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Orange County Bar Association

Orange County Military Lawyer

Will Bruzzo is a former Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and his personal injury practice has an emphasis on representing military members to include active duty, reservist, retired and their family members. This is because military members tend to have more physically demanding jobs then civilians, which makes their ability to make a living more vulnerable to injuries which occur as a result of accidents. Most Judges, Opposing Counsel, Insurance Adjustors and Jurors may not understand that even if you “fly a desk” in the military you must still perform to a certain level on the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and/or Combat Fitness Test (CFT). This problem is even more pronounced when the military member is a part of the infantry or some other equally physically demanding unit. As such, Mr. Bruzzo’s background is especially helpful to members of the military and thus it is the emphasis of his personal injury practice.

That being said, Mr. Bruzzo also accepts cases from individuals who have no connection to the military. All telephonic consults with Mr. Bruzzo are without charge.

This is what you need to know about your LEGAL RIGHTS AFTER A CAR OR MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT.

If you are involved in a car or motorcycle accident and you suffer damage to your vehicle and/or damage to your body or other losses resulting from the accident you can demand compensation for your DAMAGES from the other parties involved in the accident.


Defined as property (vehicle) damage; injury to your body or someone else’s body in the vehicle; pain and suffering resulting from the accident; loss of wages from time spent healing from the accident; loss of a job because of the accident; loss of retirement benefits because of the accident and any other damages. Basically, the other party is responsible for any loss you incur because of the accident.

YOU MAY RECOVER DAMAGES IN CALIFORNIA EVEN IF YOU ARE MOSTLY OR PARTIALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCIDENT. This is because California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that you can sue the other party for your damages even if you are 99% responsible for the accident. However, your damage award may be reduced by the amount of negligence (aka failure to act reasonably) you committed. 

Property Damage

Refers to the damage to your vehicle or any other property which suffered damages because of the accident.

Bodily Injury Damages

You are entitled to recover the costs of your medical treatment EVEN IF YOUR MEDICAL INSURANCE PAID ALL OF THE BILLS. However, your medical insurance provider may also be entitled to recover some or all of the money they spent on your medical treatment. Part of your lawyer’s job is to negotiate with the medical insurance company once a settlement amount is reached. The medical provider for military members is the United States Government. The Government is generally less concerned with recovering money it has spent on medical costs associated with a service member then private sector medical insurance providers. So military members have an advantage in this area and tend to keep more of their awarded damages. Attorney Will Bruzzo has experience negotiating with the Government to maximize the client’s reward.

Pain and Suffering Damages

Pain and suffering refers to compensation for the actual pain you feel as a result of an accident. This means that you are compensated not just for the medical costs but also for the pain you experienced resulting from the accident. This particular sort of damages may be the largest form of damages you receive. This is because sometimes the individual may suffer permanent injury and pain resulting from an accident for which treatment may not be available or effective. 

For an example, if you fracture your arm due to an accident and receive treatment which consists of a cast for 6 weeks your medical bills may not be very high. However, if the pain resulting from the fracture was especially bad OR the fracture was in a place that continued to cause pain for months or years, you are entitled to compensation for the past pain, the current pain and projected future pain. So the damages you receive for pain and suffering in some instances may far exceed your medical bills. 

Back injuries are an example where actual treatment may be slight or ineffective but where the pain and suffering is significant. This is because back injuries are often difficult to diagnosis and to treat. Oftentimes surgery may not be an option OR there may be an instance where even a successful surgery still leaves lingering pain and discomfort. You are entitled to damages for all pain and suffering, past, current and future even if most of your treatment consists of massage or chiropractic care. 

Future Damages

You may recover for projected future pain and suffering as explained above. You may also be compensated for the costs of future medical treatment if such treatment is a likelihood. You may also be compensated for future treatment for physical rehabilitation.

Loss of Salary, Loss of Job or Retirement Benefits

If you lose salary or pay because of an accident you may be compensated for that by the other party. If you lose your job because of an accident and/or someone else’s failure to act with reasonable care (aka negligence) you may be compensated for the loss of your job. If you are forced to leave your job prior to retirement benefits kicking in, or you retire early because of an accident you may be compensated for loss of future benefits.

This section pertains to everyone but especially to military members. Active duty military members must be able to perform on physical fitness tests (PFT) and/or Combat Fitness Tests (CFT) as part of their job. If they are involved in an accident and suffer even minor injury that permanently effects their ability to perform these physical tests then they could be forced to leave the military or to retire early which may expose them to loss of pay, losses from not being promoted because of the physical injury and losses from early retirement resulting from the accident. For service members who serve as infantry or other physically demanding jobs in the military a physical injury that impedes performance even slightly can make it impossible for them to do their job. The law pertaining to car or motorcycle accidents and other kinds of accidents permits service members to receive compensation if the accident makes it impossible or difficult for them to do their job.

Attorney Will Bruzzo as a former Major in the USMCR is very familiar with the demands of military life and is sensitive to the effect of even minor injuries on a person in the military. Given the physical demands in the military, a military member is not unlike a professional athlete who must be able to perform physically as part of his job. This is an idea that many non-military lawyers may not appreciate as there are very few jobs in our society as physically demanding as the military. 

A military member may retire at 20 years of service and receive 50% of their highest base pay of the preceding three years for the rest of their natural life. For every year after 20 years the member earns 2.5 % more of their base pay which means that at the 28-year mark they will earn 70% of their highest base pay in the preceding three years. If a service member loses the ability to continue to serve because of their injury they are entitled to compensation for their loss of retirement benefits and salary resulting from the loss.

Currently, the average person will live until they are 82 years of age. If a military member is forced to retire at 20 years because of a car or motorcycle accident and planned to stay until the 28-year mark then they will lose a significant amount of retirement benefits AND Salary. Many military members are eligible to retire at age 38, so if their losses add up to 25% of their retirement benefit over their projected lifetime (82 years) then their particular loss is 25% of their retirement over a 40 year period. This is an enormous amount of money and this is what the military member is entitled to. 

As a former Marine Officer Attorney Will Bruzzo understands that demands and rigors of military life. He believes that we owe our service members a great deal which includes fair treatment in the legal system. Mr. Bruzzo believes that fighting for Veterans is a fight worth having. Notably, most Americans whether they are Judges, Opposing Counsel, Insurance Adjustors or Jurors also have great respect and appreciation for America’s fighting men and women. So then it just takes someone with Mr. Bruzzo’s background to faithfully communicate how service members are more vulnerable to injuries resulting from accidents then civilians, as it pertains to their jobs, salaries and retirement benefits.

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