Articles Posted in Firm News

SMDA is pleased to update the status of the victory in the trial win against the auto insurer of a grieving family of their minor daughter who was seriously injured in a motor vehicle collision.  SMDA tried this case to verdict and successfully defended the case in the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.  The case was tried over three days in August of 2015.  SMDA, with the assistance of counsel for Mary Free Bed Hospital and Covenant Health Care, won a verdict of over one million dollars following a hard fought trial. Plaintiff’s daughter, who passed away in a house fire before trial, was 15 years old at the time of the crash.  She sustained serious injuries as a result of a single car accident while she was on her way to school.  Her right to receive automobile no-fault insurance benefits rested on whether or not the she had permission to drive the car.  Since the insurance company alleged that she did not have permission and thus was not entitled to receive any benefits from her mother’s automobile insurance policy, it was their burden to explicitly prove she took the car without her parents’ permission. Although her mother initially stated that her daughter had taken the car without permission, under testimony both parents and the minor plaintiff unequivocally testified that she had permission to take the family car.  The insurance company also argued that permission could not be legally granted because the minor only had a permit and she could not legally operate the vehicle without a licensed adult in the car.  

 

At trial, her mother, who is a rehabilitation nurse, admitted that she initially told the Defendant Insurance Company adjustor that her daughter didn’t have permission to take the car.  However, she indicated that she was afraid that if she admitted that she allowed her daughter to take the car, she would be criminally prosecuted and she would be unable to take care of her daughter. Her father also testified that his daughter had permission to take the car on that day and that she had been given permission to take the car a number of times previously.  With the testimony of both of the client’s parents, and the client’s own testimony presented through testimony provided before she passed away from an unrelated house fire, and the testimony of a half dozen eyewitness that she had driven the car alone without supervision before the accident, and some who were present when her parents gave her permission to do so, the lawyers from SMDA were able to win the case in favor of the teen. After a three day trial, the jury awarded the estate of the injury victim $246,897.00 in overdue benefits and another $1,018,467.00 to Covenant Medical Center Inc. and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for a total verdict of $1,265,364.00.  

 

After the trial, the defendant filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals alleging that the teen had illegally taken the car, consequently nullifying her ability to make a claim.  However, the Court of Appeals held that the specific wording of the statute which, when analyzed, requires that whoever operates the vehicle only need to acquire it by legal means regardless of whether or not they operate it legally in order to qualify for no-fault insurance benefits. Since SMDA proved that the minor driver had received permission to “take” the car, regardless of the fact that she only had a permit, the appeal was denied.  Now that the Supreme Court refused defendant’s request to hear the case, this matter has finally been resolved once and for all allowing the family the closure they deserve.  

Partner, Patrick Derkacz, recently settled an auto injury claim for $1,195,000.00 for a husband and wife who were the victims of a violent car accident.

The couple was traveling to see their granddaughter’s new apartment on a Sunday morning before their lives were changed forever. They were violently rear-ended by a vehicle driving 70 mph. As a direct result of the accident, both the husband and wife sustained serious and life changing injuries.

Mr. Derkacz was able to prove that the driver of the accident was negligent and that, due to their injuries, the quality of the couple’s lives had been significantly diminished.

The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation is an all volunteer, grass roots organization whose goal is to bring a smile to the face of a child that is suffering. The mission of The Jenna Kast Believe in Miracles Foundation is to enrich the lives of Michigan children suffering from life-threatening medical conditions by buying gifts and bringing joy and hope to their lives. Along with their gift, each child receives a personalized trophy to acknowledge their courageous fight.

This is a wonderful organization and our firm is proud and privileged to be a sponsor and a part of helping achieve its mission.

SMDA

 

Learn more about this great organization by visiting their website at www.believeinmiracles.org

Metro Detroit is home to one of the largest Arab American communities in the United States. At SMDA we are honored to serve the legal needs of these individuals and of the diverse backgrounds throughout our community, including Chaldean-Americans.

Metro Detroit has the largest community of Chaldeans, over 120,000. Many of these Chaldeans reside in our very own neighborhood of Sterling Heights. Among our experienced team of attorneys, we have a Chaldean attorney, Dahlia Barkho. Dahlia brings a unique understanding of the Chaldean culture to our firm. She speaks English and Aramaic (Chaldean) and truly understands any challenges that Chaldean-Americans may deal with.

Our firm appreciates that Chaldeans have a very unique culture and come from a very large, yet close-knit community. We understand that they may find it easier and more comfortable meeting with an attorney who understands them first hand and speaks the Chaldean language. We are pleased to have a Chaldean-speaking attorney to help our Chaldean neighbors.

