'Strong Arm' lawyer Brian Loncar flexing his muscle again, this time in his own injury case against city of Dallas


by By JOANNA CATTANACH / The Dallas Morning News jcattanach@dallasnews.com


Posted on August 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 16 at 1:19 PM

Six months after a near-fatal accident, personal-injury lawyer Brian Loncar is training for triathlons again and taking on another big case - his own.

Brian Loncar, who was seriously injured when a Dallas Fire-Rescue truck hit his car, is pursuing a $250,000 injury claim against the city.

Called the "Strong Arm," Mr. Loncar is a familiar face on North Texas airwaves. His television commercials feature a huge bicep and forearm pounding against steel with his gruff promise to get clients the money they deserve if they've been injured in a car accident.

In May, a Dallas Fire-Rescue truck plowed through the driver side of his 2008 Bentley in Oak Lawn, breaking his pelvis and 10 ribs and collapsing one of his lungs.

Five days later, his attorney filed a personal-injury claim against the city of Dallas, arguing that the firetruck's driver didn't brake at Lemmon Avenue and Lomo Alto Drive before proceeding against a red light, as required by department policy.

"There's no doubt there was a red light, based on accident reconstruction experts, statements from eyewitnesses," said Mr. Loncar's attorney, Clay Jenkins.

The city and Dallas Fire-Rescue, which is reviewing the accident, declined to comment because of Mr. Loncar's pending personal-injury claim.

But accident reports conflict. The firetruck driver said he drove through a green light, though a witness said it was red.

Police determined that the light was red but that Mr. Loncar may be to blame because he "failed to yield right of way to an emergency vehicle."

Mr. Loncar said he didn't hear the firetruck's siren until it was too late to react. And though one witness said Mr. Loncar may have been trying to beat a yellow light, he insists he had a green light.

The collision's impact sent Mr. Loncar's car spinning into a minivan carrying a woman and three children, who suffered minor injuries - the driver's insurance company has claims against the city and Mr. Loncar.

Mr. Loncar, though, was left with a scar from his groin to midchest, no spleen, gouges left from a catheter bag and chest tube, and memories of many hours of painful rehabilitation. He said he feared he might be permanently disabled and become addicted to painkillers.

He's almost completely recovered but still has numbness in his left leg.

His injury claim against the city for $250,000 - the most the city can be required to pay an individual involved in an accident - won't cover the $600,000 in medical bills he has accumulated.

But he said he hopes his case will lead Dallas Fire-Rescue to enforce its traffic policies.

Mr. Loncar is also using the accident in his well-known television commercials.

"I spent a month in the hospital, six weeks in a wheelchair, and I'm learning to walk again," he tells viewers with slightly slurred speech. "I'm Brian Loncar, and I'm still the strong arm.

"If you've been hurt in a serious car wreck, you need a lawyer who understands," a gaunt Mr. Loncar says while images of his car accident are shown behind him.

He said some doctors were reluctant to operate on him because of his reputation for litigation, though he assured them he didn't work on medical malpractice cases.

He credits his wife, actress Sue Loncar, and their six children for seeing him through his months of recovery.

He said his experience has made him "more patient, more sympathetic, a lot more devout."

And more cautious. He has replaced his wrecked Bentley with a new powder-blue 2009 model.

"I drive like a 90-year-old," he said.

Although he's letting his attorney handle the claim against the city, he's prepared to go to court.

"It's a really bad thing when the best case in your law firm is your own," he joked.