USAA Offered $100,000… Jury Awarded $2,962,903
Glenn Guenard of Guenard & Bozarth llp obtained a $2,962,903 jury verdict in the Sacramento County Superior Court for plaintiff David Schoonover, who suffered head and neck injuries and fractures in a head-on accident on Roseville Road in Roseville on July 22, 2012. According to court documents Schoonover’s vehicle was on Roseville Road when another vehicle driven by a 17 year old driver crossed the center line and hit him head-on.
The Sacramento County jury heard the case over seven days and returned a verdict in Schoonover’s favor. The jury awarded Schoonover $2,962,903 for damages including medical expenses, treatment costs and pain and suffering. Glenn Guenard, Senior Attorney with Guenard & Bozarth llp personal injury law firm, said Schoonover was transported by ambulance to Sutter Roseville emergency room for treatment immediately after the crash and underwent open surgical reduction on both knee and heel fractures. In addition, he was forced to take six months off from work and was eventually released to a sedentary work. Schoonover’s movement was limited due to the use of crutches for 1.5 years and he returned to work full time in January 2015.
Attorney Guenard said the case was a challenging one because USAA Insurance Company refused to settle. The final offer from USAA was $100,000, which is when we decided to take the case to trial, Guenard said. "USAA is notorious for not paying fair value on these types of cases. They act in this manner because they are a big insurance company with seasoned and excellent defense attorneys. They know that of the thousands of cases that are filed, very few will go to trial. They have no problem taking that risk."
“It takes a personal injury law firm with seasoned attorneys and the willingness, resources and conviction to go after insurance companies, remain persistent and win these types of cases”, Guenard said. "The jury was very attentive and fair. The jury found our client to be reliable and likeable. In the end, justice was served."
“BEWARE! MODERN DAY SCALPING AT THE SALON”
Guenard & Bozarth LLP recently settled a case for $300,000 involving a hair weave that went terribly wrong. Our client was a young lady, and aspiring model, who experienced pressure necrosis from a tight weave and it changed her life. She was left with a permanent bald spot the size of a playing card on the top of her head.
Hair weaves and exotic hair braiding have become more popular in recent years and shops are opening up to meet the demand. Few know this is a completely unregulated industry. The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology does not test or regulate braiding and weaving. No license is required to perform these services and the technique is not taught in cosmetology school. The trade is learned from friends, family and on the job—from others who learned it from their friends, family or on the job. What this creates is an inconsistent and blurry standard of care because the methods vary from region to region and household to household. These conflicting methodologies are then put to practice in neighborhood salons.
One major issue we had to overcome in the case, which is always present in purported independent contractor versus employee disputes, was course and scope of the individual stylist. The stylist had signed a “Hair Salon Booth Rental Agreement” that illuminated her understanding that she would operate as an independent contractor. Nonetheless, we were able to use the facts and the agreement language to overcome the independent contractor presumption and have the salon owner’s insurance pick-up the claim.
When done correctly, these hairstyles cause no damage to the hair or scalp. When done incorrectly, permanent hair loss and scaring can occur. There is a misconception in the industry that, to be done correctly, the braiding and weaving need to be extremely tight. Sayings such as, “the tighter the braid the better the weave,” or “if it ain’t tight it ain’t right,” are often the colloquial expressions amongst stylists installing the weaves. When faced with these industry philosophies, we knew that we were likely dealing with a case of first impression.
Based on the opinions from our client’s medical providers and our experts, when braids are done excessively tight, the gradual tension on the hair follicle causes pain and can stress the follicle beyond its biological tolerance—causing it to die. The result is permanent baldness. It is common to see women with what appears to be a receding hair line or thinning hair around the edges. This is called “traction alopecia” where “traction” is the tension caused by the braid and “alopecia” is the medical term for hair loss.
More serious injuries can also occur, but are less common. One example is pressure necrosis of the scalp. To install a weave, the stylists often use a braiding pattern called a beehive or spiral braid, that starts at the edge of the hair by the ear and continues in a spiral pattern ending at the crown of the head. If done too tightly, the braids act like a series of tourniquets on the scalp—which decrease the blood-flow. As the braids get closer to the crown of the head, the blood-flow can be reduced to the point where tissue begins to deteriorate. When this happens, the scalp starts to rot and the hair follicles die. What is left is a large open wound beneath the weave—often as big as eight to ten centimeters in diameter. This is similar to a bed sore and is often not painful at all. After the wound heals and scars, the unfortunate result is a large circle of permanent baldness—akin to modern day scalping.
Most people who install weaves or do braiding are completely unaware that this can occur. This ethos is bred from inconsistency in the industry and lack of licensing and regulations. The lack of regulation is surprising given the fact that conservative estimates value the African-American hair industry as a multi-billion dollar a year enterprise. Due to the embarrassing nature of this injury, it often goes unreported. Further, in recent years there have been some case studies in medical journals addressing this problem. As a result, it will not be surprising if we see more of these types of cases in the future.
BEWARE! BED BUGS CAN COME IN COUCHES
We recently settled a case where our client bought a couple of couches from an outlet furniture store and brought it home by use of her daughter’s car. She put all four pieces in her living room and approximately three days after the couches were put inside our client’s house, she began itching and had small bubbles, and then blisters and rashes on various areas of her body.
Shortly after experiencing the itching, she was watching her two year old grandchild, and put her on one of the newly purchased couches to sleep. When the child’s father, came to pick her up, the child woke up. Her dad, went over to rub her back and saw a bug. Our client who owned the home, tried to get it with her finger and there was blood. She and her son in law started looking on the couches she just bought. It was totally infested. There were hundreds of bed bugs and eggs in the seams of her couches.
