Archives for September 2011

Uninsured Lexus Driver Strikes and Injures San Francisco Bicyclist

A recent auto – bicycle accident in San Francisco illustrates a number of the legal and practical problems that can follow in the aftermath of the crash. As reported last month in the San Francisco Examiner, a 45-year-old bicyclist ran a red light on Sixth Street and was struck by a Lexus traveling on Mission Street. The bicyclist was hospitalized with an undisclosed injury.

Bicyclist Ran Red Light, Suspended Driver Uninsured: Who Wins?

Because a San Francisco police sergeant witnessed the accident in its entirety, both the bicyclist and the Lexus driver will need to consider the police eyewitness version of the accident as the operative story unless other credible witnesses can be found to contest any of the main details. Because the bicyclist ran the light, at least as far as the police witness saw it, the driver could develop a strong comparative negligence defense. In other words, if the accident was held primarily to be the bicyclist’s fault, his claim for damages could be seriously weakened.

On the other hand, the driver might have had a clear opportunity to avoid the accident, even though the bike rider did not belong in the intersection. If forensic analysis of the accident scene turns up no evidence of braking or evasive maneuvering by the driver prior to impact, he might still be found liable for negligence.

An important complication that will very likely come up in any litigation of the accident concerns the driver’s suspended license and lack of insurance. He also had false registration information on his license plate. Although the bicyclist can try to collect any damages he can prove from the driver directly, there will be no liability insurance available to cover his claims.

Experienced personal injury lawyers know better than to give up under these facts. The bicyclist’s injuries might very well be covered under his own auto policy’s uninsured motorist provisions, and his own health insurance or even home-owner’s insurance might also cover certain expenses, lost income or other losses.

Call 866-288-6010 in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or San Rafael

At the Bay Area law firm of Weber & Nierenberg, our attorneys have focused on bicycle accident claims for many years, and we know how to find sources of compensation even in cases where an uninsured driver was responsible for the bike rider’s injuries. We also know how to meet and overcome comparative negligence defenses under a wide variety of circumstances.

Contact us for a free consultation at any of our four office locations if you need advice about your rights following a serious bicycle accident. To learn more about our practice, visit our website.

Truck and Commercial Vehicle Accident Claims

San Francisco | San Jose | Oakland | San Rafael, CA

The personal injury lawyers of Weber & Nierenberg represent motorcyclists and bicycle riders who have suffered serious injuries when struck by a truck or other commercial vehicle in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our understanding of the important differences between accident litigation involving commercial insurance and those cases involving private auto policies can make a significant difference in the outcome of a severe injury case.

In bike collisions with private passenger vehicles, the policy limits of the driver that hit you represent an important factor in the case’s resolution. In catastrophic injury accidents, an auto driver’s liability coverage limits of $50,000, $100,000 or even $200,000 will come nowhere close to what you need to cover a permanent disability, years of lost income or complex medical and rehabilitative treatment.

As a result, our attorneys can often reasonably expect to settle these cases at the policy limits once we establish the other driver’s liability and the extent of the accident victim’s injuries. We then pursue any and all other potential defendants to maximize the value of your overall financial recovery.

Commercial Vehicle Accidents Mean Commercial Insurance Coverage

When the driver who hit you is covered under a commercial vehicle or fleet liability policy, however, it is unrealistic to expect a prompt settlement at the policy limits. Coverage typically begins at $1 million per accident, with much larger policy limits common. What this means for the injured motorcyclist in practical terms is that the victim needs to prove every element of his or her loss in detail, often with expert support.

Unlike a severe injury case that would likely settle at low liability coverage limits, the claims adjusters and defense lawyers in a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle case have every incentive to demand strict proof of injury claims.

If you need $700,000, they will try to settle for $400,000. If you need $1.6 million, they will attack the evidence supporting the damages demand in an attempt to settle the case for $800,000. Truck accident litigation often develops into a contest between opposing teams of experts, with each side presenting a thoroughly reasoned analysis of its position.

Call a San Francisco Motorcycle Accident Attorney: 866-288-6010

Weber & Nierenberg has the experience and sophisticated approach to complex accident litigation necessary to give an injured motorcycle or bicycle rider a strong chance of recovering fair compensation for severe or disabling injuries. Our familiarity with the legal strategies used by commercial vehicle insurance defense lawyers represents an important advantage for our clients. Contact us at any of our four Bay Area locations to learn more about our experience with northern California truck and commercial vehicle litigation.

With offices in San Francisco, San Rafael, Oakland and San Jose, our attorneys represent clients throughout the East Bay, North Bay, South Bay and other northern California communities, including Sacramento, Napa, Santa Rosa, Berkeley, Richmond, Fremont, Hayward, Modesto, Stockton, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Walnut Creek.

