Contact Us

Contact Us

When insurance companies are looking out for themselves - we are here to look out for you

Get in touch with us

Call for a Free Consultation

Serving Central California

Specializing Exclusively in Personal Injury Since 1975

$300,000 Awarded a Visalia Unified School Bus Driver and His Wife

$300,000 Awarded a Visalia Unified School Bus Driver and His Wife

Posted By Jim Burns || 4-Mar-2015

A Visalia Unified school bus driver was on his route in early December 2011 with children in the back of the bus when his worst fear happened, He was involved in a motor vehicle accident. A 51 year old local woman driving a 2003 Lincoln Navigator made a dangerous and ill advised left turn in front of the bus. The bus driver slammed on is brakes and was able to reduce his speed considerably before impact. The investigating police officer found the woman at fault by being in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 21801 (A) noting that the driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left...shall yield the right of way to al vehicles that are approaching close enough to constitute a hazard at anytime during the turning movement. Fortunately none of the children sustained injury likely due to the bus driver’s quick action in slowing the bus. He got out and exchanged information with the woman and advised the police officer what had happened. No ambulance was required to be summoned. The Bus driver did not seek immediate medical attention. On December 27, 2011 he felt pain in his knee and back. He decided to call the Dunnion Law Firm for advice as the firm had earlier represented his niece relating to a dog bite attack that was handled successfully. He really did not know what to do. The Dunnion attorney advised him to file a workers compensation claim and seek treatment for his pain. When he went to the doctor they advised him he had a back strain and could return to work which he did . The doctor noted that the bus driver had a prior hip replacement on his left and that his right hip would need to be replaced in the future. After two weeks back on the bus the driver was noting his hip was getting worse. He returned to his doctor who said that the accident had aggravated his pre existing hip condition and now the hip should be replaced. Post surgery the Dunnion attorney brought a claim for personal injury against the woman who caused the accident and her insurance company. The insurance company denied the claim contending that the low speed impact could not have caused the injury. The treating orthopedic doctor was interviewed and found to have the opinion that but for the accident he could have gone another year or year and half with his hip before replacement. Armed with this evidence the Dunnion attorney hired experts who opined that the driver could not return to his duties and would have to retire at age 64 rather than 66 as he planned, An expert economist found that he lost benefits by retiring early and potentially lost future earnings be cause bus drivers frequently work beyond normal retirement age. The bus driver stated this to be true and that he missed being with the children. The Dunnion attorney maintained the position and set a trial date for April 2015. Faced with the pending trial the insurance company for the woman driver agree to mediation. In the first round the insurance company offered $40,000.00 to settle bus drivers injury and his wife’s loss of consortium claim for injury to her spouse. The offer was flatly rejected by the Dunnion Attorney and now shielded by defense counsel hired by the insurance company started formal discovery. In the face of the defense the Dunnion Law Firm did not move instead meeting defendant’s discovery with its own. Ultimately as the trial grew even closer the big city lawyer hired by the insurance company ask for a second round of mediation with the same mediator. This time the case settled not for $40,000.00 but $300,000.00 apportioned $50,000.00 to the wife’s loss of consortium claim and $250,000.00 to the Bus Driver for his injury and loss of benefits. It is note worthy that the workers compensation carrier who paid the medical expenses for the knee replacement had little faith in a recovery and sold its lien rights to the defendant. The $300,000.00 settlement was new money in that the bus driver did not have to repay the workers compensation as would be normal in such a case. The law is clear in that you only get made whole one time. In this instance the workers compensation case continues with the expectation that the bus driver will receive a life time annuity benefit from the workers compensation insurance carrier for the school district. The bus driver and his wife were happy they called the Dunnion Law Firm. They said to think we were going to do nothing and that is what we would have done if it had not been for our niece suggesting we call “just to get some advice.”

Categories: Auto Accident