By Vanessa Van Petten
When personal injury victims are left struggling for their rights in the complicated legal process, Mark C. Blane offers a safe haven of guidance and expert support. In his San Diego based practice, Blane has made an art of protecting and defending victims of personal injury and winning cases that have been highlighted in major national publications and legal journals including the ABA Journal, San Diego Business Journal, National Jurist Magazine, and the Shreveport Times- Louisiana. Blane has also become a leading authority on demystifying the law for the public as an author of nine legal titles, including the best seller A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, the groundbreaking book that has uncovered the well-kept secrets of the health insurance industry.
Blane’s passion for helping personal injury victims blossomed in his youth when his mother worked for a personal injury attorney. “I realized then that personal injury work was a perfect blending of two things that I love—medicine and law. I also knew that I wanted to work with victims who desperately need help, but do not know where to go,” says Blane. After studying Psychology and Criminal Justice at Louisiana State University, he then received his law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
Blane dedicated his career to fighting for the underrepresented individual against major corporations including Johnson & Johnson and Merck. He has also had successes in landmark cases of personal injury when he litigated against Amercian Home Products, Inc., who created the drug Fen-Phen, Metabolife, Inc., the makers of the diet drug Ephdra and in 2001 he was one of the first plaintiff attorneys to settle against Ford/Firestone for their defective tires.
As a leading defender of victims of negligence he has helped recover millions of dollars for his clients. He works tirelessly to gain fair compensation for clients to cover their medical expenses from catastrophic losses due to defective products, accidents, automobile and motorcycle collisions and even slips and falls. However, his successes are hard earned; Blane is often pitted against major insurance companies and some of the largest defense law firms.
Despite imposing opponents, Blane advocates for the common man and insists on working on a contingency basis—only charging a fee when wins a case so there is no financial risk for his clients. “It is said that the contingency fee is the poor man’s key to the court house. I truly believe in giving everyone an opportunity to get justice—without having to pay money up front.” Blane is adamant about contingency fees so that his clients know he has a great incentive to work hard for them and win their case, empowering victims to recover the money they deserve for their injuries. Blane explains, “An insurance company will often promise an injured victim a small settlement for their case. Yet, this barely covers their expenses or the extent of their injury. We fight for them to help them get the justice they deserve.” In one of Blane’s recent cases, a client came in with $1000 promised in writing, but after working on the case they were able to win $30,000 from the negligent party.
Many personal injury lawyers find correct medical documentation as well as proficient comprehension of the medical aspects of each case challenging. Mastering these areas has been Blane’s secret weapon. He is one of the few personal injury trial attorneys in the United States who is an expert on utilizing “Whole Person” impairment ratings under the AMA (American Medical Association) Fifth Edition—an objective medical assessment tool that is used world-wide to document the extent of medical impairment of victims. “You have to be able to communicate with doctors and understand the impairment to a particular body part and then be able to document it correctly to communicate it effectively to a claims adjuster or jury,” Blane explains. He has taken personal injury review to a whole new level, setting a new standard of care for researching, documenting, communicating and successfully getting justice for his clients.
In his best selling book, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Blane shares his discovery of how over 70% of insurance companies in the United States covertly use computer programs to come up with settlement values. Blane exposes how these programs can skew the amount of money a victim deserves. If the insurance company or claims adjuster forgets or ignores important medical evidence, settlement values are thrown off—almost always to the detriment of the injured party. “My job is to make sure that if insurance companies are using this software as their only measurement tool, they input all the correct values. I know which questions to ask and what numbers are often ‘forgotten,’ by adjusters,” Blane says. By giving this information to the public, Blane further empowers victims to know how the process of settlement values works—freeing the consumer from being totally reliant on the insurance companies and making his work more transparent.
As a champion of consumers, Blane has authored nine books to educate victims on the personal injury legal process. When Blane saw the success of Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, he learned that many victims are overwhelmed with the working of the law and had nowhere to turn. His books, some of which are available for free on his website, help victims feel taken care of and make sure they understand all of the intricacies of their cases. “I realized by writing books I was able to help more people than just my clients. I am able to give away information to people if they cannot afford a lawyer and help them make informed decisions. That idea sang to me.”
Blane has worked hard to make sure his books not only cover topics that are extremely relevant to his clients and answer their most pressing questions, but also empower them to stand up to large insurance companies. His book topics range from animal attack legal guides to California slip and fall injury case procedures. His books also provide invaluable information on case strategy. For example, in his book, The Ultimate California Drunk Driving Accident Legal Survival Book, Blane explains that many victims of drunk driving accidents in California do not realize that they can pursue the drunk driver both criminally and civilly. This means that a victim can track the perpetrator in criminal courts and get special priority in their cases. In Blane’s book, Justice for the Injured Child: A Parent’s Legal Survival Guide for Their Child’s California Injury Case, he tells parents that they can get special protections for their children in court, including requesting a referee on behalf of the judge during depositions.
Blane not only has books for personal injury victims, but also writes for Doctors who want to understand how to best document their patient’s medical impairment while going through litigation. Some of Blane’s specialties are injuries of the Brain and Spinal Cord, including Loss Motion Segment Integrity of the Vertebrae which are severe ligament injuries. His ability to document and then present the injuries to a claims adjuster or jury in an easy to understand format has been an integral part of his success rate in cases. Through this process he has had to work closely with doctors and chiropractors and realized that many of these medical professionals are not taught in medical school how to document their patient’s case to get them the settlement they need to cover expenses. In his book, How to Effectively Document Your Patient’s Personal Injury Case From A-Z, Blane expertly explains the process for Doctors, shedding light on a previously murky process.
Book by book, case by case, Blane is giving the power back to victims who have been injured. His unique background has also enabled him to work and understand clients of all cultures. Before moving to Louisiana, Blane was born in Bremerhaven, Germany. This gave him insight into two distinctly different cultures and most importantly, prompted his affinity for foreign languages. Blane is fluent in both German and Spanish, allowing him to work with many non-English speaking clients who might have been unable to find representation in their native language. His fluency enabled him to help one German mother recover money to pay for medical expenses when her two-year-old daughter was injured while playing in an unsafe kids area of a large furniture company. In Southern California, his Spanish skills are also invaluable in giving proper aid to Spanish speaking clients who are desperate for legal representation—this population in fact makes up about 15% of his practice.
Blane’s contributions move beyond his legal offices into the broader community of San Diego. He is the proud recipient of the Wiley W. Manuel Award from the State Bar of California for dedicated Pro Bono work in 2002 and 2003. He has also volunteered with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer program and the San Diego County Bar Association. “I love helping future lawyers by participating in alumni activities at my law school. We have even set up a tent with Consumer Attorneys in San Diego to give free legal advice to the public.” Many marvel at his ability to balance both his legal practice while also finding the time to write nine books. His commitment to playing tennis, weightlifting, practicing yoga and hiking the lush hills of Southern California has also helped him balance his high paced professional life.
The most essential element of Blane’s successful track record is his dedication to ensuring every victim gets help. Victims of personal injury are often dealing with both mental and physical anguish. He works to get injured parties the proper care so they can get back to their lives. Blane says, “I believe everyone is deserving of good legal counsel. Injury lawyers are like public watchdogs, making sure companies and corporations take responsibility for the injuries they cause and bringing justice to those who have been wronged.”