Our firm handles auto accident cases on a contingency fee. Having a contingency fee agreement means that the attorney fee is contingent upon the outcome of the case. In other words, you only pay us if we are able to recover a settlement or obtain a verdict on your case.

This type of fee agreement is beneficial to a client for many reasons. It permits a car accident victim to retain our attorneys, even if they do not have the funds to pay the attorney in the beginning. Offering a contingency fee agreement is very valuable to our clients. It allows them to retain an attorney who can fight for their rights, regardless of their financial status or ability to pay large attorney fees.

Additionally, you will not be required to pay any costs in the beginning of the case. All of the costs of the case will be paid up front by our firm, and the firm will be reimbursed upon resolution of the case.

When someone is involved in a car accident, they may have many questions. Most importantly, they are left wondering what the next step is. Our experienced attorneys are here to help.

Typically, a personal injury claim begins with consulting with an attorney who has experience handling these types of claims. SMDA has decades of experience with all types of cases, including personal injury claims, such as auto accidents or slip and falls.

After being involved in a collision, a car accident victim is left with many questions. What do I need to do next? Is my case worth anything? Who can help me? Rest assured that the attorneys at SMDA are available to answer all of your questions and guide you through your case.

SMDA partner, Phil Serafini, obtained an outstanding result in a automobile No-Fault case.

A minor, Alison Monaco, was involved in a serious 1-car accident and sustained serious and life-changing injuries. Our firm was contacted by her mother one day before a lawsuit had to be filed to against the insurance company, Home-Owners, for denying her daughter’s Michigan No-Fault Insurance Benefits.

Home-Owners insurance company denied the claim because at the time of the accident, the Alison was 15-years-old and driving without a parent in the car, contrary to Michigan law. Her mother had given a statement to Home-Owners that her daughter did not have permission to drive the car on the day of the accident. Her father allegedly made a comment at the scene that could be construed as meaning that his daughter did not have permission as well.

SMDA Partner, Patrick Derkacz, just finished a trial this week for a client who was injured in a 2004 crash. We sued his insurance company for underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. This is coverage which you buy for yourself which should pay if you get in a car crash and the at-fault driver does not have enough coverage.

Our client suffered a serious injury to his ankle called a sub-talar dislocation. He soon developed post-traumatic arthritis. He walks with a limp and has ankle pain every single day. His doctors have offered ankle fusion surgery but cannot promise him that it will relieve his pain.

The Insurance company took the position that the money paid by the at-fault driver’s insurer (Allstate-after years of litigation) $100,000 was “adequate compensation.” We strongly disagreed.

SMDA client SG suffered devastating and life altering injuries in a head on highway speed collision on May 15, 1987. She was found under the dashboard and life flighted to the hospital. She was insured with State Farm at the time of the collision.

During the ensuing years, SG and her family noticed that she developed progressively worsening tremors. She was eventually diagnosed with Dystonia which is a neurological movement disorder that causes sustained muscle contractions where her muscles will spasm to the point that her body twists involuntarily or engages in repetitive movements or she is paralyzed in abnormal positions for extended periods of time without advance warning.

SG’s doctors determined that her condition was due in part to the devastating injuries she suffered in the crash and that she needed help to care for herself when she suffered these tremors. State Farm refused to honor the claim. State Farm again hired a number of highly paid and frequently used doctors who examined SG and not surprisingly testified SG’s problems were not related to the crash.

SMDA client, CT was rear-ended on June 7, 2004. AT the time she was insured with State Farm. CT suffered a herniated disc in her neck and underwent fusion surgery about 6 months later. State Farm paid personal injury protection (PIP) benefits (consisting of medical bills and replacement services) for about two years and then terminated all benefits based on the opinions of several doctors they hired to offer an opinion. Not surprisingly, these highly paid and frequently used reviewers said CT’s ongoing problems were not related to the car crash.

SMDA filed suit on CT’s behalf in December of 2008 to make State Farm pay for her ongoing medical care and treatment. State Farm waited until the day of trial two years later (December 6, 2010) to offer to settle the case for about 60 percent of the unpaid medical bills. CT and her counsel (SMDA partner Patrick Derkacz) said no thanks to that.

After a 3 day trial the jury returned a verdict in CT’s favor and determined that State Farm owed every single penny that CT asked for. The jury also determined that the medical bills were overdue and ordered State Farm to pay penalty interest.