Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP
Treating California’s Injured With Dignity And Respect
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Auto Cases

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are more than 35,000 vehicle fatalities in the U.S. annually.  The National Safety Council estimates that 19,800,00 drivers are involved in crashes each year.  Annually in California, approximately 200,000 auto accidents result in injury and 3,000 result in death.

At the San Francisco personal injury law office of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP our motor vehicle accident attorneys have a history of obtaining substantial, successful results for clients who suffered brain or other serious injuries and families whose loved one died in a fatal accident.  We have the experience, the skill, and the resources to effectively investigate and prove your claim.  Whether you or a loved one were suffered harm from another car as a driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian, or due to a dangerous condition in a roadway, we can conduct an immediate and thorough investigation to identify the party responsible for your injuries.

There are two things to establish in any motor vehicle accident case: the cause of the accident (fault of injuries) and the value of the injuries and losses.  Both must be developed from the start.

No injury case is a slam dunk.  You need strong legal representation.  Here are a few things to consider when selecting a lawyer.  At Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP, we have a track record of success handling auto accidents.  Insurance companies know our lawyers; they’ve seen us in courts in the Bay Area and throughout California.  Our reputation for results puts clients in the best position in negotiations.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about our San Francisco motor vehicle accident lawyers and how we can answer your questions and help your case.

For over 40 years, Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP has represented clients in cases involving automobile collisions, and have taken many to trial.  The following are examples of some of the auto cases ASW has handled:

Car Crash Accidents

Passenger v. Caltrans – $5,500,000

 Passenger in rollover accident suffered cervical fracture resulting in quadriplegia due to a dangerous condition on Highway 1 in Marin County. 

Our 23-year-old client was a passenger in a new Mazda Miata driven by his girlfriend from San Francisco to Stinson Beach, up State Route 1 toward the Point Reyes Lighthouse, in western Marin County.  She lost control of the Miata attempting to negotiate a curve just north of the Town of Olema and it left the roadway, went up an adjacent embankment, and rolled one and a half times.  It landed upside down back on the roadway.  Our client suffered fractures to his C4-6 vertebrae, rendering him an immediate C4-5 quadriplegic.  The driver who lost control subsequently admitted to the CHP that she was going “too fast” for the curve at 60-65 mph in a 55-mph zone.

Our firm brought a case against the State of California (Caltrans), which owns State Route 1, for a dangerous condition of public property (Government Code §835).  After extensive litigation, the case proceeded to trial in Marin County Superior Court in San Rafael.  At trial, we showed that the curve’s radius, length, and superelevation violated Caltrans’ standards, and that it was compound in nature (it had a diminishing radius), indicating that it was a 35-mph curve.  The evidence showed that there was no advance warning sign indicating that it was only a 35-mph curve, creating a trap for the unwary.

The State claimed that the only similar incident, which Involved a motorcycle in 1993, occurred seven years before this incident and more than 3 million vehicles safely negotiated the curve without incident between that prior incident and the subject incident.  Thus, the curve could not be dangerous to those using due care and the State had no notice of any condition that was dangerous.  It also claimed that the curve was readily apparent and clearly visible to approaching motorists, so no warning sign was necessary.  It further claimed that the single vehicle rollover was solely caused by the negligence of the driver.

The jury found in favor of our client on liability and before the separate deliberations on damages, Caltrans settled for $5,500,000 after trial.

Cheerleader v. High School – $17,500,000

 High school cheerleader suffered a severe TBI when she fell from the bed of a pickup truck in a school-sponsored parade and struck her head against the roadway.

$17,500,000 for our 17-year-old client, a high school cheerleader, who fell from the bed of a jacked-up pickup truck in a 4th of July parade and struck her head against the roadway, causing a severe traumatic brain injury.  She had just finish practice with her Gustine High School cheerleading team when her coach instructed the squad to sit in the truck in formation to go to Gustine’s traditional 4th of July Parade.  Soon after he began driving the cheerleaders, the driver of the pickup truck, also age 17, aggressively accelerated around a turn to show off to the cheerleaders, causing several of them to fall out the back of the truck.  Our client sustained suboccipital and occipital skull fractures and a devastating traumatic brain injury.  The impact to the back of her head propelled her brain forward into the rough lining of her frontal skull, contusing the frontal and temporal lobes, resulting in bleeding – a coup-contre coup injury.  The extensive brain bleeding caused brain swelling and she was airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Oakland for a craniectomy to allow the decompression of the brain tissue.  Thereafter, she was transferred to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center for rehabilitation.  Her cognitive deficits and paraplegia require 24-hour care and therapeutic rehabilitation.

Driver & Passenger v. Drunk Driver – $2,980,944 verdict

Clients suffered serious injuries in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. 

