries are subject to the arbitration provisions of the Kaiser contract.

The dangers of the statute of limitations, although Kaiser Permanente generally cannot be sued in the Superior Court the same statute of limitations applies against Kaiser as would apply against any other health care provider in California. The statute of limitations for medical negligence and medical wrongful death claims is contained in California Code of Civil Procedure §340.5. Essentially the statute requires that an aggrieved party (an injured person or a wrongful death claim) take action within one year of discovering a medically caused injury or death. If a claim involves a birth injury to a child then California Code of Civil Procedure §340.4 is applicable which essentially requires that a minor’s claim for personal injuries sustained before or during his or her birth must be commenced within six years after the date of birth.

Under California Code of Civil Procedure §364 before filing a lawsuit or a demand for arbitration one must send a notice of intent to sue (sometimes called “90 day letters.”) Depending upon when the statute of limitations is, a letter sent according to California Code of Civil Procedure §364 can “toll” the statute of limitations. However, there are many technical issues involved regarding letters sent following California Code of Civil Procedure §364 and California Code of Civil Procedure § 364.1. As well, the failure to give the notice does not invalidate a properly filed suit or demand for arbitration. However, it may be grounds for disciplining the attorney as stated in California Code of Civil Procedure §365BEWARE: THIS IS A HIGHLY TECHNICAL LAW IN MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES IN CALIFORNIA, THE USE OF WHICH MAY ADVERSELY AFFECT YOUR RIGHTS

Medical Malpractice - MRI misread

Medical Malpractice – MRI Misread

In California, medical malpractice claims are subject to a cap on general damages of $250,000 this is not just against Kaiser but all health care providers. Keep in mind that the cap on general damages is for pain and suffering and wrongful death claims only. The ability to recover economic damages are unlimited. So economic damages can include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings, lost earning capacity, loss of ability to provide household services. Economic damages in some cases can be hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars depending upon the facts and circumstances involved. Our office has recovered many times, much more than $250,000 for injured claimants or families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.Rules-1-1-15

BEGINNING THE KAISER’S ARBITRATION PROCESS

Kaiser claims are currently overseen and administered by the Office of the Independent Administrator in the Law Offices of Marcella A. Bell. Their contact information is Office of the Independent Administrator, P.O. Box 76587, Los Angeles, CA 90076-0587, phone (213) 637-9847, fax (213) 637-8658 and e-mail is oia@oia-kaiserarb.com

As stated on their website the “There is no required Demand for Arbitration form. If you want, a letter to Kaiser Permanente is sufficient. Please note that it is necessary to have the words “Demand for Arbitration.” Rules 7 and Rule 8 in our Rules for Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitrations provide additional information in preparing your Demand.”.

Rules for Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitrations provides as follows regarding content: “Rule 7. Contents of the Demand for Arbitration. The Demand for Arbitration shall include the basis of the claim against the Respondent(s); the amount of damages the Claimant(s) seeks in the Arbitration; the name, address and telephone number of the Claimant(s) and their attorney, if any; and the name of all Respondent(s). Claimant(s) shall include all claims against Respondent(s) that are based on the same incident, transaction, or related circumstances in the Demand for Arbitration.”

Rules for Kaiser Permanente Member Arbitrations provides with regarding to serving the demand for arbitration as follows “Rule 8. Serving Demand for Arbitration a. In Northern California, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. (“Health Plan”), Kaiser Permanente Insurance Corporation (“KPIC”), Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and/or The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. shall be served with a Demand for Arbitration by mailing the Demand for Arbitration addressed to that Respondent(s) in care of:

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Legal Department
P.O. Box 12916
Oakland, CA 94604

or

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Legal Department
1950 Franklin Street, 17th Floor
Oakland, CA 94604

Service on that Respondent shall be deemed completed when received [EMPHASIS ADDED] .

b. In Southern California, Health Plan, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, and/or Southern California Permanente Medical Group, shall be served with a Demand for Arbitration by mailing the Demand for Arbitration to that Respondent(s) in care of:

Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.
Legal Department
393 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA 91188

Service on that Respondent shall be deemed completed when received [EMPHASIS ADDED] .
c. All other Respondent(s), including individuals, must be served as required by the California Code of Civil Procedure for a civil action.
d. All Respondent(s) served with a Demand for Arbitration in the manner described above shall be Parties to the Arbitration. The Arbitrator shall have jurisdiction only over Respondent(s) actually served. If Claimant(s) serves any Respondent(s) other than an organization affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, the Claimant(s) shall serve a proof of service of that Respondent(s) on the Independent Administrator.
e. Where an order to arbitrate has been entered, the underlying court complaint constitutes the Demand for Arbitration and the entry of the order constitutes its service.”

AFTER THE DEMAND FOR ARBITRATION IS SERVED

Generally within three days of receiving notice of the Demand for Arbitration, the Office of Independent Administrator will send each party a randomly-generated list of twelve arbitrators from which to choose.

The parties can also agree on a neutral arbitrator from outside the system if the arbitrator is otherwise qualified and follows the system’s rules. The parties then have 20 days to return their arbitrator choices. The administrator then selects an arbitrator to serve on the case, based on the parties’ selections.

The arbitrator is required to hold an arbitration management conference within 60 days of being appointed. At the management conference the arbitrator and the parties set deadlines for remaining events, including the mandatory settlement meeting and the arbitration hearing date.

Finally, if no settlement is reached, the arbitrator will conduct the “arbitration.” Generally claims are resolved or arbitrated within 2 to 3 years, depending upon the complexity of the case.

THE ARBITRATION PROCESS

Medical Malpractice Surgical Errors

Medical Malpractice Surgical Errors Image: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

The arbitration process is a legal proceeding. In many ways it is a trial without a jury. The process is very similar to a lawsuit filed in Court. At the arbitration hearing, you and the other side present witnesses, including medical and other experts, and other evidence. Generally civil procedure rules of evidence basically apply in arbitrations.  The Arbitrator(s) hears the evidence and act as the judges. Arbitrators decide cases based on the evidence presented by both sides and the law. The Arbitrator’s decision is final, binding, and can be enforced in court.

A person who represents himself or herself is acting in propria persona or “in pro per.” You are held to the same standards as a lawyer in presenting your case and have the same requirements to provide expert testimony to establish your claim and your claim for damages. The Office of Independent Administrator provides a OIA Handout that explains some of the most commonly asked questions. The handout does not replace the Rules for Kaiser Member Arbitrations Administered by the Office of the Independent Administrator (Rules). Everyone is responsible for following the Rules.

In my opinion it is not a good idea to represent yourself in these types of proceedings. You have the same responsibilities as a lawyer.

It is not possible to explain the arbitration process in this article. There are books written for people who represent themselves in legal proceedings. If you are going to represent yourself I strongly recommend that you educate yourself on the process.

The sad fact is statistics show that individuals who represent themselves in these types of proceedings without the benefit of a malpractice lawyer lose 75% to 85% percent of the time!

FURTHER ASSISTANCE

If you are a Kaiser Permanente patient or member and have suffered a personal injury or the loss of a loved as the result of negligence or carelessness by one of your medical providers, you need the Law offices of Richard M. Katz. We understand the Kaiser Permanente system and we have a history of successfully representing patients and families in arbitration proceedings. Please call me for a complimentary assessment. I can be reached at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my site http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/.

THIS WEB PAGE IS AN INFORMATIONAL STATEMENT OF CALIFORNIA LAW ONLY, AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF SELF-HELP.

Personal Injury Costs $671 Billion Dollars In The United States

Personal Injury Costs

Personal Injury Costs In the U.S.

According to two new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) reports, for 2013 $671 billion were the total costs of personal injuries and violence in the United States. Fatal injury costs was $214 billion and nonfatal injury costs were over $457 billion

The numbers for the United States are staggering, injuries, including all causes of unintentional and violence-related injuries combined, accounted for 59% of all deaths among persons ages 1–44 years of age. To put that into perspective that is more deaths than non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases combined. About 27 million people are treated in emergency departments and released, over 3 million people are hospitalized and more than 192,000 die as a result of unintentional and violence related injuries each year.

Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control is reported as stating “The magnitude of costs associated with injury underscores the need for effective prevention. It is crucial that communities and states increase efforts to implement evidence-based programs and policies to prevent injuries and violence to reduce not only the pain and suffering of victims, but also the considerable costs to society.”

The two studies include lifetime medical and work loss costs for injury related deaths and injuries treated and released in hospitals and emergency departments, and provide costs by age, gender, and injury intent. Other key findings include:

Men accounted for 78 percent of fatal injury costs ($166.7 billion) and 63 percent of nonfatal injury costs ( $287.5 billion).

More than 50 percent of the total medical costs and work loss costs related to personal injury were attributable unintentional injuries, which I interpret mean negligent acts or omissions ($129.7 billion). The other causes of death included suicide ($50.8 billion) and homicide ($26.4 billion).

Poisonings from drugs, including prescription drug overdoses, accounted for 27 percent of fatal injury costs, transportation caused / related deaths account accounted for 23 percent of the costs and deaths related to firearm use accounted for 22 percent of costs.

Costs, for personal injuries that required hospitalization in 2013, were $289.7 billion. The costs for injuries that were treated and released in hospital and emergency departments were $167.1 billion.

Slip and Fall / Trip and Fall

Slip and Fall / Trip Fall Can Cause Fatal Injuries

Slip and Falls and Trip and Falls account for 37 percent of costs associated with emergency room care. Transportation-related personal injuries, automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, public transportation accidents accounted for 21 percent of the costs associated with emergency department treatment for nonfatal injuries.

The chart below shows that personal injury is the #1 killer of children in the United States.

Personal Injury - Children

Personal Injury – Children

As you can see the economic toll associated with personal injuries is staggering. In addition to costs associated with accidents, the human toll is even greater, considering the pain and suffering the victims and their family goes through. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is important that we all act in way that helps reduce and prevent injuries whether the result of negligence, violence or unfortunate incidences.

As an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, I know how accidents can cause severe personal injuries, for more than three decades, The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has been her to help. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or the loss of a loved one, for a complimentary assessment, kindly do not hesitate to provide me a call. 626-796-6333 or call me through my site http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.

 

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS, SLIP AND FALL ACCIDENTS, PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS – WHY IT TAKES TIME TO SETTLE THESE CLAIMS

Personal injury claims consist of many different types of claims. Those claims included automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents.

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Personal Injury Involving Ambulance Service

Generally, medical malpractice, elder abuse, defective drugs, train crashes and airplane crashes are handled differently then general personal injury claims. Personal injury claims such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims I have found common factors in the claims handling process.

Often clients feel it “takes too long” to get their cases settled and sometimes feel that the “offers are too low.” First you should know that no two claims are the same. Claims like people are individual and unique.

Why it often takes a long time to settle many personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims, is because the claims settlement process requires considerable documentation. An insurance company rarely if ever accepts an attorney’s representations without supporting documentation. Often the smaller the claim, the more difficult it is to settle, particularly when it comes to the “pain and suffering” aspects of the claim. As well, contested liability claims are very difficult to settle the insurance carrier takes the position “our insured did nothing wrong.”

When it comes to claims handling it is constantly entertaining to see how different companies choose individuals to manage its finances: in banks, the lowest paid staff members are usually tellers and count the cash; in a storehouse, the shipping clerk sends out and receives everything owned by the company; and in most accounting departments, a clerk prepares and issue checks giving only the most brief review of the invoice before mailing. Well, the truth is that insurance companies handle personal injury claims including automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims about the same way.