She immediately contacted the store she bought the couches from and ultimately they agreed to fumigate her house and the small house of hers in the back as well as her daughter’s apartment and car. The couches were at her house for approximately 8 days although they were taken outside once the bed bugs were discovered. Many of the family members had bed bug bites and took the bed bugs back to their own homes. Female bed bugs can lay five eggs a day for a total of 500 in a lifetime. The eggs can hatch in one to two weeks.
The families threw out all of their bedding and mattresses and furniture and clothing and food. They all went to the doctor and received some ointment to relieve the itching. The client who originally bought the couches had over 100 bites on her body and suffered from bed bug psychosis. This can mean the person experiences anxiety, depression and a delusional disorder in which one imagines that bugs are crawling all over their skin.
The insurance company denied the claim and we filed a lawsuit. After several depositions and written discovery the defense requested Mediation. The challenges on this case were very small medical expenses and few residual problems other than small scars on the clients’ arms and legs. However, one of the clients did suffer from bed bug psychosis for a couple years. We were able to reach a fair settlement.
Bed bugs are very difficult to get rid of and can actually go without eating for up to a year. If you ever have the misfortune of getting bed bugs in your home get your home professionally fumigated by a company that guarantees the results.
We represent people who are injured because of the careless and reckless acts of others. At the end of the day your case can only be settled one time and you need to know all of the facts beforehand. The reason that insurance companies have paid our clients in excess of $130,000,000.00 is that we get the facts and are not intimidated at the prospect of going to trial when they refuse to follow the law. We help with serious issues that require serious representation. We are the Law Offices of Guenard & Bozarth. We have over 80 years of experience in our plaintiff's only law firm. Call GB Legal 24/7/365 at 888-809-1075 or visit www.gblegal.com We Can Help!
Experience, Not Television Commercials Matter When Hiring A Lawyer
Guenard & Bozarth LLP recently settled a slip and fall case for $500,000 a couple weeks before trial. The client slipped and fell on a wet piece of cardboard in a grocery store and sustained a serious shoulder injury that required surgery. The client also lost a couple years of wages. In this case, our client first contacted us about a month before the two-year statute of limitations. She previously hired a law firm that advertised a lot on the television in our local area. That law firm hardly ever communicated with the client.
The insurance company for the grocery store denied the injury claim on the basis that they were not negligent and the client should have been looking where she was going. Based on this form denial, and with only a month left to file a lawsuit, the television firm told the client they could no longer represent her and that it was a “business decision.” An experienced practitioner would know they were telling her the case was not an easy one to settle and they were not willing to file a lawsuit. The reality is they were not fit, able, or prepared to spend the time, effort, and money necessary to get the client fully compensated.
Glenn Guenard, the senior partner at Guenard & Bozarth, LLP, has litigated more than a hundred slip and fall cases during his 31 years of representing injured victims. He was more than happy to take on the case for the client because he knows that slip and fall claims are often initially denied by insurance companies. Glenn was very aggressive in obtaining information from the defendant grocery store. He sent hundreds of written questions, document requests, and took several depositions of employees, management, as well as the owner of the grocery store.
He discovered was that the cardboard was wet because a produce misting machine had been leaking water on the floor for several weeks. He also uncovered that the grocery store did not even follow its own procedures to prevent this type of accident from happening. By way of vigorous discovery and investigation, Glenn even got the defendants to admit they were negligent. Two weeks before trial, the case ultimately settled for $500,000 at private mediation—which included $70,000 for medical bills, $60,000 for wage loss, and $370,000 for pain and suffering.
You get a better settlement if your lawyer is willing to go to trial and has a reputation for doing just that. Insurance companies know the lawyers who only settle cases and those who are eager to take cases to trial. Lawyers with a reputation for only settling cases either get their claims denied or receive nominal offers. Lawyers with a reputation of taking cases to trial receive much higher settlement offers. Glenn Guenard has a reputation for taking cases to trial and for large verdicts.
The moral of the story is do not hire a lawyer just because they are on television. Instead, hire an experienced lawyer who has a reputation for doing what is necessary to make sure you are fully compensated for your damages.
Negligence Leads To $332,000 Verdict
Maricela Sotelo was driving in Santa Barbara on February 12, 2013 when she was rear ended by Brooke Holland. Sotelo alleged that Holland was negligent in the operation of her vehicle and Holland admitted negligence. Holland’s Insurance Company was Farmers and they refused to offer anything so our Senior Partner took the case to trial in Santa Barbara.
On February 13, 2013 Maricela, a Certified Nursing Assistant presented to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room with complaint of neck and back pain. She was diagnosed with a neck strain and was given Ibuprofen and instructed to return if her symptoms did not subside. On March 24, 2013 she was referred to an Orthopedic Surgeon who referred her to Physical Therapy. After 4 months of Therapy she was referred for a lumbar MRI which revealed spinal stenosis. This resulted in a microdiscectomy surgical procedure and 10 months off work.
Farmers insurance contended that since the accident caused less than $1,000 in property damage the minor rear end accident was not a substantial factor in causing her low back injury. Instead, defense counsel argued her injuries were caused by congenital issues which caused degenerative disc disease. The jury listened to both sides and with the guidance of Glenn Guenard saw past the insurance company’s smokescreen and found Brooke Holland’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing harm to our client Maricela.
These results show the value in retaining an attorney who will investigate your case, understands your injuries, has extensive experience and is unafraid of going to trial even when the other side offers nothing for your injuries.