Our husband-and-wife clients sustained serious personal injuries in a head-on auto collision on Highway 1 in Bodega Bay, Santa Rosa County.  Defendant Matthew Ray Engert was driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision, which impaired his ability to safely operate his vehicle.  Mr. Engert, who worked as the general manager at Lucas Wharf Restaurant and Bar, drove his vehicle across a double-yellow centerline in the roadway and caused the collision.  Our firm obtained a jury verdict in Sonoma County Superior Court in the amount of $2,980,944.

Driver v. Driver – $2,320,375 after verdict

Driver suffered a TBI in a disputed intersection collision in San Rafael.

$2,320,375 recovered for our 71-year-old client who suffered a subdural hematoma and brain swelling that necessitated a craniotomy and resulted in a permanent brain injury in a disputed intersection collision when a Tesla X driven by Joshua Felser collided with our client’s Jaguar at the intersection of Peter Behr Drive and Civic Center Drive near the Marin Civic Center in San Rafael.

Family v. Caltrans – $10,000,000

Two family members suffered serious impalement injuries when the father fell asleep at the wheel, veered off the freeway and struck the end of a guardrail which had been installed backwards by Caltrans, creating a substantial hazard.

A father fell asleep at the wheel with his son in a child seat in the backseat of a van that veered off the freeway into the end of a guardrail. Caltrans installed a guardrail backwards, causing it to provide no protection and instead created a sharp spear that penetrated the front of their vehicle and through the driver’s compartment and into the rear seat.  The guardrail impaled both occupants, traumatically amputating the father’s leg and internal injuries to his son.  Caltrans settled the case for $10,000,000.

Passenger v. Construction Company – $2,550,000

$2,550,000 for passenger who suffered TBI and multiple spinal fractures in an auto collision caused by a construction company’s unauthorized closure of traffic lanes.

Our 34-year-old client suffered serious injuries, including a brain injury and multiple spinal fractures, in an auto collision caused by an unauthorized obstruction of freeway traffic by roadway contractor defendant Peterson-Chase General Engineering Construction, Inc. during a Caltrans maintenance project on the SB680-WB24 connector ramp in Walnut Creek.  Without Caltrans’ approval, Peterson-Chase closed off the wrong traffic lanes at the wrong time, which created a bottleneck and an abrupt traffic jam that forced a chain-reaction of emergency braking and the subject high-speed rear-end collision.  Defendant Peterson-Chase negligently obstructed the flow of freeway traffic when it improperly closed a majority of the lanes on the busy I-680 – State Route 24 connector ramp to perform roadway maintenance too early on the night of the incident, in violation of Caltrans’ permit.

Family v. Caltrans – $1,250,000

Wrongful death of driver who lost control due to patch of black ice in roadway resulting in fatal collision after Caltrans failed to de-ice roadway or warn of danger.       

$1,250,000 settlement against Caltrans in a wrongful death case arising out of a head-on collision that occurred on State Route 299 at Berry Summit, the highest peak in Humboldt County, which connects Eureka with Willow Creek.  The decedent’s vehicle lost traction with the roadway’s surface due to the presence of a patch of black ice, slid sideways into oncoming traffic and collided with an on-coming truck.  Despite the forecast for freezing temperatures, the Caltrans crew monitoring the roadway failed to use any deicing material or warn motorists of ice on the road.  During discovery, our firm learned that critical Caltrans employees were sleeping on the job.

Driver v. Taxicab Company Owners – $1,750,000 after jury verdict

Driver suffered TBI struck by a taxicab; cab company owners held liable for the jury verdict as alter egos.

Fermino Rodrigues, an unlicensed driver of a Yellow Cab AAA, a dba for Acme Yellow, LLC, rear-ended our client, an independent living 80-year-old, as she drove her Toyota Camry on The Embarcadero in San Francisco.  Our client’s head struck the steering wheel in the impact and suffered a subdural hematoma, requiring an emergency decompressive craniectomy at SF General Hospital.  After a lengthy hospital stay, our client never regained her independence.

Acme Yellow, LLC, operating as Yellow Cab AAA, did not have a license to pick up the passengers it carried at the time of the collision, did not carry insurance, and allowed an unlicensed driver to operate its vehicle.  Jeffrey Browning and Param Dhillon owned and operated the cab company, and never offered more than $100,000 to settle the case.

A San Francisco jury found in favor of our client and awarded her $1,373,865.52.  The court added $89,659.39 in costs and fees to the judgment.  The court also found that Messrs. Browning and Dhillon were alter egos of Acme Yellow, LLC for inadequately capitalizing their business, not following normal business formalities, diverting business funds to themselves, and not reporting cash income to the IRS.  The court stated in its ruling that the “case cries out for the alter ego doctrine” and that defendants used their company as “a shell to shield these individuals from liability.”  Browning and Dhillon appealed the judgment, which the Court of Appeal affirmed.  (https://casetext.com/case/busalacchi-v-browning.

