Skip to main content
Christopher E. Russell
Avvo
Pro

Christopher Russell’s Answers

12 total


  • Why is it that a Lawyer will not take my medical malpractice case ?

    My son was orally injected with another child vaccine while we were doing a follow up on jaundice . He was only days old and the Rota virus vaccine was administered to him . He ran a fever of 105 . Now that he is 2 he is severely compromised an...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You can sue if an expert doctor supports your belief that your son's condition was caused by the first doctor's conduct. However, these claims are very expensive to pursue and because the attorneys' fees are limited (pls Google "MICRA California") there are not very many good law firms that will take a chance of spending $50,000 in costs on a case like this for a limited fee. That is exactly what the medical community and Insurance Industry wanted to accomplish when they duped Jerry Brown into signing fee cap legislation back in 1975. Jerry Brown is on record now saying that was the worse piece of leglislation he signed during his first stint at being Governor yet he has not lifted a finger to do anything to change or overturn that legislation and appears to be more concerned about building his legacy, one bullet train at a time. In my opinion he will go down as the Governor who signed the worst piece of anti-consumer legislation ever signed by a sitting Governor and moreover he is the Governot who is the Godfather of the Tort Reform movement. I am not sure that is the legacy that he is shooitn for but that is the legacy he has created for himself. The first thing I would do if I was you would be to get your son to a specialist who can weigh in on whether what took place when he was newly born is what caused his current condition. If you can get a doctor to say yes, that will go a long way in convincing an attorney to get involved. I am sorry for what you and your son are going through and I wish you good luck. (P.S. If you are upset, which you should be, write a letter to the Governor, your State Senator and your State Assemblyman the difficulty you are having in getting an attorney to even look at the case with the response being that MICRA prevents all attorneys from getting involved.)

    See question 
  • I was in an accident with someone who had insurance at the time of the accident but when he disagreed with his insurance

    about 2 years into the claim and after we filed suit he withdrew from the insurance and is now paying for his own defense. Apparently he signed off on defense and indemnity. Is this person now an uninsured motorist? At the very least he would b...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Weird deal. Something is amiss here. Who in their right mind would pay inruance premiums for years upon years and then when it is time to pay out on a claim and to provide a legal defense the individual says "nevermind, I will pay for everything". If Bill Gates or Warren Buffet were not the ones who hit you, then there is something else that is going on and this may actually be an uninsured motorist claim. If you are not represented (which you should be), I would ask the defendant's carrier to put in writing why they are no longer involved in the claim. If they won't cooperate and the defendant is not forthcoming with more information, you have no choice but to file a lawsuit in order to be able to take the deposition of the defendant under oath and get down to the bottom of this unusual dilemma.

    See question 
  • My personal injury case was settled July 2011. My lawyer put $110,000.00 in a trust account to satisfy medical liens.

    Should this process take 1 year and 7 months?

    Christopher’s Answer

    If Medicare is involved that time frame may not be unreasonable. If Medicare is not involved then you are entitled to answers as to why the process is taking so long and I would request that those answers being writing either via letter or e-mail. Some of the information I would like to see is what are the total medical bills outstanding, is the attorney attempting to negotiate medical liens, copies of any corresepondence between the attorney and the medical providers, if there were no reductions how much would be put in your pocket, what reduction has the attorney requested from each of the medical providers, which medical providers have agreed to reductions and has the attorney taken out of the trust account his fees and costs and if so how much is left in trust. That should get you on the right path. I would give the attorney a deadline by which he needs to respond IN WRITING so you can start getting some answers. If the attorney does not respond by that date, I would give him one more deadline and if that deadline comes and goes without the communication you need, a State Bar complaint should be filed.

    See question 
  • I was injured in a slip and fall accident 2 wks ago. I thought pain would get better, but hasn't. Is it to late to file claim?

    I was waiting in a hospital emergency room for my boyfriend to be seen when I slipped in something clear, wet, and slimy. I recovered in time to not go all the way to he floor, but in doing so twisted my already bad knee and ankle. The nurse at th...

    Christopher’s Answer

    No it is not too late but you shoulds report it immediateley, go to the doctor and go back to the hospital at about the same time and day of the week to locate the nurse who you saw to get her name and to remind her of what had taken place so she can be contacted by hosptial risk management. When you put the hospital on notice make sure you request that they preserve any pictures or video that were taken on that day. Consult with an attorney now for further information especially if it appears your pain is not abating.

    Christopher Russell

    See question 
  • Should I seek an attorney to negotiate rear-end accident settlement? (~5k car damage & injuries)

    I was struk from behind by the son of a driver who stopped short in front of me. The act seemed malicious but the driver was not charged with assault. His Insurance Co has accepted liability but won't negoitiate the settlement without me making s...

