Our 81-year-old client suffered severe spinal injuries when he fell while trying to uncover patio furniture at a second home in Copperopolis, California, owned by a family member. This severity of his injuries resulted in excessively large medical bills which threatened his financial security and that of his family.

About the Accident  

The rear deck of the second home where our client’s injury took place was separated into two levels, with the lower level approximately five feet below the upper level.

As he was removing the cover from patio furniture on the upper level, our elderly client lost his balance and fell backwards in the railing that separated the upper level from the lower level. Unfortunately, there was a gap in the railing where decorative plants had been placed. Our client fell against the plants which failed to keep him from falling all the way down to the second level.

Our client’s wife found him shortly after the fall and called 9-1-1. Emergency medical responders came to the scene and our client was airlifted by Medivac helicopter to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, where he was ultimately diagnosed with severe spinal injuries causing permanent incomplete quadriplegia at the C1-C4 levels.

Case Details

Once our client’s family contacted our office, GJELL, investigators were able to interview family members and also inspect and photograph the area where the fall occurred. GJELL also secured the designed plans for the deck and railing, as well as other related construction documents.

With the help of expert consultants, including engineering, architectural and safety experts, GJELL confirmed that at the time of our clients injuries, the railing in question was in violation of the California Building Code and that the violation, the gap in the railing, led directly to our client’s injury.

Following the initial injury, our client began a long series of hospitalizations at hospitals including: Memorial Medical Center, Kaiser, Fremont and ultimately, the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, which specializes in care treatment of spinal cord injuries.

While the case was moving forward, our client and his family had numerous questions for GJELL, including:

  • Would we be able to prove who was responsible for the occurrence of this fall?
  • Who would be responsible for paying medical bills and other related cost?
  • If long term care was necessary, would it be available?

Attorney Jim Larsen of GJELL, and his team worked together all of the related medical records from each of the hospitalizations; they also had the client evaluated by numerous expert medical, vocational, and life care planning consultants in order to fully evaluate the lifetime care cost associated with the client’s devastating injuries.

Once the liability and medical aspects of the case were prepared, Mr. Larsen attended a private mediation with a retired judge, along with the client, his family and representatives of the insurance company for the at fault parties. After multiple mediation sessions, the case was ultimately settled for $3,689,932.80.

Following the settlement, Mr. Larsen negotiated with the VA Hospital and with representatives of Medicare to minimize the medical reimbursement claims in order to lessen the impact on the family. The funds recovered by the client ultimately allowed him to enjoy an increased level of care for his injuries for the rest of his life.

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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.