Product Liability Case Results

Defective Product/Propane Burn Injury – Two employees at a San Marcos manufacturing facility were severely burned during the refueling of a propane-fueled forklift. The mens' employer contracted with a welding company to provide bulk amounts of propane for the forklifts. The welding company in turn subcontracted with a propane company to put a large bulk propane storage tank on the manufacturer’s property. The propane company placed the bulk-storage tank in a clearly unsafe location, in a poorly ventilated area far too close to several potential sources of ignition, including a water heater with an open flame. The propane company also failed to provide the company with the proper shutoff valve at the end of the filler hose. The valve failed to contain any mechanism to safely bleed or vent the remnant gas that normally is stuck between the small cylinder and the closed filler hose. During the routine re-fueling of a forklift, two of the manufacturer’s employees were injured when large amounts of propane were released, forming a cloud of the flammable gases around the area. The two men tried desperately to turn off the main valve at the base of the storage tank, but propane gas continued to leak from the smaller portable tank. Seconds later the propane ignited. There was a large flash fire, and both men were seriously burned. They were transferred via helicopter from the scene to the UCSD Medical Center Burn Unit where they remained hospitalized for several weeks. After intensive discovery uncovered multiple acts of negligence on the part of the defendants, the firm was able to obtain a $2,500,000.00 settlement on behalf of the two employees.

Tire Defect/Wrongful Death of Professional Athlete - On July 29, 2001, while traveling westbound on Interstate 10 through Indio, California, 21-year-old plaintiff, along with his 18-year-old best friend as passenger, experienced an unexpected catastrophic right-rear tire blow-out which caused the vehicle in which they were traveling to veer off the highway, rolling over numerous times. During the roll-over sequence, both young men were thrown from the vehicle and died. At the time of the incident, the 21-year-old plaintiff was one of the top pitching prospects in all of Major League Baseball. Berman & Walton, LLP, represented the parents of the 21-year-old professional athlete, filing suit against several defendants, including the installer of the tire, the manufacturer of the tire, and the distributors of the tire for the wrongful death of their son due to catastrophic tire failure. In addition to wrongful death damages, Attorney William Berman claimed the parents were entitled to compensatory damages under a Loss of Contribution theory of recovery. In support of this difficult and seldom-advanced claim, Mr. Berman relied upon the testimony of several respected baseball executives, including renowned Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane, to support the contention that the deceased athlete had a substantial likelihood of advancing to, and having a successful career at, the major league level. The case settled after two full days of mediation with defendants agreeing to pay decedent’s parents a total of $6,842,857.10 in resolution of their claims.

Products Liability/Burn Injury - A 36-year-old man suffered third-degree burns to portions of his right and left arms after a chemical explosion in a San Diego commercial building. The explosion occurred when vapors ignited while the man was removing a new flooring epoxy he had recently applied, but which had failed to harden. The firm was able to establish that the manufacturer of the epoxy mislabeled the epoxy containers. Due to this mislabeling, the epoxy contained no catalyst, and would not harden. This created a dangerous condition which led to the explosion. Through litigation, the firm was able to secure a settlement for plaintiff and his wife in the amount of $225,000.00.

Products Liability/Premises Liability - A 24-year-old businessman from outside San Diego was staying at a hotel during a local convention. He suffered third-degree chemical burns to his legs and groin area minutes after entering the hotel’s spa, causing him pain and severe discomfort for several weeks. Because there was nothing the doctors could do other than prescribe a topical lotion, total medical bills in the case were less than $225.00. Through litigation, the firm was able to demonstrate that the spa had been poorly maintained by the hotel and its maintenance company. The case resolved shortly before trial with a settlement of $45,000.00.

Products Liability/Premises Liability - A 94-year-old shopper sustained severe injuries in a San Diego department store when she fell while using an escalator. the firm learned the city had recently issued a “red-tag” on the escalator, and had ordered that the escalator be removed from service. In addition, it was learned that three weeks prior to the incident, the city cited the department store for nine safety violations related to the escalator. Despite this history, the department store and its elevator service company failed to correct the problems and knowingly placed the defective escalator back into service. The case was settled at a mediation for $275,000.00.

Disclaimer: Case results as reported above were derived based upon facts and circumstances specific to each separately reported case and publication of such case results is for informational purposes only and by no means is intended to constitute any representation or guarantee of a similar result for your prospective case.


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Jean’s mother was a victim of neglect while at a skilled nursing facility, resulting in surgery that she did not survive. Berman was there to listen and provide support that the client needed.
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Michele’s mother suffered a wrongful death at a California nursing home. William M. Berman and the attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP helped litigate the case with successful results.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

  • Your total financial or economic damages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact of your injuries on your daily life
  • The strength of your case
  • Whether you share fault for your accident
  • Insurance policy limits 

Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

The vast majority of cases are resolved by reaching a settlement agreement outside of court. Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial, but it is more likely if the facts in your case are in dispute, a legal issue is being contested, or you have a high-value case.

An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

Do You Accept Cases Outside of San Diego?

While our law office is located in San Diego, Berman & Riedel, LLP, accepts cases throughout the state of California.


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