My experience has shown that the individual originally assigned to your case will not likely be the adjuster, who will ultimately be responsible for settling your claim. Often they assign a claim to an adjuster or clerk with little experience. In that last few years I have noticed a change with some personal injury insurance carriers and they assign your claim to a “team.” Unfortunately often the “team” has little experience. In any event, the first step in opening a personal injury claim requires the setting of an initial reserve. This requires assigning a value based upon the apparent seriousness of the loss, such as broken bones versus soft tissue only. Unless injuries are serious and self evident, initial claim evaluations made by the insurance company will be unrealistically low, which can lead to a problem settling your case down the road. We try to give the insurance company as much information known to us at the time of the incident but often the extent of personal injuries and other losses are unknown.

The days when these types of personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims. ln would be initially reviewed by a claims supervisor no longer exists. Years ago it would be usual for a claims supervisor to review a claim and designate an adjuster with the experience and ability to handle the claim to its conclusion efficiently.

TheBus_New_Flyer_D60LF_(080)_on_Kalakaua_Avenue_(Accident)_2011-05-14

Auttomobile Accidents Between Bues and Cars Are Common and Often Cause Personal Injuries to Drivers and Passengers*

Today with computer programs such Colossus and team approaches I have found that are still “levels of claims” adjuster. An assignment of claim should be based upon the complexity of the claim and seriousness of the injuries, however, often they base claim assignment exclusively on the expected value of the claim, i.e., the reserve the insurance company has set on the claim. By way of example, perceived small claims involving $5,000 or less may all be assigned to a very inexperienced claims handler, and we will call him Bill. But claims that say fall into the $5, 000 to $20,000 range may be assigned to a more experience claims adjuster. claims would be designated to James and more senior claims handler Susan would take the $20,000 to $75,000 claims and a supervisor would take all the claims anticipated to exceed $75,000 in settlement value. These “assignments” are done at the time the claim is initially submitted.

So what happens when your more than $20,000 claim gets assigned to “wrong level?”The fact that they have assigned your claim to an adjuster without sufficient authority does not mean that the adjustor is incompetent or that her supervisor does not respect her/his opinions. Therefore, attorneys need to work with the adjuster to enable them to evaluate your claim properly. Frequently cases / claims get reassigned to a different adjuster. The “new” adjuster now has to get up to speed on your claim.

Keep in mind that many adjusters have caseloads of more than a 125 files often higher, much higher. In order to settle a case, the adjuster needs “documentation.” This includes medical documentation for injuries, documentation for medical expenses, documentation for loss of income. Depending upon whom you have seen for medical care obtaining medical reports and medical records can be very difficult to get because the doctor’s office does not cooperate. I have had cases in which we wait months and months to get such documentation. The same is true for loss of income or for self-employed individuals who cannot provide documentation regarding loss of income. The insurance companies will not accept and pay claims that are not properly documented. All of this takes time. Sometimes clients are unhappy with the delays.

My experience has shown in personal injury cases, involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents, it is common for insurance adjusters to begin negotiations by making a very low first offer. Sometimes, the adjuster will deny all liability for the claim. These negotiation tactics often work because some personal injury attorneys out there accept the first or second lowball offer. Because we must tell clients of all offers, an impatient attorney or client to get, some money will take any amount, I think this is a mistake.

I have had personal injury claims in my office for more than a year but over weeks and months the offers increase often dramatically. I recently settled a personal injury automobile accident claim for $27,500.00, and the original offer on the case was $7,000.00. This case took almost 18 months to settle and the client was very anxious to have his case settled. This case has been through three different adjusters. At one point the client was willing to accept a far lower offer to “get it over.” I told him that it was not a good idea and please follow my advice. He did and we settled his case fairly.

However, as a claimant you need to keep in mind that as a lawyer we need to work with the adjusters to settle a claim.  Some of your reading this may believe that “if only my case got in front of jury” they would award me a lot of money. YOU ARE WRONG. On some cases, particularly smaller “fender bender” cases, resorting to litigation / filing a lawsuit is often losing proposition FOR YOU.