    Christopher’s Answer

    Please do your self a favor and retain a good Trial Attorney who belongs to CAOC or CAALA. The two main complicating issues on your claim are your pre-exisitng condition and your on-going residual problems. Please retain counsel now before you do something, say something or sign something that destroys or significantly affects the value of your claim as most people who attempt to handle their own claims usually do. Take it from an attorney who has handled over 5000 claims and who normally will not handle a claim if the indivdual has handle their own claim for a while because usually by then the claim has been severely compromised. Your claim may have great value if handled properly as you may be the classic thin egg shell plaintiff who may have per deim damages for the rest of your life. The insurance companies don't want you to get an attorney because their internal numbers tell them they will pay out 2 to 10 times more when competent legal counsel is involved. Abrahma Lincoln once said that "...a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client". Don't be that fool. The insurance company will oblige you however and laugh all the way to the bank if you insist.

    Christopher Russell
    Russell & Lazarus APC

    See question 
  • Is having a lawyer a good idea when the at fault driver is uninsured and I will be seeking a settlement from my own ins company?

    29 y.o. son injured when a drunk (Bal .242), revoked license, uninsured driver crossed center line on hwy. Son taken by ambulance, xrays, glass removed from face, head and arm. No broken bones. Car totalled. Almost 3 months later, he is still s...

    Christopher’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    If your Uninsured Motorist policy limits are $25,000 your son may not need an attorney for the carrier to tender the Uninsured Motorist limits. However, there are many ways your son can be penny wise and pound foolish for not hiring an attorney since a good personal injury attorney can make all the difference in the world in regards to what ends up in your son's pocket escpecially if your health insurance company wants reimbursement for the medical bills it may have paid.

    If your UM limits exceed $25,000, he should hire an attorney since he is in an adversarial relationship (he wants money, the carrier wants to get away with giving out as little as possible) with the carrier and it is no different if the carrier he was dealing with was the carrier for the responsible party.

    Unfortunatley many victims of accidents think that because it is their own carrier and they have been paying premiums for years, they will get a fair shake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Insurance companies are in business to make money not to be nice. Your agent who sold you policy and the adjuster handling the claim have two completely different roles. The sooner a victim realizes that, the better.

    I have had too many people call me over the last 28 years and inform me of the piddly settlement they got from their own carrier which obligagted them to sign a release not knowing they just gave up thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars ( and in a couple of cases hundreds of thousands of dollars) because the "adjuster really seemed to like me". By the time they call me it is too late.

    In your son's case he broke no bones but is still having pain. Fairly soon his carrrier is going to start questioning his treatment and declare that his treatment should have concluded long ago and that any pain he is stiil suffering is only because he wants money. Your son, at a minimum, should consult with a good Trial Attorney who belongs to the Consumer Attorneys of California or the American Association of Justice, sooner than later.

    My firm normally does not represent people injured in accidents if they have attempted to represent themselves for any significant period of time since my experience is that they have usually signed something or said something of have done something to critically impact the claim in a negative way.

    It costs no money to consult with a good attorney, so why not do that. Hopefully this helps you with your situation. I hope your son has a strong recovery and that he gets fair compensation for all his past, present and future suffering.

    Christopher Russell
    Russell & Lazarus APC

    See question 
  • Does California have a law controlling the disbursement time of a settlement?

    My attorney settled a slip-and-fall case against a municipality. The agreement was made at the mandatory settlement conference. For some reason, the agreement did not include a payment date, but their atty said it would be disbursed within 30 days...

    Christopher’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    50 days is excessive even for a Municipality. Your attorney should write a letter and request a date certain by when the check will be delivered. If he gets no response within a reasonable period of time or if the response is "we don't know when we will get you the check" your attorney should then file a Motion to Enforce Settlement under Code of Civil Procedure section 664.6. Tremendous pain in the neck when this takes place but you will probably see the check magically appear once the motion is filed and served on the attorney for the Municipality.

    I wish you good luck.

    Christopher Russell
    Russell & Lazarus APC

    See question 
  • They want to subpoena my medical records for my personal injury case but there's some really damaging info in my medical file

    can I somehow block them from getting these records? I said that my left knee was injured in a car accident, but I also had surgery to my left knee a few years ago. They have just sent out release forms and also notices to consumer for my medica...

