Is it a “Frivolous Lawsuit”? – A Case Study (Pt. 1)

A Case Study: Is it a “Frivolous Lawsuit”?  (Part 1)

By Ryan J. Tomalas, Esq.

We’ve all heard it … “We need ‘tort reform’ to prevent ‘frivolous lawsuits.’”

As personal injury lawyers in California we know that most of our jury pool is “against” us and our clients from the moment we enter a courtroom.  Many people believe that most lawsuits are “frivolous”.  To give you a different perspective we are using an actual case that we are currently handling to present you with a Case Study.  (Driver’s names have been changed, but the photographs, facts and figures are 100% accurate.)

Here are the facts:

Our client “Paula” was involved in a collision involving 3 vehicles.  “Paula” was stopped at a STOP sign at an intersection when “DeAnne” attempted to make a left turn directly in the path of a vehicle driven by “Tom.”  “Tom” had the right-of-way.  “Tom” and “DeAnne’s” vehicles collided with such force that it caused “Tom’s” vehicle to veer off and slam into “Paula’s” stopped vehicle.  The impact to “Paula’s” door was so hard that her airbags deployed and her vehicle was pushed backwards approximately 25’.

  • DeAnne was found at fault and was issued a citation.
  • DeAnne was insured by Mercury. Paula was insured by The Auto Club.
  • Paula’s vehicle was a total loss, valued at almost $30,000.00.
  • Paula treated at Urgent Care that day for headaches and pain in her shoulder, neck and back.
  • 9 days later Paula saw her family doctor and was referred to chiropractic care and physical therapy.
  • When her pain persisted after weeks of treatment her doctor ordered MRIs of her neck and back.
  • Paula remained in treatment for approximately 3½ months and was released with on-going (but manageable) back and neck pain.
  • Paula attended 25 different medical and therapy appointments, which she estimates took over 50 hours of her time.
  • Paula’s medical bills total $10,575.00.
  • Paula carries health insurance, but she has a $5,000.00 deductible, which she could not afford. As such, most of her medical bills remain unpaid.

Our office sent Paula’s medical records and bills to Mercury and asked for Mercury to pay our client’s bills ($10,575.00) and an additional $21,500.00 for her pain and suffering and her time, effort and energy.

Mercury offered $11,000.00 TOTAL to settle Paula’s case.

Paula’s only options are to either accept Mercury’s offer or to file a lawsuit.  (Spoiler alert: We recently filed a lawsuit.)  Do you consider the filing of a lawsuit on Paula’s behalf to be “frivolous”?  Who do you “blame” for the need for this litigation?

Check back in a few months for Part 2.  We welcome your thoughts or questions regarding this case study.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident call  the Tomalas Law Firm at 949.756.8711 or visit our website at for a no-obligation/free consultation.



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