The Los Angeles Personal Injury attorneys of Kussman and Whitehill are here to help you and make sure your legal rights are protected.
Q. How do I know if my birth-injured child has a case?
A. Contact us for a free consultation. After we learn more about your
case, we obtain the medical records. These include the mother's pre-natal,
labor and delivery records, fetal monitor strips, the baby's newborn records,
as well as the child's subsequent medical, therapy, or school records. In addition,
we might obtain CT scans or MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Images) of the brain, so
they can be reviewed. As an attorney and physician, Russell Kussman, M.D.,
J.D. has the expertise to assess your case. He may also consult with an obstetrician,
neurologist or other medical experts.
Q. Is there a time limit to file a claim?
A. Yes. In California that varies, depending one the age of the plaintiff,
when the malpractice was discovered, and whether or not the defendant was a
The statute of limitations generally runs, even if your family may not be aware
of it. Therefore, if you think your child may have been injured during the
birth process as a result of medical negligence, we highly recommend you begin
your investigation into the circumstances as soon as possible.
Q. My child has been diagnosed with lifelong injuries. How do we assess what
care he or she will need in the future?
A. As your child's case progresses, Kussman & Whitehill will continue
to obtain the latest medical, therapeutic, and scholastic records as they become
available. We meet with appropriate experts, including pediatric neurologists,
physical and occupational therapists, neuropsychologists, and/or life-care planners
to determine your child's future care needs. One or more of these professionals
will evaluate your child's condition. This will not interfere with the ongoing
care that your child is receiving.
Based upon medical records and our experts' evaluations, we obtain projections for
the future. This includes what care will be required and whether your child's
employment opportunities may be limited because of birth injuries. We then
retain an economist to calculate how much the future care will cost, and the
amount of future earnings your child may lose because of disabilities.
The law does not require us to prove these damages with "certainty." Instead,
the standard of proof is "reasonable probability."
Q. What are the chances of settling my case "out of court"?
A. In our experience, most birth-injury cases settle prior to trial. However, Kussman & Whitehill cannot determine this ahead of time, and many cases do go to jury trial. Experience has shown that in order to settle cases
favorably, we must present a compelling case to the other side and be prepared
to take the case to trial. When that happens, doctors, hospitals, and insurance
companies are more likely to settle rather than take their chances against us
in court. If the case does not settle, Kussman & Whitehill has one of the
most successful track records for jury trials in the State of California.
Q. How do I know if I have a Personal Injury claim?
A. You must be able to show that you have been injured either physically
or emotionally. In addition, you must be able to show that someone else (the
defendant) is at fault for your injury under a negligence, strict liability
or intentional misconduct theory. In some cases, it may be necessary for you
to show that the other party is more at fault for the injury than you are.
Q. If the accident is partly my fault, can I still have a claim?
A. Yes, you may have a claim based on the concept of Comparative Negligence
or Contributory Negligence.
The term "contributory negligence" is used to describe the actions of
an injured person that may have also caused that person's own injuries. For
example, a person who ignores a "Caution - Wet Floor" sign and slips
and falls in the supermarket may be found to have been careless and at fault
for any injuries suffered. "Contributory negligence" can prevent a
person from collecting any monies to compensate for injuries suffered, even
if that person's carelessness was minor.
Q. What happens if I get injured on the job?
A. You must tell your supervisor or manager within 30 days of the injury
or you will waive your rights to workers' compensation benefits for that injury.
If possible, put the information in writing and keep a copy for your records.
Accurately report the circumstances surrounding the incident, and describe all
parts of the body that were affected. Inform your employer of all witnesses
to the accident; they will be crucial in verifying the events leading up to
and occurring after your injury. As soon as possible, ask all witnesses to write
in their own words exactly what happened, and be sure that they sign and date
Also, ask for a copy of the accident report completed by your employer. If your employer
does not make a written report, ask your supervisor to sign a statement indicating
you informed your employer of the on-the-job accident, and get at least one
witness to sign that statement.
Q. How long will it take to settle my claim?
A. That depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. The more
complex the case, the longer it may take to settle. Many cases can take anywhere
from 3 to 18 months to settle depending on their complexity.
Q. What if I've been injured in an automobile accident?
A. First of all, obtain the name and address of the operator of each
vehicle. Additionally, the name and address of the owner of each vehicle involved
should be obtained and license plate number of all vehicles should be recorded.
Lastly, the name of the automobile insurance company for each vehicle should
be obtained. If possible, obtain the names, addresses and telephone numbers
of any witnesses to the accident.
With any type of injury, the police should be called to investigate the accident.
The police officer will write a report which includes the details of the accident
and the nature and extent of any damages and injuries. Insurance companies will
require that a report of the accident be obtained before providing any benefits.
It is most important to immediately contact your own insurance company to report
to them any property damage or personal injury.
If you or a family member is injured in a motor vehicle accident, prompt medical
attention should be obtained. If you are seriously injured as a result of someone
else's negligence, you should not talk to any representative of the negligent
driver or owner's insurance company until you have sought the advice of your
Q. What if I've been injured in a slip & fall accident?
A. Most businesses and homeowners carry liability insurance to protect
them in the event that someone is injured while on their property. This would
include slip-and-fall type cases which are generally known as premise liability
The owner or possessor of a residence, land, or place of business has the duty to
exercise reasonable care for the protection of those individuals who are invited
to come upon the premises. This would include those whom, as members of the
public, come upon the land or enter a store or place of business to shop or
do business. In such cases, the owner, company, or person occupying the premises
must inspect the premises to discover any dangerous conditions and warn the
invitee of dangers upon the premises.
Additionally, the property owner or possessor has a duty to exercise ordinary care in maintaining
his or her premises in a reasonably safe condition in order to prevent injury
to persons on the property.
Landowners may also be responsible for injuries occurring as a result of poorly maintained
or poorly lit common areas of a building such as stairways, sidewalks, and halls.
Likewise, homeowners may be liable for injuries which occur in their homes or
yards if such injury results from a condition which presents an unreasonable
risk of harm to those who have permission to be upon the premises.
Class Action Suits
How many people are needed to bring a Class Action?
A. A single person who has been injured may bring a class action on
behalf of everyone who has been harmed. It is common, however, after the action
has been started for many other injured people to join the class suit.
Q. How is a Class member informed of his or her rights?
A. The court will order the best and most practicable method of notice,
which is often an advertisement in a newspaper, a first-class mailing, or both.
Recently, the court has also approved and encouraged the use of Internet web
sites to serve as an additional means of dissemination of the notice information.
Accordingly, a class member may search the Internet to find out about class
action resolutions and related information. However, in order to best insure
that you receive notice, you may register your claim with the plaintiffs' attorneys
representing the class, who will send registered class members individual communications
regarding the lawsuit.
Q. Can consumers bring class actions relating to products or services?
A. Absolutely. There have been many successful class actions brought
by consumers. Signs of consumer fraud include:
- Misrepresentations regarding a product or a service.
- Products or services that just don`t work as they should.
- Hidden fees or charges, or unexpected billing surprises.
- Products that wear out early.
- Use of the product results in injury.
Q. How are attorneys' fees paid in a Class Action?
A. As with other cases, Kussman & Whitehill handle
these claims on contingency basis, which means we only get
paid out of any recovery amount they obtain. This system helps
ensure that many investors and consumers with small losses
can easily afford to bring Class Actions to assert their rights.