Attorney Brett Panter Resolves Holiday Accident Case
BY LINDA RODRIGUEZ BERNFELDPINECREST TRIBUNE: August 7 – 20, 2006
On New Year’s Day, 78-year-old Lili Knize went to see a holiday lights display at a home on Southwest 104th Street and 72nd Avenue. Her family remained in the car while Knize stepped out to look at the colorful lights.
“She was in the street with about 60 other people,” says attorney Brett Panter . “She was looking at the lights.”
Knize was close to the curb when she was hit by a car driven by Donald Sobol, 81, who was traveling at 30 miles an hour.
“He never slowed down,” Panter says. “I speculate he was looking at the lights. He was cited with careless driving and exceeding the safe speed under the circumstances.”
Knize suffered catastrophic injuries that put her in the hospital for three months and she continues to need treatment and surgery. She has multiple rib fractures, pulmonary contusions, a lacerated spleen, a pelvis fracture, a tibia fracture; her left ankle was fractured along with numerous other injuries. She required blood transfusions along with respiratory therapy and a tracheal intubation.
Panter was able to resolve the case without having to resort to a trial. Sobol’s insurance company, Nationwide Property and Casualty Insurance Co., settled quickly.
“They did tender the entire $2.3 million,” he says. “I proved this case. I busted my chops. The average case takes two to three years.”
Knize’s insurance company came back and also settled for another $250,000, the amount not covered by Nationwide.
For his negotiations with the Nationwide adjustor, Panter put together a “day in the life” piece for the insurance company
to show that Knize was not your average 78 year old. She had an active lifestyle that was severely curtailed by the accident.
“The facts had to be in place and we had to artfully present them,” he says. “We used all of our resources – accident investigators, aerial photographs.”
Panter considered the ramifications of the case and whether he should sue more than just the insurance company, but opted only to file against Sobol’s insurance company.
“I want people to know that these are great things (the Christmas light displays) and they should continue, but people have to be on a higher alert,” Panter says. “Please go slow. We want people to be safe, more alert.”
Today, Knize has some surgery ahead of her, but Panter says she’s doing as well as one could hope under the circumstances.
“She’s in a wheelchair still,” he says. “She’s a great lady. It’s our hope one day she will be out of the wheelchair.”
Panter has already lectured about the case and used it in a talk about how to negotiate in an ethical manner.
“I’m a very aggressive advocate,” Panter says. “It was just me and a high-level adjustor. I was very proud of the result and happy for the client.”