Seema Bhatt Helps Car Crash Victim Win Arbitration Award More than Triple Original Offer

Seema Bhatt Helps Car Crash Victim Win Arbitration Award More than Triple Original Offer

Our personal injury attorneys at Minami Tamaki LLP do not hesitate to go to arbitration or trial when insurance companies don’t treat our clients fairly.

Our client, a 40-year-old journalist, suffered neck, back, shoulder, and arm injuries after another driver broadsided him. After four years of treatment with a chiropractor and other practitioners, he still suffered pain and residual injury.

Our client’s total economic damages for medical treatment and lost wages were $60,000. State Farm’s top settlement offer was $79,000, which did not adequately compensate our client for his pain and suffering. Because State Farm refused to pay fair value, Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Associate Seema Bhatt took his case to underinsured motorist arbitration.

One of the major disputes at the arbitration hearing was how our client’s complaints of neck and shoulder pain and stiffness could have lasted to the present. State Farm’s orthopedic expert testified that soft tissue injuries rarely become chronic, that much of our client’s discomfort was due to his preexisting neck and shoulder injuries, and that no further medical treatment was necessary due to the crash.

Our orthopedic expert cited studies showing soft tissue injuries can become chronic, and testified this was a high-speed collision involving two impacts, which caused our client to suffer two “whiplash-type” injuries. In addition, our client’s prior injuries were not serious or likely to be the cause of his current pain. Our expert also testified our client would have permanent residual injuries and would need further treatment for three years.

Based on our presentation, arbitrator Richard Phelps awarded our client $215,632 in damages, plus $32,000 in costs for exceeding our CCP section 998 offer to settle, for a total award of $247,632, which was more than triple State Farm’s settlement offer.

The attorneys in Minami Tamaki’s Personal Injury Practice Group fight for the rights of people who are injured or have suffered the loss of loved ones due to the carelessness of others. If you need assistance with a personal injury matter, contact Mark Fong or Seema Bhatt at 415-788-9000 or online at

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