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“Fantastic Service”

“Mr. Eller is always responds in a timely manner and always answers all the questions one may have without making things more complicated…Not all attorneys are the same and trust me, I shopped around and Mr. Eller was not only reasonable but also provided fantastic service. I won’t use any other attorney.”

Actual client comments posted on Yahoo Local 02/17/2007.

Each case presents unique and specific factual and legal circumstances.

Past performance does not guarantee future performance.

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“Do yourself a favor and use [Travis] Scott Eller as your attorney.”

“Do yourself a favor and use [Travis] Scott Eller as your attorney.” Read More

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What Emergency?

A car was in the front of a line of cars travelling in the same lane. The lead car stopped suddenly. The car behind it was able to stop. The third car back abruptly switched lanes and went around the other two without incident. The fourth car, however, slammed on the brakes, but not soon enough to avoid slamming into the second car.

The driver of the second car was injured, and sued. The judge instructed the jury on the emergency doctrine. The judge instructed the jury that under Washington personal injury law, the emergency doctrine applies if “through no negligence of his or her own” a driver is “compelled to decide instantly how to avoid injury” and “makes such a choice as a reasonably careful person placed in such a position might make. If so, the driver “is not negligent even though it is not the wisest choice.”

The jury found the driver was not negligent.

There was no evidence that there were alternate choices available to the fourth driver. Instructing a jury on the emergency doctrine is also not appropriate if the party seeking the instruction brought about the emergency by his own negligence. Here, the driver’s testimony was that “he tried to stop but could not stop quickly enough so he ran into” the second car.

 

The Court of Appeals reversed, finding the trial court erred in giving the emergency doctrine instruction.[1]

 

Often personal injury cases are not as simple as they look. Even though the person injured was “rear-ended” through no fault of her own, in court the following driver who hit her was not held responsible. Even after the appeal, she will have to go through an entire second trial to receive compensation (assuming the case does not settle out of court first).  This case is a good illustration of why it is important to seek a free personal injury case evaluation.

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By personal injury attorney Travis Scott Eller

 

[1] Crettol v. Gonzalez-Reyes, unpublished (No. 68943-6-1 October 28, 2013).

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Cosmetic Surgery Gone Wrong

A woman sought elective facial injections, in an effort to look more “rested.”  The result was necrosis that left permanent, deep scarring. Read More

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Not the Nanny

A woman was injured in an auto accident. She hired an attorney. Shortly before the statute of limitations was to run, the attorney filed the lawsuit and had a process server attempt to serve papers on the other driver. The process server handed to the documents to the nanny, who answered the door. Unfortunately, the nanny did not live there, and service must be on a resident. Guests, employees, and the like do not count.

The case was dismissed. The injured woman’s attorney appealed. He lost. The dismissal was upheld, and the attorney who appealed for the injured woman was ordered to pay some of the other side’s attorney fees.[1]

lawblog disclaimer

 

 

This sad scenario happens far too often. It is important to file any personal injury case well before the statute of limitations is to run.  While we always strive to settle out of court, that is not always possible. If a case has not settled it should filed well in advance of the statute deadline. This is one of many reasons it is best to contact a personal injury attorney early.

Contact our office for a free personal injury case evaluation.

By personal injury attorney Travis Eller



[1] Vuletic v. McKissic, unpublished (Wa. Ct. App. No. 69515-1-1, December 16, 2013). Available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/695151.pdf

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Heavy Metal Hairdresser

A hairdresser went to a heavy metal concert featuring a band called “Spiderface.” Spiderface uses fake blood. The hairdresser slipped and fell in the fake blood. She broke her ankle, and was unable to work for months. Read More

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Suing John Doe

A tenant filed a personal injury lawsuit against his landlords one day before the statute of limitations was to run. The complaint named the landlord and “John Does 1-20,” but did not name the owners of the property, or describe facts that would make it clear the tenant intended to name the owner as well as the landlord.

Later, the tenant’s attorney attempted to add the owners of the property (which were not the same persons as the tenant’s landlord).  The statute of limitations had run in the meantime. The trial court granted the owners’ motion to dismiss. The tenant appealed.[1]

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Not in the Dictionary

A doctor misdiagnosed a woman’s ectopic pregnancy and removed the wrong Fallopian tube. The woman later had the other Fallopian tube removed in a second surgery. She sued. The jury returned a verdict of $71,795.53.

When the jury deliberated one juror looked up the word “negligence” in a dictionary (even though it is properly defined in the judge’s jury instructions) and reported the dictionary definition to other jurors. The judge granted the defense motion for a new trial. The woman appealed.[1]

lawblog disclaimer

The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge. The Court noted an earlier Washington Supreme Court decision in which essentially the same thing had happened. In that case, a jury looked up a legal term, and even used a legal dictionary. The dictionary definition differed from Washington law, so the court ordered a new trial. The Supreme Court upheld the result.