The fact is that personal injury claims such as involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents (Tort cases, as they are called) have been on the decline for decades. According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), tort cases declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 and are still on the decline. The belief that juries or judges award large amounts is wrong. The fact is that most lawsuits result in comparatively small verdicts.

Lawsuits are very expensive. No law firm can afford to accept weak or frivolous cases. In California I have found that jurors are usually fairly smart, not easily fooled and are not very sympathetic with soft tissue personal injury claims. It takes the average lawyer and law firm between 100-500 hours of time and thousands of dollars in court costs to prepare for a trial. The entire process often takes between 2 and 5 years – even a simple fender-bender case. The expense for even a simple jury trial begins at around $15,000.00. Unless your case is in limited jurisdiction you need live expert testimony concerning medical care, treatment and charges. If you have seen several physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers, most or all need to be called at the time of trial. Expert fees even for treating physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers can run into thousands of dollars.

Current studies show that personal injury claims involving back and neck strains in California have a median verdict of $10,885 ! ! ! So a jury trial can cost more than you are likely to recover. Now some of you may be thinking that does not happen often, YES IT DOES. Here are some examples:

2012 Corbin v. Pascarella $10,400 Verdict. The defendant hits plaintiffs’ vehicle in an intersection. Plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter claimed lower back, necks, and shoulder pain because of the collision. Plaintiff (mother) settles her claim before trial. A Los Angeles County jury awards $10,400 to the daughter

2012 Messina v. Bayne $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped with traffic when his vehicle is hit from behind. Initially plaintiff only took one day off and returned to his work at a supermarket. Shortly after the incident he sees a chiropractor for four visits. Plaintiff claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale. He changes chiropractors and gets additional treatment and he later takes an additional 11 days off of work. He receives physical therapy for about 8 months from February 2010 to November 2010. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company contests the need for the “second” chiropractor visits and treatments. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company denies that the plaintiff’s claim for lost wages beyond the first day were unreasonable. The jury award likely shows what the jury thought of the claim. .

2013 – Reveles v. O’Neal $5,000 Verdict. Defendant driver crossed double yellow line and collided into oncoming car. The plaintiff suffered injuries. Plaintiff had medical bills of about $70,000, but the medical expenses were not allowed to go to the jury because a medical expert was not called. The injuries appeared to be mainly soft tissue. A San Diego County jury awarded $5,000, which is paid by defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.

THE TAKE AWAY?

Be patient, and patience is a truly a virtue in settlement negotiations. Although you may “need” the money now, it is rarely to your advantage to “hurry through the process.” Allow your attorney to their job. Most attorney’s will give you good advice on these types of claims.

Believe me, claims adjusters are pretty good at sensing anxiety. If your attorney shows anxiousness, the adjuster will likely change her/his focus away from the settlement, and on the sense of desperation. The adjuster will likely then base further settlement discussions on that sense of anxiety, rather than the facts of the claim.

Does the adjuster have to treat you / your claim fairly? The simple answer is no. Under California law on third party claims, law does not bind the adjuster to treat you fairly. California does not recognize third party bad faith claims.

My advice is simple, stay calm. If you have trust and faith in your attorney allow him or her to do their job. If you do not have confidence in your attorney, well that is another story for another day.

In the event you have suffered or a loved one has suffered a personal injury from any type of incident (automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents) you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Richard M. Katz, Esq.,  is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. We handle personal injury claims we specialize in accident, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.

I am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. My office is located at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, California, 91106

*The Bus New Flyer Accident, public domain, by Daniel Ramirez

 

What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice Mediation

What You Need to Know About Medical Malpractice Mediation

You have been hurt or injured because of the medical negligence of a doctor, nurse, hospital or a health maintenance organization such as: Aetna Health of California, Inc., CIGNA HMO Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare of California and Western Health Advantage.

