Case Spotlight: Settlement Over Policy Limits in Auto vs. Pedestrian Case

  • Congratulations are in order for attorney Jeffrey C. Arnold. He recently obtained a large settlement that exceeded the available insurance policy limits. He only had to file the lawsuit and the adverse insurance company caved immediately. He sent them medical records and billings that showed our client had $58,824.95 in medical services. And that was only one bill, because we were still waiting on four other facilities to send us their billing records. This was enough information to demand the policy limits of $100,000.00. We gave them a deadline and the adverse insurance company did not accept our demand.

    In order to “open” a policy, you have to demand the policy limits and give the other side sufficient information to conclude that the case has a value that is at or exceeds the limits. When they choose not to pay the limits, then the policy is open, meaning they will have to pay whatever amount a jury decides is just if the case goes to trial.

    In this particular case, our client was leaving a Wal-Mart shopping center when she and her cart were struck by a vehicle. The adverse driver had seen an open parking spot on the next aisle and was racing to get it before anyone else. Wal-Mart has surveillance of its premises and that includes the entrance to the store and some of the parking lot. Video is a very powerful tool. The video in this case clearly showed that the adverse driver did not stop for the stop sign and struck our client with her vehicle knocking her to the ground.

    Our client spent 8 days in the hospital and was diagnosed with a fractured vertebra. She was an elderly woman who had been living alone and was completely mobile before this vehicle versus pedestrian accident. She suddenly needed help with the smallest tasks and lost her independence. After her hospital stay she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. After that she was transferred to an assisted living facility. It was seven months before she was allowed to return home.

    Her doctors said that she will likely never regain the independence and mobility that she had before. She is unable to drive herself to the store and must rely on family and paid care givers to run errands. She also cannot walk without the assistance of a walker or cane anymore.

    We filed the case after the insurance company rejected our policy limits demand. After you file a lawsuit, you then have to serve the Defendant so that they know they are being sued. Along with the Summons and Complaint, we served an Offer to Compromise pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 998 on the Defendant. The defense attorney immediately accepted our 998 in the amount of $249,999.99, two and half times the policy limits, in order to avoid litigating this case.

    I think that they knew they screwed up when they did not accept the policy limits demand. It was smart for the defense to settle instead of spending thousands of dollars and man hours defending a case where the facts were so clearly in the Plaintiff’s favor.

    Our client was relieved that it was all over with so quickly and that she did not have to go through the discovery phase of litigation. She can now focus on her health and hopefully recover over time.

    If you have been in an accident and need some help, give Laskin Balma Attorneys at Law a call. We may be able to help.

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