Answers With Azizi – The Personal Injury Lawsuit Podcast
Welcome to “Answers with Azizi,” a straightforward audio conversation with Los Angeles amputation lawyer David Azizi about the legal matters affecting those who have been harmed, often due to the negligence of another party.
Listen to the podcast episode by clicking the player at the top of the page
Questions featured in the episode:
- At what point after a traumatic amputation event do victims or their families reach out to a lawyer?
- What questions do you ask potential clients to see if you can move forward with their amputation case?
- Who is the target of a lawsuit in amputation cases?
- What kind of timeline do clients face with amputation claims?
- Do many of these cases get settled out of court? Or are they going to trial?
- What kind of evidence are you looking to gather for a strong amputation lawsuit?
- How involved do victims that are children need to be in these cases, and what role do parents play in the legal process?
- What are you seeing as the most common amputations?
- What if a victim may be partially at fault for their own injuries?
- What is comparative fault with regard to negligence?
- What about amputation considerations for specialized industries like musicians who have relied on their hands?
- What if I have not yet pursued an attorney for amputation, what is the statute of limitations for these kinds of cases?
Transcription of Podcast Episode: Amputation Injury Lawyer
Answers With Azizi – Episode 2 – How Hiring An Amputation Attorney Works
Host: [00:00:03] This is answers with Azizi. I’m your host Jeremy Kocal and in today’s episode, Attorney David Azizi takes us through how hiring an amputation lawyer works. Let’s dive in. When somebody is in a major accident and you know, they’ve gone through this traumatic event, now they’re at the hospital and being dealt this news that there’s going to have to be an amputation involved, at what point do you usually see them reaching out to an attorney and how and how does that process usually work?
David Azizi: [00:00:29] I mean I’ve had clients call me from the hospital sometimes where they’re waiting to be seen. In amputation cases, it’s more likely that — in my experience it’s because of the traumatic event it’s usually after the incident has already occurred. They’ve already been to the hospital. They’ve seen a doctor, and a couple of days has passed by is when they really reach out to me and inquire as to what their options are and what they could do.
Host: [00:00:58] Are there kind of a common list of questions that you take them through to try to figure out, you know, where they’re at with with knowing if you’re going to have a case you can move forward with?
David Azizi: [00:01:08] Usually if they’re calling an attorney they feel that somebody else did something wrong to have caused them to sustain an amputation. It may be a product that caused an amputation. I mean I’ve had cases where a little girl was getting out of a bus — and she was trying to get out — she was holding onto the handle bar from the rear door and it pulled her back and then she tried to break her fall by putting her hand on the bus. The door closed and amputated her finger.
[00:01:37] I’ve had cases were like another student with at school that door had one of those magnet devices that are supposed to hold the door. What ended up happening, the magnet was defective, it released and it basically amputated his finger.
[00:01:50] I’ve had equipment fail to where then somebody has had an amputation. We’ve had amputation cases as a result of medical malpractice because some doctor made some mistake. So the manner in which the amputation occurs is important. Obviously that’s something that the client and I would sit down and try to determine as to why the amputation occurred and whether there was any negligence on anybody’s part, whether it be a product defect or whether it’s somebody some human person’s negligence that caused an amputation.
[00:02:27] And then from there we would have to determine what type of medical care is needed. Unfortunately when you sustain an amputation you’re obviously losing a body part. Depending on the technology that we have now available, sometimes you can get a prosthesis or another body part that can help and assist people being able to ambulate or try to have as much of a normal life as they could have had before the accident occurred.
[00:02:56] And then sometimes unfortunately, they need more surgery they need more medical care to help cope with the loss of a limb, which is also sometimes psychological care.
Host: [00:03:10] Who specifically are you usually going after as far as the lawsuit?
David Azizi: [00:03:15] Well in the case where we had against the bus company it was a public bus company. So in that scenario, we were going after the bus company in this case which was a public entity. It was a city that ran the bus system, and then we also name the driver. But usually when you have a driver and a public entity that runs the bus system, the driver — being within the course of scope of their employment — are provided a defense by the public entity. But basically the main target here would be both the bus driver and the public entity.
[00:03:53] I’ve have cases where, for example, we’ve had power press machines where a power press machine causes an injury to a client of ours. In that scenario, there’s an exception within the rules that you can actually… normally you can on me go after the employer on a worker’s comp — that exclusive limit that an employee has is to go through the Worker’s Comp channel. But they’ve now carved out an exception that says, if a power press machine has a guard and the employer removed it or they fail to install one — knowing that one was needed — then in that scenario not only can you pursue a clean game against the employer, but perhaps we can also include a claim against the manufacturer of that machine for failing to provide ,for example, a guard or making sure that that machine is safe.