Image: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

How are these medical malpractice cases resolved?
Sue the bastards!!! and Go To Trial!! NOT SO FAST

About 65% of all medical malpractice claims are dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn before trial or arbitration. There are a many reasons cases are dropped, dismissed, or withdrawn. Only about 10 % of all the medical malpractice case are resolved through trial or arbitration. However, the results for the victim / plaintiff is not encouraging, the physician or other healthcare provider wins in about 80% – 90% of the time.

 

Put it another way the victim/patient only wins 10% to 20% of the time. 80% -90% of the time the patient losses and often times faces an enormous cost bill from the defense, in cases that go to trial. Of all medical malpractice cases, roughly 25% of these claims are fairly settled during the pendency of the claim. According to a survey done by the American Medical Association in 2010, covering the years 2007-2008.

It has been my experience in medical malpractice cases that mediation is often helpful in resolving medical malpractice claims. Using mediation to resolve medical malpractice lawsuits clearly reduces cost, compensates a patient / victim for injury and often times will encourage changes in procedures at healthcare facilities to prevent recurrences of the mistake / negligence that led to the lawsuit.

Too often, however that avenue (mediation) for resolution goes unrealized. According to a study published in the Journal of Health, Politics, Policy and Law “Change will require medical leaders, hospital administrators, and malpractice insurers to temper their suspicion of the tort system sufficiently to approach medical errors and adverse events as learning opportunities, and to retain lawyers who embrace mediation as an opportunity to solve problems, show compassion, and improve care.”

Based upon my experience, anecdotal events, and some research about 70% to 80% of medical malpractice claims that went to mediation settled either during or following mediation for reasonable sums.

The MICRA Problem

California patients / victims face some unique problems. In 1975 the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) of 1975 was a statute enacted by the California Legislature in September 1975 and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. The Supreme Court of California and the California Courts of Appeal have upheld most of MICRA. MICRA is the law in California.

MICRA places a cap on damages. Non-economic damages are limited to $250,000. Non-economic damages include claims for pain and suffering, loss of consortium and wrongful death. MICRA has no provisions to adjust the cap for inflation, so it has remained at $250,000 since California enacted it in 1975. Attorneys’ fees are capped and the fee decreases as the amount recovered increases. Recovered “means the net sum recovered after deducting any disbursements or costs incurred in connection with prosecution or settlement of the claim. While economic damages are not capped, depending upon the age of the patient / victim past and future economic damages (loss of income/future loss of income) is difficult or impossible to prove. Likewise past medical expenses paid for by an insurance company (not an ERISA plan) while technically recoverable as a practical matter is not recoverable. Also large awards are subject to periodic payments, and it allows doctors to pay the award over time in certain circumstances. These various matters are covered in various sections to the California Codes. The codes include; Business & Professions Code Section 6146, Civil Code Sections 3333.1 and 3333.2, and Code of Civil Procedure Section 667.7.

I think you can see what challenges are presented. The wisdom of mediating medical malpractice cases is clear because:
The parties (plaintiff, defendant, insurance company and attorneys) control the outcome of the process.
Plaintiffs usually receive compensation relatively soon after their injury instead of waiting years to proceed with trial or arbitration.
Defendants (insurance carriers) do not have to pay for ongoing litigation, which can be considerable.
Even if mediation doesn’t resolve the case, it may create enough momentum to lead to a settlement.

So What is a Mediation?

Mediation is a method for settling disputes (medical malpractice claims) in which an experienced independent mediator helps the parties in achieving a mutually satisfactory settlement. A mediation will normally be attended only by the parties, their attorneys, the claims manager for the defendant’s insurance company and the mediator. Usually effective mediation can be completed in a day or less.

The mediation process is non-binding and entirely voluntary. The mediator does not have the power to “make a ruling” or “force a settlement.” The mediator’s role is to help the parties in their negotiations by identifying obstacles to settlement and developing strategies for overcoming them. A mediation session under California is completely private and confidential.

