Margaret Slovak, motor vehicle accident involving a negligent driver
“I felt Steve really cared about me as a human being,” recalls Margaret Slovak. “I talked to other attorneys who seemed more concerned about the financial aspect. Steve genuinely wanted to help me. My case was rather complex but he made me feel like he wouldn’t walk away and leave me stranded. I’ve already recommended him to friends.”
When Margaret Slovak’s stopped car was rearended, the collision and resulting injuries threatened her life as a professional musician. For Slovak, playing guitar and composing music is more than making a living, it’s who she is. On January 6, 2003, she was on her way home from a doctor’s appointment when the collision occurred.
Slovak had been seeking treatment for pain and tightness in her neck and back. The force of the collision threw her right shoulder, arm and hand forward, her hand hitting against the steering wheel. For some time, her injuries from the collision forced her to stop playing guitar.
She gradually returned to playing though with a great deal of difficulty and pain. Steve Smucker’s job representing her was complicated by the pre-existing neck and back discomfort. However, he negotiated a settlement large enough to pay for her medical bills and many of the debts that had piled up while Slovak was unable to perform. You can learn more about Slovak and her music at www.margaretslovak.com.
Jon Gnass, pedestrian injured by unsecured load
“Steve educated, coached and prepared us intellectually and emotionally,” Jon says, “to minimize our anxiety with all the legal procedures and protocols. This helped instill in us a confidence to participate in the civil justice system. Steve kept us inspired and our spirits alive. This helped motivate us to continue to live life to its fullest. We were satisfied with the outcome of our case — we won!”
On the morning of December 20, 2001, Bend photographer Jon Gnass and his wife Karen were jogging south in the bike lane on Purcell Road near its intersection with Butler Market Road. A construction truck was heading north on Purcell with an unsecured 12-foot length of 2 x 8 lumber sticking out of the right side of his truck. As the truck passed the two joggers, the board struck Jon in the throat, knocking him backwards to the pavement where he struck his head. Gnass was in a coma for about a week and has no memory of what happened.
As a result of the collision with the unsecured board, Gnass suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Jon and Karen are devoted long distance runners. When Jon was injured they contacted Steve Smucker because they knew of him through running circles.
Smucker produced a compelling mini-documentary to tell Jon and Karen’s story for the Gnass mediation conference.
The mediation was successful and the Deschutes County judge who presided over the session said the resulting settlement was the largest he had seen in that county for a personal injury. The settlement is helping Jon and Karen adjust to the changes in their lives that are the result of Jon’s brain injury. You can find out about Jon’s photography at www.gnassphotoimages.com.
Sarah Proudman, motor vehicle accident involving a negligent driver
Sarah Proudman contacted PortlandLawyer.com and Steve Smucker following her involvement in an automobile accident on February 15, 2000 in North Portland. The driver who hit Proudman was clearly in the wrong — he’d been driving the wrong way on a one way street when his car collided with hers. As a result of the accident, Proudman suffered ruptured discs in her back, torn muscles in her neck, shoulders and buttocks, and severe headaches.
Jamie Gibb, motor vehicle accident involving a negligent driver
Gibb’s head inury was so severe she was unable to continue her job as a bus driver. Though her fellow workers helped create a job for her in the bus garage, she eventually became unemployed as a result of the accident. Because the negligent driver was uninsured, Gibb had to go to her own carrier for compensation.
Jennifer Camelio was riding as a passenger on July 18, 1996, when the car she was in was rearended by another vehicle. Camelio suffered injuries to her neck and back in the accident. The insurance company for the negligent driver refused to pay her claim — they took the position there was nothing wrong with her.
She selected Smucker as her attorney from seeing his ad in the Yellow Pages. It turned out to be a good choice.
When the case went before a jury, Camelio says Smucker showed a great deal of emotion in court and brought jurors around to her side. Attorneys for the insurance company showed jurors photos of the car Camelio was riding in — looking undamaged. They used that photo and testimony of doctors to try and prove Camelio had not suffered any injuries in the accident, that any medical problems were the result of some “previous infirmity.” Smucker explained to the jury that his client was 21 years old and had previously been in perfect health. Jurors became outraged at the defense attorneys’ tactics. They awarded Camelio $80,000 in damages. The final settlement offer from the insurance company had been $10,000.
Lori Kirby was driving her mini-van on North Killingsworth in Portland when the driver of a pickup truck ran a red light, smashing into the mini-van. The crash broke Kirby’s left arm. She suffered a permanent limitation in the range of motion for her left thumb and wrist. A permanent metal plate and screws were put in her arm to aid in healing of the arm.
Smucker took the case to trial on December 17, 2002. While on one of his regular daily workout runs, he had been pondering how to best describe the severity of his client’s fracture to a jury. He spied a dry tree branch in the trail. He picked up the stick and took it to his office.
Following the accident, Kirby returned to her job at the Oregon Humane Society where she works with the dogs and trains Society volunteers.