Host: [00:04:45] When you first get a call from somebody who is dealing with an amputation or maybe they’ve already had the amputation, in general what kind of timeline are you looking at for maybe saying ‘OK we have a recovery now and here it is?'”
David Azizi: [00:04:57] If the defense is admitting liability, then obviously we’ve got one layer of determination resolve. If they’re disputing liability, well then, you’d have to litigate the case if necessary, to establish that they were at fault.
[00:05:13] So that one factor makes a difference in terms of determining how much time it will take to resolve the case. So, in one scenario if they’re admitting liability, then the next issue is going to be the damages or the injuries sustained. Unfortunately, in an amputation once you sustain a lost a limb. that’s it. The projection of determining what the future medical costs would be for a prosthesis, helping you deal with that, is kind of usually already there because unfortunately most clients come avowed, they’re not the first person that has sustained the loss of a limb.
Others have, and so there’s experts who already know in the future what this patient or this person who sustained this severe injury is going to require — if it’s a leg or an arm, whether they need wheelchairs and all that stuff. So, what that expert is, it’s life care expert who basically, and an orthopedic surgeon who can say, ‘well based on other cases we’ve had where somebody has lost a limb, here’s what they’re going to need in the future,’ and a life care expert can then assess and say, ‘OK based on this person’s life, they’re going to need this particular medical care, this doctor,’ and project what is necessary.
[00:06:30] So we can right away get an assessment of what the future medical care is going to be. The only issue is going to be with regard to psychological care. That in of itself requires a person to get treatment. Sometimes people can cope and deal with the loss of a limb right away and not have any extensive medical care. Sometimes people need extensive medical care in terms of psychological treatment, for a doctor determine what the psychological well-being of this patient is going to be in the future. So to answer your question, it varies and it’s case by case depending on liability and the patient’s extent of injuries.
Host: [00:07:08] Do you find a trend of many of these cases resulting in settlement or are many of them going to trial or is that kind of all over the place as well?
David Azizi: [00:07:18] Generally they resolve in settlement. I tend to be able to take on cases that I feel that we would be successful in. So in my experience, my cases have resulted in settlement. If I feel that the client has a difficult case or it’s unlikely that they will be successful, I would right out from the beginning and let the client know, I’m sorry I can’t, best you find another attorney.
Host: [00:07:42] Can you speak a little bit of that about the evidence that really helps you move forward with these cases?
David Azizi: [00:07:46] Right. So obviously depending on the cause and reason for the amputation — if it’s a product that caused the amputation, that product would have to be preserved and maintained in order to have an expert look at the product and be able to establish how that product was defective either in design or manufacturing, which had resulted in an amputation.
[00:08:09] If it’s a… such as the power press machine, if it involves a machine it’s important to be able to get to the machine as soon as possible to be able to preserve the evidence and prevent the employee from modifying or updating the machine to make sure that now has all the safety devices that it needs.
[00:08:28] In the case of my client which was involved in a bus accident where her finger got amputated there, it was important for us to send out a claim right away to the county and the city to request them to preserve the bus video so that we can have an understanding of how this accident occurred. Ultimately what I tell clients is the sooner you reach out to an attorney the better it is because we’ve handled these cases, and on a case by case nature, we know exactly what evidence to go after and what to request to be preserved so that we can later on use and establish liability against the party at fault.
Host: [00:09:03] Some of the pages on your site, you know, you just talk about the traumatic nature of kids going through this. This has got to be super difficult not just for the children but their parents. You know, how involved do the children you know, have to be in these cases? Is there a certain amount of shelter that you’re able to give them?
David Azizi: [00:09:19] Yes absolutely. Any time a minor is involved, in order for us to be able to pursue your claim on that minor, we have what’s called a guardian ad litem — and usually it’s either, if they have parents it’s either the mom or the dad. If they don’t, and it’s then, you know somebody who’s the guardian and maybe there’s the grandparents or someone like that. Maybe they have a father who’s busy working all the time and grandmother is available, so we find somebody that can be there to protect and be a representative of the child.
[00:09:48] And then throughout the litigation in all cases, obviously as attorneys we’re there to protect the child as well too. The children are involved but they’re kept away as much as possible, sometimes depending on the age of the child. They may have to undergo a deposition in a sense that they go to a meeting where, I guess for lack of a better word, where the other side asks questions about how the accident occurred and what, how they feel about the incident. But a lot of the opposing attorneys are sympathetic to the fact that it’s a child. They’re sympathetic to the fact that they can’t grill them and attack them, and things like that.