A mediation today typically begins with each “side” in separate rooms. The plaintiff / victim and her / his attorney in one room and the defendant, his / her attorney and often insurance company representatives in another room. The mediator usually first explains the format and discusses the confidential and non-binding nature of the proceedings with the plaintiff’s group. The mediator may ask the plaintiff’s attorneys what the case is about and ask about what issues are in dispute. Our office always prepares a very comprehensive brief about the case, including illustrations, citations and other evidence when necessary. Often our briefs are 20 to 30 pages, and we generally file them 10 days or longer before mediation. We also supply multiple copies to the defendants. Our office considers the mediation process as a very crucial step in assisting our clients to resolve claims fairly.

The mediator will then begin meeting with the parties in a series of private, confidential meetings. In these confidential meetings the mediator works with each party to scrutinize their respective positions and explore options for settlement. Normally, the mediator will do “shuttle diplomacy” with both sides for hours. Occasionally the parties will do a joint session, particularly in cases where the mediator believes it will be helpful. The shuttle diplomacy will continue either until the case settles or it becomes apparent that settlement cannot be reached. Even if case does not settle that does not mean it will not settle following the mediation. Often time mediators will continue to work with the parties to settle the case following the mediation.

According to the American Arbitration Association over 85% of all mediations result in a settlement. This is true even where all past attempts at settlement have failed. It is true even in case where the parties are pessimistic about the prospects of settlement.

The bottom line is that mediation is an effective tool. It brings all necessary parties to the bargaining table. Remember in private mediation both parties are their to try and resolve the claim. Mediation works because the mediator can help each side to “realistically” evaluate their positions and safely explore settlement options.

So if you have a medical malpractice case or a personal injury case and the opportunity for mediation presents itself it is an avenue that you may wish to explore. The resolution / settlement of your claim is in your hands. Remember though in serious injury cases it is always best to have an experience personal injury attorney on your side. As an experienced Pasadena personal injury / medical malpractice attorney, I have participated in hundreds of mediations. Should you have any questions, please call me at 626-796-6333 there is no charge for a consultation or you can contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com. Remember the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has been helping folks like you for more than 35 years.

HOW INSURANCE COMPANIES SETTLE BODILY INJURY CLAIMS CAUSED BY CAR ACCIDENTS

What you need to know about how insurance companies settle bodily injury claims caused by car accidents.

Did you know that many automobile insurance companies use “personal injury” software programs to “evaluate” your claim ?

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Basically, the program requires the adjuster to provide data into the software program and the program spits out a “settlement range.” The adjuster than purportedly after evaluating your claim makes a “fair offer.”

The program relies mainly on the contents of your medical records. “Severity points” are assigned for your injuries, it also considers the history of your lawyer involved (if any), the location of your accident, i.e., state, city etc . . . is also taken into consideration and some other factors (liability, comparative negligence) and then a settlement range is “calculated.”

Different insurance companies give different weight to the “calculation.” Some insurance companies follow it closely and direct their adjusters to follow the “calculation.” Other insurance companies use it as a guide to assist the adjuster who makes the ultimate call on what to offer.

There is more than one “personal injury” software program which is believed to be used by most of the top auto insurance companies to “calculate” the settlement value of minor to moderate car accident injury claims. Insurance companies believed to use such software programs include Aetna, Allstate, CNA, Erie, Farmers, Metropolitan, Ohio Casualty, The Hartford, MetLife, Travelers, USAA and Zurich. (Many other insurance companies use other form of injury valuation software.)

Neither the insurance companies that use these software evaluation programs nor the designers of such software will reveal their criteria / algorithm. Not much precise information about the software is available.

Some general information has been disclosed through security leaks, mainly through former adjusters. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune a former Allstate Insurance Company claims manager offered insight into computerized auto injury payouts. The Chicago Tribune reports that a former Allstate Insurance Company claims manager Mark Romano stated the computerized auto injury system can be manipulated. Mr. Ramo criticized the injury settlement software that he worked on while at Allstate Insurance Company.

Basically the software program considers various factors, assuming they enter the data correctly. First is the type of injury. Higher values are given to objective, easy-to-verify car accident injuries such as broken bones and herniated discs. Soft tissue injuries (aches, sprains and strains) are given lower values. Some medical findings can increase the evaluation of a claim.