BART Pays $1.3 Million to Settle Fruitvale Station Shooting Claim

The mother of Oscar Grant III, the young man fatally shot in Oakland by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day 2009, has settled her wrongful death lawsuit against BART for $1.3 million, as reported by the San Francisco Examiner.

The settlement resolves the second of two civil lawsuits filed in connection with the shooting death. BART previously paid $1.5 million to settle a wrongful death action brought on behalf of the victim’s daughter, who was five years old at the time of the shooting.

Johannes Mehserle, the BART police officer who shot Grant while the victim lay face down on the Fruitvale Station platform, was released after serving 11 months of a two-year involuntary manslaughter sentence. He maintained that he thought he was firing a Taser instead of a gun.

Liability and Damages Claims against California Transit Agencies

Proof of personal injury or wrongful death claims against a public transportation agency require an aggressive approach to the investigation of the facts and careful attention to detail in the development of the damages side of the case. The advice and advocacy of experienced attorneys can help protect the value of the plaintiff’s claims whether based on negligence, intentional torts or a combination of liability theories.

With four offices around the Bay Area, the lawyers of Weber & Nierenberg are familiar with the demands of civil litigation against the various local and regional transit authorities operating throughout the region. In one case against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MUNI), our law firm recovered $855,000 for a bus passenger who was forcibly removed from the bus by a driver with a history of violent confrontations with passengers.

Call 866-288-6010 for a Free Consultation in the Bay Area

To find out more about the ways our attorneys can protect your rights in cases involving injuries resulting from negligent or intentional misconduct on the part of public transportation agencies and their employees, contact Weber & Nierenberg in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or San Rafael. To learn more about the range of our law firm’s practice, see our website.

Overcoming Jury Bias in Motorcycle Accident Cases

San Francisco | San Jose | Oakland | San Rafael, CA

The experienced trial lawyers at the law firm of Weber & Nierenberg understand how each side tries to use the prospect of presenting its case before a jury to its advantage in the pretrial and settlement negotiation stages of a civil action.

We understand the value of preparing each case as if it will go to trial. That way, we convince insurance defense lawyers of our willingness and ability to present a close case to a jury. Similarly, the defense will often try to scare the plaintiff into a low settlement on the grounds that “no jury in _____ County will ever award a client like yours that kind of money.”

Insurers Use the Threat of Jury Bias to Settle Cases Cheaply

Scare tactics based on jury bias are especially common in motorcycle accident cases. Defense attorneys are not above playing up the stereotypes of bikers as risk-taking renegades for whom the dangers of motorcycle travel are a large part of the appeal, no matter how far removed from reality that image might be in a given case.

Our experience with cases involving serious motorcycle injuries suffered by bikers of all shapes and sizes allows us to state categorically: no motorcycle accident victim ever needs to fear jury bias based solely on the fact of having been injured while riding. No matter how you dress, how long you’ve been riding or how many tattoos you have, you’re entitled to the same fair treatment before a jury as anybody else, and we know how to help you get the most out of your day in court.

Our strategies in juror selection, jury instructions and objections during testimony are generally more than sufficient to overcome the risk that a particular jury might be prejudiced against a biker for reasons ranging from “she wasn’t wearing a helmet” to “he’s a member of a gang.” We find that keeping the jury focused on the evidence, especially on the accident’s impact on our client’s ability to live life as normal, is enough to accomplish a just result.

What Jury Bias? 4X Settlement Offer Awarded to Dykes on Bikes Member

One of our past cases illustrates very well our ability to protect our clients’ right to a fair trial while overcoming a very conscious jury-bias settlement strategy on the part of an insurer. Our client was a member of Dykes on Bikes, the San Francisco lesbian motorcycle club. She suffered a knee injury when a double-parked vehicle suddenly pulled into her path without signaling. We rejected a very low settlement offer that was based on the insurance company’s belief that the jury would hold her sexual orientation against her. Instead, the jury awarded our client a verdict four times the amount of the offer.

Find out more about the ways experienced trial lawyers can overcome jury bias and its use in settlement negotiations in northern California motorcycle accident litigation. Contact Weber & Nierenberg for a free consultation at any of our four Bay Area locations.

With offices in San Francisco, San Rafael, Oakland and San Jose, our attorneys represent motorcycle accident clients throughout the East Bay, North Bay, South Bay and other northern California communities, including Sacramento, Napa, Santa Rosa, Berkeley, Richmond, Fremont, Hayward, Modesto, Stockton, San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Walnut Creek.

 
 
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1 Sansome Street, Suite 3500 San Francisco, CA 94104
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P. 415-788-3900

1999 Harrison Street, Suite 600 Oakland, CA 94612
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P. 510-663-6000

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