    Christopher’s Answer

    The medical records that they are attempting to obtain must be relevant to the injuries in the accident that you are pursuing. Your attorney should file a motion to quash the subpena by way of C.C.P. §§ 1987.1 and 1985.3(g) if it is overbroad which they always are. You are entitled to your privacy under the Calif. Const. Art. 1, § 1. and Britt v. Sup.Ct. (San Diego Unified Port Dist.) (1978) 20 Cal.3d 844, 855-856. Your attorney just needs to do his job properly in order to limit what the defense can access. The burden is on the defense to show why any other documents in your medical file are relevant to the action. They will not be able to meet that burden if you attorney makes a timely objection. If the attorneys cannot agree as to what documents should be produced, then the defense is obligated to go into court and the judge will make an "in camera" (behind closed doors) ruling after reviewing the documents as to which documents are relevant to the action. The burden is on the defense to convince the judge that their position is correct which gives you a tremendous advantage when the court reviews the position of both parties.

    I hope this helps. I wish you good luck.

    Christopher Russell
    Russell & Lazarus APC

    See question 
  • What can I do if I missed the 10 day deadline to submit a (SR-1) to the DMV? What type of penalties am I looking at?

    I was involved in an accident a year ago, damages past the $750 dollar limit for property damages in the state of California and completely failed to send out a (SR-1) to the DMV. My license renewal is up in 2016.

    Christopher’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    If the other party did not file an SR-1 form the DMV will not be aware of the accident. If hte other party did file an SR-1 form, the DMV should have sent to you a letter asking for you to submit an SR-1 form. If you fail to submit the form within 30 days of receiving the letter from the DMV, your license will be supended for 1 year since the DMV then assumes that you had no insurance at the time of the accident. You can now check with the DMV if your license has been suspended. If it has not been suspended, then the other party never filed his/her SR-1 form and you are off the hook. If your license has been revoked it is a simple matter of going down to the DMV, proving you had insurance on the date of the accident and having the supension lifted. The DMV may want you to fill out an SR-1 form right then but usually they don't care if the accident took place more than one year ago. I have handling personal injury claims exclusively for 28 years and I have never heard of anyone ever being prosecuted for failing to file an SR-1 form. The worst that usually takes place is that the license is supended until proof of insurance has been provided.

    I wish you good luck.

    Christopher Russell
    Russell & Lazarus APC

    See question 
  • Auto insurance company requested for SS number after I filed a 3rd party claim letter due to PI - Should I give it?

    The auto insurance requested for my social security number (or HICN number, which I do not have) after I sent a third party claim letter due to a car accident personal injury. The fault is on the other party. No argument there. The letter state...

    Christopher’s Answer

    You should NEVER give your Social Security number to an auto insurance company who represents a party that may have caused you harm. Under federal law, Medicare is entitled to be reimbursed for its payment of medical bills related to injuries sustained in an injury causing incident if compensation for the injuires is obtained from the party causing the incident or his/her insurance carrier. Although the federal government now requires that liability carriers report settlements, a letter sent to the carrier indicating that no beneifts were paid and that you will not disclose your Social Security number as a result of the privacy privlege provided by our State Constitution, is sufficient. A colleague of mine recently had this issue come up in court after settlement of a claim. The defense actually made a motion to obtain the Social Security number. Pasting from the decision of the Judge that was posted by my colleague, the Court denied the motion by stating:
    1. YOUR CLIENT (INDIVIDUAL DEFENDANT) HAS NO REPORTING REQUIREMENTS PER THE STATUTE, SO IT DOES NOT APPLY.
    2. THE FEDERAL STATUTE IS IN DIRECT CONTRADICTION TO THE DISCOVERY STANDARDS OF OUR STATE.
    3. THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS DO NOT REQUIRE YOU TO OBTAIN THE SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, BUT MERELY TO REPORT THE SETTLEMENT.
    4. AS FAR AS PROTECTING THE MEDICARE REQUIREMENTS, THERE ARE THINGS THE DEFENDANT CAN DO UPON SETTLEMENT TO ASSURE THAT MEDICARE IS INFORMED.

    So don't be duped by the carrier. Providing the carrier your Social Security is a tremendous invasion of privacy as it will use the information to look into areas of your life where it has no business being, especially if you provide that information prior to resolution of the claim.

    If the injuries were significant and/or will have caused you pain for more than 30 days, you should consult a personal injury trial attorney as this will be the first of many questions you will have where you will not get an accurate answer from the adverse carrier. The carrier has an obligation to do right by its shareholders and not by you. My office typically will not get involved in a claim where someone has represented themselves for any significant period of time since the party representing him/herself has usually substantially harmed the claim by doing something, saying something or signing something at the direction of the insurance carrier. Please keep that in mind as you attempt to navigate your own claim without the assistance of legal counsel. The carriers play for keeps and it is a zero sum game and you are their target.

    I wish you good luck.

    Christopher Russell
    Russell & Lazarus APC

    See question