In software programs keyword injuries such as:

anxiety
depression
dizziness
headaches
muscle spasms
nausea
neurosis
radiating pain
restriction of movement
vision impairment

The use of these key words can increase the “evaluation” of a claim. It is important these symptoms are documented and included in your medical report.

Apparently the software programs essentially ignore whatever you say, i.e., initial questionnaire that you fill out for your doctor. The software will recognize your medical records and their content as authoritative.

The software scoring systems generally give higher evaluation if you were taken from the scene to the hospital and whether you were hospitalized. As well, the type of treatment is important. The software programs will generally only recognizes certain diagnoses from chiropractors, such as sprains and strains of the neck and back. Other chiropractic diagnosis are ignored. Often the software will ignore or devalue more than 20 or 25 chiropractic visits. Physical therapy is considered but must be accurately documented. The software ascribes a value to physical therapy. Generally accepts 90 days of physical therapy is considered “up to three months of treatment,” while 91 days of treatment is considered “three to six months of treatment,” the latter is often given a higher value by the software.

Delays and gaps in treatment unless explained and documented in your medical records can cause a serious devaluation of your claim by the software. If a delay or gap in treatment occurs it must be addressed in your medical records.

The software also considers medications that you were on and for how long and whether you have suffered any permanent impairment per guidelines set forth in the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.

I hope the above gives you an understanding of what hurdles we face in handling a personal injury claim caused by a car accident. You need to know about the evaluation software because most insurance companies are using it. That is why it can often take months or years to settle a personal injury claim fairly. The adjustor is often given “marching orders” by his/her superior and the computer. Offers will start unrealistically low and over time weeks, months, years will increase. Patience is the key word.

These software programs do not know you. The software program is not given many of the specifics of your claim. Of course a software program cannot feel the pain you suffered and cannot understand the harm and losses you have.

In the event the car accident caused you or someone you love personal injuries or worse, you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Do not be afraid to contact a personal injury attorney for advice. I, Richard M. Katz, Esq., am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/

Personal Injury : Jury Awards $21 Million For Injuries Suffered by Family in Car Accident

People suffer severe personal injuries in traffic accidents and car accidents every day. Here is an example of one recent car accident case that was tried before a jury.

In June of this year (2015) a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $21 Million to three family members after a 2011 DUI car crash caused them serious injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The incident occurred when a drunk driver of a Ford Explorer crossed a double yellow line and struck the family’s Ford Taurus head-on. Head-on collision can be the most serious. The injured suffered severe fractures and lacerations.

The family was on a trip Palmdale to Los Angeles to take their son to college. The drunk driver apparently lost control of his vehicle, crossed over into opposing traffic and slammed the family’s vehicle head on. Paramedics rushed all three family members to Antelope Valley Hospital from the scene of the crash, where they received emergency medical care.

The trial lasted 13 days. During the trial treating physicians, family members, friends of the family, and expert witnesses were called to testify on behalf of the injured. The evidence showed that each victim had suffered loss of income / damage to earning capacity, incurred substantial medical expenses and would suffer significant pain and suffering. The jury deliberated for two days, before arriving at their verdict.

While such verdicts, $21 million are not common, this jury verdict shows what a jury may do in a serious personal injury case. The fact that the defendant was intoxicated possibly had an influence on the juries deliberations.

Most car accidents do not cause such serious injuries as this family suffered. Nevertheless, even in a less significant traffic accident consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is usually a good idea. Experience personal injury attorneys will have experience working with insurance providers to get the highest possible settlement amounts for clients. If you have been injured or you have lost any type of personal or business property due to an accident, don’t wait to get the help you need and deserve.

If you or a loved one suffers a personal injury arising from a car accident  / traffic accident, please feel free to contact me. Richard M. Katz at The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz, Pasadena, California. 626-796-63333. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and will differ from state to state because of different laws. For specific technical or legal advice on your situation you should, without delay contact an attorney of your choice.

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