And majority of the time, most defense attorneys are smart enough to know that I’m not going to attack a child, because if this thing ever goes to trial, the jury is going to look at me and say, ‘well why in your right mind are you attacking a child who’s been injured severely in this accident?’ Even though now they’ve suffered this traumatic incident, that they’re not further psychologically harmed or are affected by this litigation process.
Host: [00:10:51] How about what you are seeing as the most common type of amputation?
David Azizi: [00:10:56] In my experience, my most common amputation has been a lot of like finger and hand and things of that nature because if it if it’s an equipment that they’re using, they’re using their hands. In the case that I said the student was holding onto the ledge of the door and the door slammed, that it affected his hand. I currently a client who was using a power press machine, it was his hand. Majority of the cases I’ve seen involve a hand unfortunately, something where it affects the upper body. I’ve seen toes. I’ve had cases where like, one child was riding down an escalator.
And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the escalators all have this brush on the side. I always prior to becoming a lawyer, used to think that that’s just there for you to clean your shoes as you go down. But the reason that’s there is because those things are running day in, day out and they heat up. And they found that kids’ tennis shoes have a very high tendency to, because of the heat, just gets sucked in. So I’ve had cases where people have had toes amputated or big toes amputated. I’ve also had, unfortunately, cases where people have been involved in as a pedestrian where they’ve gotten hit and they’ve had to lose a leg or a limb. But majority of time my experience has been it’s either legs, toes, or fingers.
Host: [00:12:24] And in the state of California, how does it work if the injury and amputation is a result of maybe some kind of horseplay or some kind of “mistake on the job” or something that the person, the client that you would represent, inflicted and caused their own injury. How does that work?
David Azizi:[00:12:41] In California, there’s what’s called comparative fault. And what that means basically is if some injury occurs there could be comparative fault. For example, it could be that a product is unsafe. Somebody is using it in an unsafe manner, but a product manufacturer, if they can foresee that that product may be used inappropriately, they have a duty and responsibility to either design the product differently to account for that misuse — That’s what they call “foreseeable misuse,” or provide some kind of a warning.
So in that scenario, even if there’s some fault on the plaintiffs or the injured party in having sustained injuries that they sustained, then what we have to look at is, could this injury have been prevented because of a foreseeable misuse? Like in the case that we had where the little child was trying to get out of the bus, the defense’s argument was, “well the mother should have been responsible in ensuring the safety of her child and having to leave the bus and shouldn’t have left her child behind.” Our argument was, “Well she already had a stroller in her hand, she had another other baby in the hand, she let her daughter go first. But as they came to the exit of the bus door, the bus had parked somewhat of a distance away from the curb so the little girl had difficulty stepping off. So the mom steps off first to then try to get onto the sidewalk. But by the time she got there the door closed and caused the amputation.
[00:14:09] But in that scenario, they were trying to say it’s the mom’s fault. She contributed, she’s at fault, she wasn’t watching her daughter.
[00:14:17] Comparative fault is where, i, it goes to a jury. the jury is presented with being able to provide a percentage of who they think is more at fault for causing an accident. For example, the questions usually on a verdict sheet is, “was the defendant negligent?” If they answer that yes — they might find, for example, that the defendant was negligent 1 percent, but they might find the plaintiff was a 100 percent or vice versa.
[00:14:42] They may say OK fine the plaintiff has, for example the mom may have had some comparative fault in not insuring the child safely exited the bus, but majority of the fault falls on the bus driver who was sitting up front and should have made sure to make sure that he does not close the door as a passenger is attempting to exit the bus. So in that scenario the jury is giving an option of providing a percentage of fault, and they may find the plaintiff and her mom at fault for 0 comparative, and say 100 percent of the fault is the fault of the bus company. But that’s what comparative fault is, for the jury to choose as to a percentage of fault that they think each party contributed.
Host: [00:15:24] Does it make a difference if somebody is in an industry — a pianist would be amputated or anybody really, but you know in that scenario where somebody makes their livelihood in a particularly significant way through their hands and they lose something like that. Does that come into play in how you pursue the recovery?
David Azizi: [00:15:42] Absolutely. When it gets the loss of income and — so the loss of income is called… there’s two aspect of it: past loss of income, future loss of income, and earning capacity. So if somebody gets injured and loses a finger and now as a result, until the case gets to trial or is resolved, how much income they’ve lost as a result of that incident is accounted for. What future loss they’re going to have, that gets accounted for. And what earning capacity means is, for example, like you said, you have somebody who’s a pianist who can play and compose and earn thousands and thousands of dollars. But now because of the injury, they’re not able to play piano anymore. So now, they might have to get another job or go into another field.
