Bike_Lane.jpgSan Francisco injury lawyer Claude Wyle doesn’t normally set up trust accounts for his clients, but he’s making an exception for a man who was hit in the June 2 road rage incident that injured four bicyclists.

Rolando Casajeros, 39, was on his way home from a Safeway supermarket at about 9:45 p.m. when he was allegedly hit by 39-year-old David Mark Clark in the Mission District.

Clark is accused of intentionally running down Casajeros and three other cyclists, and he pled not guilty to attempted murder earlier this month.

Casajeros, who experienced the worst injuries of those hit, suffered 12 facial fractures, bleeding on the brain, a fractured jaw and lost teeth, Wyle said.

He has already undergone a 19-hour surgery and has many more operations ahead.
He faces months of rehabilitation, and although the Healthy San Francisco program is paying his doctors’ bills, he has no way to support himself while he’s on hiatus at work.
Friends in Redwood City are currently caring for him.

“It’s just awful,” Wyle said.

Wyle has therefore decided to go “above and beyond” and set up an attorney-client trust account for Casajeros. He is soliciting donations for the account, which is in Wyle’s name so Casajeros’ public benefits aren’t jeopardized.

A trust lawyer set up the account at a discount, Wyle said.

All of the money will benefit Casajeros, who hopes to return to his job as a waiter at the Old Clam House in the Bayview neighborhood in a few months.

“I just don’t know how that’s going to happen,” Wyle said.

Casajeros recently appeared on camera at a news conference and discussed his ordeal. He spoke slowly and quietly because his jaw is still wired shut, and scars crisscrossed the top of his head and face.

He said he doesn’t remember much of the attack – just him and his groceries flying in the air – and woke up in the hospital two days later with his jaw wired shut.

“I almost fainted when I saw the second one with the nuts holding pieces of my face,” he said of his x-rays. “I can’t imagine myself with all those nuts and things inside my face right now.”

He also said he doesn’t sleep well.

“It’s pretty rough,” Wyle said. “He’s got a good attitude. He says he wants to get back on his bike again. But I’m sure he’s in a lot of pain.”

The Old Clam House held a fundraiser for Casajeros on Sunday, and his friends are trying to raise money as well.

Wyle said he was inspired to set up the trust account for Casajeros for two reasons.

First, he felt badly for him. Casajeros was just a few doors away from his house when he was hit. He was already living paycheck to paycheck at the time.

Wyle was also outraged by the incident, which he said is part of a larger cavalier attitude toward bicyclists in San Francisco.

He said he has been an injury lawyer in San Francisco for 20 years and, percentage wise, probably has one of the highest caseloads of bicycle-related injuries in the city.

“Day in and day out, there’s a negative attitude about bicyclists,” he said. “I see way too many cases where when people with a car give another car the right of way, but when it’s a bike, they just go.”

Wyle acknowledged some bicyclists in the city flout traffic laws and foster negativity toward cyclists, and he said sometimes they’re hit because drivers don’t see them.

But he said too often drivers see a bicyclist and don’t care. He said he hopes his work with Casajeros will remind people to control their emotions and not take their frustrations out on bicyclists, who are vulnerable.

“If you play games with bicyclists, you’re really playing games with their personal safety,” he said. “Just a little bit of bad attitude acted upon can cause injuries.”

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  • Sean Casey

    If someone has access to a fat account, then normally they wouldn’t need the public benefits and would be denied. That’s how it works. This is government fraud. Maybe the lawyer should go into politics and make it official, since he’s so up front about gaming the system. You shouldn’t be able to have it both ways. Lawyers.

  • friscolex

    This makes me so, so sad.

  • Claude Wyle

    Dear Sean: You have misunderstood. First off, the account set up for this horribly injured man is a client trust account. Next we are going to set up a trust called a “special needs trust” which will contain, at some point, some money to be used on Mr. Casajeros’ behalf. There is not likely to be anywhere near enough to compensate him for the 12 broken bones in his face or the brain injury suffered in this outrageous attack. There is not and probably will never be what you call access to a fat account. Casajeros is living with friends who are kind enough to be taking care of him. He has no access to any money other than what he had in the bank the day before the attack. Some people have been kind enough to donate to try to help him deal with the tremendous financial impact this attack has caused him, and that money is going to go into a trust account. Everything done on behalf of Mr. Casajeros is entirely supported by the law. As you seem to know, if he had access to a fat account, he would lose eligibility. He will not likely have access to a fat account ever. His head injuries may make it impossible for him to ever work again. The community is trying to help. Why would you want to change the focus from him to lawyer bashing? Are you a bicylist hater as well as a lawyer hater?

  • Claude Wyle

    Dear Sean: You have misunderstood. First off, the account set up for this horribly injured man is a client trust account. Next we are going to set up a trust called a “special needs trust” which will contain, at some point, some money to be used on Mr. Casajeros’ behalf. There is not likely to be anywhere near enough to compensate him for the 12 broken bones in his face or the brain injury suffered in this outrageous attack. There is not and probably will never be what you call access to a fat account. Casajeros is living with friends who are kind enough to be taking care of him. He has no access to any money other than what he had in the bank the day before the attack. Some people have been kind enough to donate to try to help him deal with the tremendous financial impact this attack has caused him, and that money is going to go into a trust account. Everything done on behalf of Mr. Casajeros is entirely supported by the law. As you seem to know, if he had access to a fat account, he would lose eligibility. He will not likely have access to a fat account ever. His head injuries may make it impossible for him to ever work again. The community is trying to help. Why would you want to change the focus from him to lawyer bashing? Are you a bicylist hater as well as a lawyer hater?