After many years of fighting for our client, our firm eventually collected $1,850,000 from Messrs. Browning and Dhillon.

Driver v. Driver

Driver suffered a brain injury in an intersection collision on El Camino Real

Our client suffered a permanent brain injury in an intersection collision when a Ford Explorer collided with our client’s Toyota Echo, causing a major rollover collision at El Camino Real and Hillcrest Blvd. in Millbrae, San Mateo County.

Drivers v. Drunk Driver

Drunk driver crossed double yellow lines and struck our client head-on.

Our client sustained serious injuries in a head-on auto collision on Dry Creek Road near Mt. Veeder Road in Napa when Ortiz Quiroz drove too fast around a curve in the road, crossed over the double yellow lines and into oncoming traffic before colliding with the front of our client’s car.  Mr. Quiroz was intoxicated at the time of the collision.

Family v. Trucking Company – $1,500,000

While driving to school, a mother and her three kids suffered serious injuries in a head-on collision by a speeding truck.

Our clients, a mother and her three children, were commuting to school near Placerville in El Dorado County when a large tractor-trailer dump truck driver ignored a school zone speed limit of 25 miles per hour and entered an intersection adjacent to a school at a speed of greater than 60 miles per hour.  The truck collided with another car in the intersection, lost control, crossed into the oncoming lane and struck the plaintiffs’ car, crushed it and set it on fire.  The mother and her three children suffered multiple serious injuries, including a severe TBI, cervical fractures, and facial injuries with scaring.

Passenger v. U.S.A.

Passenger suffered a severe TBI when U.S Army howitzer went out of control while being towed on I-405 in Los Angeles

Our client was a backseat passenger in a car on I-405, a Los Angeles freeway, when a U.S. Army truck towing a large howitzer lost control and crashed into the back of our client’s car.  Traffic had suddenly stopped on the 405 and the Army truck attempted to stop but it was too small to tow such a large piece of artillery and jack-knifed and continued down the freeway before colliding with the rear of the car, causing a catastrophic brain damage that ultimately killed our client.

Driver v. Driver

Driver struck by stolen car suffers TBI and a tibial plateau fracture

Our 71-year-old client sustained serious personal injuries in a motor vehicle collision on Main Street in Oakley, Contra Costa County, when a speeding driver in a stolen car ran a red light and T-boned Ms. Page’s pickup truck, causing a brain injury and a tibial plateau fracture that caused a tilt in her pre-existing prosthetic knee and necessitated a revision of her total knee replacement.

Driver v. Drunk Driver

Drunk driver crossed double yellow center line and struck our client head-on, causing serious back injuries

Our client suffered serious back injuries in a head-on collision with a drunk driver on Hwy 29 in St. Helena, Napa County.  Cesar Jimenez crossed over a double yellow centerline and drove his Ford directly into the front of our client’s car. Mr. Jimenez died in the collision with a 0.32% BA level, four times the legal limit.  Mr. Jimenez worked at Merryvale Vineyard the day of this collision. For several hours immediately after work that day, he attended its employee-only Harvest Party at the winery to celebrate the end of the harvest and consumed a significant amount of alcohol before leaving his employer’s premises shortly before the incident. A witness driving directly behind Mr. Jimenez repeatedly honked her horn and flashed her headlights when she saw him drive erratically, appear to fall asleep several times, and slap himself in the face to prevent himself from passing out.  The witness called 9-1-1 to report the intoxicated driver but he suddenly veered into oncoming traffic before he could be stopped.

Driver v. Driver – $177,585 verdict

Driver suffered back injury when left turning vehicle struck her car

$177,585 recovered following a jury verdict in favor of a retired school teacher suffered a back injury in an auto collision on San Pedro Road in San Rafael, Marin County. Mary Prien attempted to make a left turn from San Pedro Road onto Peacock Drive and negligently collided with our client who was driving straight ahead in the opposite direction.

Our Client v. Big Insurance Company – $900,000

Passenger in classic car driven by husband crashed, causing serious facial injuries

 $900,000 settlement in a bad faith case against an insurance company that refused to defend a man who had an epileptic seizure while driving his Austin-Healy in a classic car event and crashed into a tree, causing his wife/passenger serious injuries.  Our client was the wife of the defendant who owned a vintage Austin Martin convertible and was a board member of a Austin Martin car club that held touring rallies. Our client accompanied her husband as a passenger at a rally in Carmel Valley, Monterey County, when her husband suddenly lost consciousness, veered off the road, and crashed into a tree. In the collision, our client sustained serious facial injuries when her face and head struck the windshield because the vintage car was equipped with only a lap seat belt. Plaintiff contended that the husband was negligent in not telling his wife that some time in the distant past he had suffered from seizures. She had no idea that he had this proclivity or she would not have ridden in such a vehicle with him.  The defense argued that this was an act of God so there was no negligence, and the insurance company denied coverage for him.