And what happens is you determine the earning capacity, which used to be for example: $100,000 per year this person used to earn, and now because of the… let’s say they’ve lost several fingers as a result of an amputation. They can’t play a piano anymore. So they have to go for a different career. And the best one based on their education and past background is to be able only earn $50,000 per year. So that, throughout their lifetime, gets accounted for and calculated as part of their loss and damages.
Host: [00:17:07] What can people expect as their first steps to go down this road?
David Azizi: [00:17:12] I consider myself to be more of a boutique law firm. And by that I mean, when a client calls the office I like to be involved as much as possible from the initial call. So if I’m available, my staff passes that person on to me. If it is a case that we can help the client with, right off the bat I let them have my cell phone because my attitude is, you’re hiring me, and I should be accessible and reachable to the client anytime they want. And if there’s a problem at the office that my staff can’t handle, I would like my client, who is retaining me, to be able to reach me.
As far as meeting, yes absolutely, we can meet at my office, or if the client sometimes might be in the hospital and is unable to get to my office, we can send somebody to the client with the necessary paperwork to get the ball rolling, as we discussed, to be able to collect all the evidence, get everything that’s needed. Because once I am retained then I can do all that stuff — I have the power and authority through the client, as their representative, to able to like, for example, ask for a police report. file a lawsuit right away, and things of that nature.
[00:18:22] And then hopefully once the client has gone to the point where they’re out of a hospital or the circumstance to where they are now able to meet me in person, then we can set up a time — either meet the client or have them come to my office so we can discuss further progress of the case.
Host: [00:18:39] If somebody has gone through the surgery but now they’re realizing, “oh man I shouldn’t really pursued legal matters here,” is there a standard statute of limitations that they need to keep in mind for these kinds of injury cases?.
David Azizi: [00:18:52] Yeah, you know, when it gets to the statute of limitations, I tell any prospective client there’s a whole slew of factors that you need to be able to look at. But just to give you an example, and that said I would say, it’s best to consult an attorney right away. And what I mean by that is, if it involves a medical malpractice where an amputation occurred, you have one year from the time of discovery that there’s been a malpractice to file a lawsuit, but a total of three years. So for example, let’s say somebody commits malpractice, medical malpractice — a year goes by, and then the second year is where you find out about it, you have a year from that second year to file a lawsuit.
[00:19:35] If two years go by and then you have learned about it on the second year, you have one year from that second year to the third or third year and all. But if you find out about it in the third year, but have a few days left, you could file a lawsuit. But if it’s passed that three years and you find out about a malpractice, the maximum amount is three years. If it involves a government entity, you have six months that you have to file a claim. If that time frame has gone by, sometimes you may be able to file a late claim and a judge may allow it to proceed. But technically, you have six months if it involves a governmental entity to pursue a claim.
[00:20:15] If it’s just a non-governmental entity, non-medical malpractice case, then you have two years per statute of limitation. If it’s a minor, they have until age 18. But then when it gets to government claims, it’s a different issue. So when it gets the statute, it’s a pretty complicated scenario. I can give you like I did the general prospect of how the statute limitations works, but depending on the scenario, the age of the person, the type of claim, it can make a huge difference.
Host: [00:20:49] Were there any last super common questions that you get over and over again from your clients in this area?
David Azizi: [00:20:57] No I think we’ve covered most of them. I mean they sometimes want to know how long is the process take which we already covered and what type of compensation are they going to get in terms of for their pain and suffering for the loss of the limb. And again I tell them that that all depends by each person. And to give you an example, if you have somebody who is 90 years old and they sustained an amputation, that person’s life expectancy may be based on the charts and of the 10 years. So you take that person’s life expectancy, the future medical care that’s necessary, and the future prostheses that they’re going to require and some of these prostheses like if you have… if your finger is amputated, you get a prosthesis you need to gently change them every two to three years.
So there’s a different figure that exists for a person who’s 90 years old versus a child who sustained an amputation and they’re going to be around involving the rest of their life, which is the larger timeframe. So for that reason it varies based on what the recovery is. But what I tell clients is, and then the liability of the case makes a difference. If you have a great liability, well great. If you have a difficult case and chances of winning at trial, then the percentage of what you would recover changes.
[00:22:29] And the best way to be able figure out that amount or estimate what that amount potentially could be is to talk to an experienced attorney who does amputation cases and based on past cases, he or she can give you an estimate of what the potential recovery will be.
Host: [00:22:47] If you have questions about amputation law or need a free consultation, contact David Azizi at AziziLawFirm.com.
[00:22:54] And here’s our legal disclaimer: This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever. If you have specific legal questions contact an attorney to discuss specific legal matters about your case. The attorneys of David Azizi operate in Los Angeles California. Listeners should note that legal services may be performed by others. Join us again on Answers with Azizi. Thanks for listening.