At-fault to $1M Settlement: CZ Law Procures Justice for Accident Victim’s Family
At CZ Law, we don’t back down from tough cases. Our formidable personal injury lawyers aren’t afraid of a challenge and strategically take on complex cases, when many less experienced firms would turn away. Most recently, CZ Law Partner Pejman Ben-Cohen, together with Trial Lawyer Peter Cho, secured a $1 million policy-limit settlement in a wrongful death accident lawsuit where our client, the decedent, was deemed 100% at-fault.
On October 20, 2021, Eduardo Marquez made a wide U-turn at the intersection of Otay Mesa Rd. and Sanyo Ave. in San Diego, California, following a car who had just completed the U-turn. Mr. Marquez’s vehicle was broadsided by a speeding truck that had been traveling directly behind him. Mr. Marquez was killed instantly in the collision; his family turned to CZ Law for help.
Although some industry professionals cautioned against accepting the case, Pejman and his team were confident in their ability to prove that Jeffrey Peter Exner, driving for John’s Trucking, shared in liability for the collision. After many months of complicated litigation, the defense ultimately agreed to a $1 million dollar policy-limit settlement, resulting in justice for Mr. Marquez’s family.
The accident lawyers at Carpenter & Zuckerman are well-versed in managing complex cases involving disputed liability. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact us today to find out how we can help.
Reconstructing the Past: Using Expert Witnesses to Reveal Truth
Given the fact that the official traffic collision report named Mr. Marquez 100% at-fault for the collision, Pejman and Peter retained an accident reconstruction expert to analyze the data obtained by the police at the scene. They needed to determine whether or not our deceased client (the plaintiff) was, in fact, fully responsible for the accident.
Analyzing photographs, skid marks, impact points, and other data from the scene, combined with relevant National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies, the specialist concluded that Mr. Exner (the defendant) could have braked in time and avoided the collision, had he been driving at the 50mph speed limit (rather than 70mph) and begun braking when the first vehicle initiated a U-turn.
This conclusion was supported by the defendant’s statement to police officers at the scene that he noticed two vehicles in front of him and saw the first vehicle (which Mr. Marquez was following) do a quick U-turn. Mr. Exner also admitted to officers that he “knew what was going to happen” and applied his brakes, but could not stop in time.
Armed with the accident reconstruction expert’s determination, along with the defendant’s revealing statements to officers at the scene, Pejman and Peter crafted a strategic demand letter expressing their intention to argue at trial that Mr. Exner’s conduct — namely, his speeding and inattentiveness — was a substantial factor in causing Mr. Marquez’s untimely death.
The Art of Arguing Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Law
CZ Law’s argument that the defendant and plaintiff shared responsibility for causing the accident is supported by the rule of comparative negligence in personal injury law. Nolo.com explains comparative negligence as a system in which fault is allocated between parties involved in a collision. Specifically describing the rule of pure comparative negligence used in California, Cornell Law School states:
“When an injured victim was partially at fault because of their own negligence, the court may assign a percentage of fault to both the injured victim and the defendant.”
Pejman and Peter knew their demand letter would have the greatest impact if the defense understood the likelihood of the Plaintiff winning at trial. As such, they expressed their intention to reasonably argue that Mr. Marquez and Mr. Exner shared responsibility for the collision, rather than claiming that Mr. Exner was 100% at-fault. They further revealed their intention of asking the jury for a verdict of $50 million. Mr. Exner’s defense team recognized their precarious position should the case go to trial, and ultimately agreed to the $1 million settlement.
You can rely on the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Carpenter & Zuckerman to guide you through the complicated liability issues from your accident. As evidenced by the case of Mr. Marquez, CZ Law’s professional team of trial lawyers are adept at litigating disputed liability cases — even when our client has been deemed 100% at fault.
Involved in an Accident? Crucial Do’s and Don'ts At the Scene
If you are involved in an accident, here are several things you should not do:
DON’T Admit Fault for the Accident
If you believe you caused an accident, it is best to reserve admitting fault until you speak with a knowledgeable car accident attorney. Remember: it will not hurt your case to wait. However, admitting fault at the scene or to an insurance adjuster afterwards can negatively impact the outcome of your case. Mr. Marquez’s case (described above) illustrates the fact that liability is not always determined until a specialist analyzes the accident data.
DON’T Try to Handle It Privately
You may be in a hurry or overwhelmed at the scene of the accident. It is important that you slow down and take things one step at a time. Don’t opt to handle the situation privately just to keep the peace or avoid a lawsuit. Instead, call for help and obtain a police report to document the incident. By doing so, you leave your options open to pursue compensation for your damages. Remember that the full extent of accident injuries is often not immediately apparent.
DON’T Accept a Settlement Without Consulting With a Lawyer
It is important to remember that an insurance company’s primary goal is to maximize their profits. Insurance adjusters are trained to settle claims for the minimum amount possible. As such, they may seem helpful and caring in their interactions with you, but their motivation is to put you at ease so you will agree to a lesser settlement than you deserve. Always seek advice from a personal injury attorney prior to accepting an insurance company’s settlement offer.
Follow these helpful tips to learn what you should do after an accident:
DO Document as Much as Possible
With safety remaining your top priority, gather as much photo documentation as possible at the scene of the accident. Your attorney may be able to use evidence you gather. However, take care to keep these photos private — do not post them on social media. Photographic evidence may include the following:
Important documents (insurance cards, drivers’ licenses, etc.)
Contact information for the other party and/or witnesses
Situational factors (icy roads, glaring sunlight, or obstacles in the road)
DO Seek an Immediate Medical Evaluation
Even if you suspect your injuries are minor, it is important to get a thorough medical evaluation after a motor vehicle accident. The full extent of your accident injuries may not be readily apparent at the scene. Getting a medical evaluation serves to document your injuries, and also demonstrates that you are taking the situation seriously.
DO Speak With an Experienced Accident Lawyer
You stand the best chance of recovering fair compensation for your damages if you consult with an experienced and compassionate car accident attorney. It is important that you speak with an attorney prior to talking with insurance adjusters regarding the collision. Your attorney can provide invaluable guidance on navigating these interactions.
CZ Law’s Accident Lawyers Can Manage Your Complex Case
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, regardless of how dire the situation seems, the experienced accident attorneys at Carpenter & Zuckerman can guide you through the ordeal. Whether the other party was deemed at-fault for the incident or you share partial responsibility, our legal team is well-versed in handling even the most complex cases.
With over two decades of industry experience, CZ Law maintains a tight network of expert resources to assist in your case — from top medical professionals to manage your injuries and rehabilitation to accident reconstruction specialists skilled at uncovering case-altering details from the accident data. Whatever your specific needs, CZ Law is equipped to handle them.
While CZ Law understands that no amount of financial compensation can alleviate the pain of losing a loved one, our firm is steadfastly committed to ensuring each of our clients' cases is resolved with the best outcome possible, including compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, as well as property damage.
Established in 1995, CZ Law has been compassionately serving clients for over 25 years throughout California, Washington, and other states. Our office locations include Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Garden Grove, Irvine, San Diego, Bakersfield, and Seattle. To date, CZ Law has secured over $2 billion in settlements and verdicts for our deserving clients.
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