Perhaps the woman’s attorney in closing argument went over the definition of “negligence” in the judge’s instructions. In any event, these cases illustrate the vital importance of explaining the judge’s instructions in plain English in closing argument, “one of the more important tasks in closing.”[2]



[1] Cutuk v. Bray, unpublished (No. 68406-0-1, October 28, 2013). Available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/684060.pdf (last accessed 11/11/2013.)

[2] Ball, David, David Ball on Damages §8-10 (3rd ed., NITA 2011).

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As in Baseball, No Medical Malpractice “Team” Errors

The Court of Appeals ruling discussed in the post was later overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court.

 

The Washington Court of Appeals recently upheld the trial court in finding that in Washington medical malpractice law – as in baseball – there is no such thing as a “team” error.[1]

A man underwent a six-hour heart surgery. Later he developed compartment syndrome – a known and serious, if rare, complication from long surgery. The compartment syndrome was not initially diagnosed, and by the time discovered had caused extensive and permanent damage to the man’s leg, including death of muscle tissue.

The man sued the hospital for alleged failure to timely diagnose compartment syndrome.

At trial both sides produced experts who testified that the man was attended to post-surgery using a “team” approach. The surgeons and the physician assistants made rounds together twice per day. In the team approach, multiple surgeons see the patient post-surgery, regardless of who is primarily in charge.

According to the hospital, at any time a patient needs assistance the physician seeing the patient is well-aware of what’s going on. “So we basically assume everybody is our patient.” The hospital witness testified that the “team” “evaluate[s] patients in such a way that everybody gets a chance to have input.”

The patient’s expert testified that the care fell below the standard of care because of a lack of proper monitoring and a failure to rule out a known possible complication after surgery. When asked whom he was criticizing, the patient’s expert admitted that he “was not certain entirely as to who was to blame” but blamed the surgeon of record, even though the surgeon of record “wasn’t necessarily in charge of this patient at the time that the diagnosis was made.”  In fact, the surgeon of record was on the other side of the country post-surgery – and therefore was not supervising the “team.”

The patient failed to produce evidence of any particular person failing to meet the standard of care for their particular field of expertise. Instead, his attorney argued that the surgeon of record was negligent as team leader, and therefore the hospital was liable, too.

The trial judge explained in his ruling that “a team isn’t negligent,” and instead there needed “to be a negligent player on the team.” The patient’s attorneys having failed to produce proof of a negligent player on the team, the judge overturned the $583,000 jury verdict.

The Court of Appeals agreed with the trial judge, and upheld the result.

Medical malpractice is harder than it looks. Even when there are terrible results from medical care, the patient must prove that a particular health care provider breach the standard of care in their field of expertise, and that this breach of the standard of care caused the terrible result.

lawblog disclaimer

By personal injury attorney Travis Eller



[1] Grove v. Peacehealth St. Joseph Hospital, ___ Wn. App. ____ (No. 69556-8-1, October , 2013). Available at http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/69556-8.pdf. (Last accessed 11/04/13).

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No Bond, No Trial

A resident of Turkey was injured in Washington while on a bicycle. He sued the Washington driver. The injured bicyclist got only a small award in arbitration, so he appealed and was given a trial date for a jury trial. The bicyclist then relocated back to Turkey indefinitely. When he failed to post a bond, the trial court dismissed his personal injury claim. He appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

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Because he appealed a mandatory arbitration award, the injured bicyclist was subject to paying attorney fees and costs unless he got a better award at trial. The bicyclist was out of the country, and did not know when he might return to Washington – making collecting on the potential fees and costs award difficult. Therefore, the trial court granted a defense motion for a bond, and ordered it be paid within 90 days. When that did not happen, the trial court dismissed the case. With the case dismissed, the injured bicyclist obviously did not improve the arbitration result, and the trial court awarded fees and costs of $8,755.

The Court of Appeals upheld the trial court, and also awarded additional fees for the appeal.[1]

As noted above, this was not one of our cases.

If you have been injured and would like a free personal injury cases analysis, please contact our firm.

By personal injury attorney Travis Eller



[1] Saylik v. Walker, unpublished (67951-1-I, September 23, 2013). Available at https://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/679511.pdf (last accessed 10/13/13).

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Drunk Jaywalker Wins on Appeal

A drunk 70-year-old jaywalker sued the driver of a car who hit him. The jaywalker chose a poorly lit stretch of multi-lane highway to cross in the dark. Although testimony conflicted, it either was or had recently been raining. The driver who hit the jaywalking pedestrian never saw him. Read More

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Elderly Woman Dies from Fall in Puddle of Water

An elderly woman fell in a puddle of water near an elevator in a hospital. She was taken to the ER, treated for a dislocated shoulder, and released. Family members found her unconscious the next morning. She died less than a week later from intracranial bleeding. Read More