4×4 Pickup Truck Turns Over In Corn Field Injuring Passenger ($1 Million)
A union carpenter recovered $1 million after 4 years of litigation. The case settled one month before it was set to go to trial. The carpenter suffered a compound fracture of the left radius, destruction of the radial joint and damage to metacarpals, all of which resulted from a work-related accident.
A group of friends enjoyed a summer drive in a 4X4 pick up around a cornfield. The innocent outing turned to tragedy when the driver took a sharp turn after entering the field and the 4×4 pick-up truck rolled.
Our client, a sixteen-year-old passenger, and friend of the driver, was ejected from the car and pinned beneath the truck, his pelvis crushed.
Following the incident, the driver of the 4×4 released a recorded statement in which he admitted fault. He never meant for his friend to be hurt. Several months later, the driver joined the army. Consequently, the case became one against the driver’s insurance company, Auto Owner’s Insurance Company. The driver had acknowledged and taken full responsibility.
The insurance company indicated a desire to settle the case. Knowing that its insured was in the military for an indefinite length of time, Auto Owners Insurance Company contradicted their own client and denied liability. It offered our client $150,000; nowhere near sufficient to compensate for medical bills and lost earning capacity.
Initially, the insurance carrier presented to the attorneys at Horwitz, Horwitz and Associates that the liability coverage on the vehicle was a single, basic auto policy that was insufficient to compensate the Plaintiff for his injuries.
After an investigation, Horwitz attorneys uncovered that the defendant had failed to disclose, or intentionally concealed, a $1 million dollar umbrella policy. The primary policy and the umbrella policy combined totaled $1.5 million in coverage, enough to provide for the teenager’s needs and those he would surely face over the span of his lifetime.
While Horwitz attorneys pushed to resolve the case, the insurance company sought to delay it. Despite the recorded statement in which their insured admitted fault, the insurance company adamantly contended he was not at fault. It contested the pelvic injuries, even with X-rays showing that our client’s fractured pelvis never properly healed and records indicating he was in traction for several months.
To continue the delay and retain the funds owed to the 16-year-old, the insurance company attempted to use the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act for its own benefit.
The Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act was intended to protect servicemen and women from having to testify on their own behalf in a civil lawsuit while on active duty. The Act provides for a court-ordered stay of the case if a serviceman or woman could be impacted financially.
The insurance company attempted to have the case stayed indefinitely. It claimed that the driver’s participation was essential to defending the case. The attorneys of Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates argued to the court that because the driver had already admitted fault, the Auto Owners Insurance Company was violating the purpose and intent behind the statute. The court agreed and lifted the stay on the proceeding.
Even after the Horwitz team demonstrated that the insurance company was not entitled to protection under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and locked in the driver’s liability, the insurance company continued to delay. Nearly seven years after the incident, and without ever speaking to any of our client’s treating doctors, the insurance company hired a medical doctor to examine our client and dispute his injuries.
With trial less than two weeks away and after delaying the case for seven years, Horwitz attorneys finally recovered over $1 million for the injured teenager.
In many cases, persons severely injured in vehicle crashes do not recover fair compensation because so many people carry low liability limits. Few people know that their liability coverage can be increased to provide substantial coverage and protect themselves from liability for only a few extra dollars a year.
“For as little as $10 per month in added premium, many policies will increase coverage for medical costs and general liability to $1 million on a standard policy, over the typical $100/$300 plan. Even fewer people know that an umbrella policy (costing as little as $20 in additional premium) typically provides a minimum of $1 million or more in additional coverage for both home and auto, capable in most cases of meeting the full extent of injuries suffered by others. Without the added benefits to your standard policy, someone else’s insurance may not begin to cover your medical expenses and/or you can be sued personally for expenses beyond what your limited, basic policy provides if you are at fault,” said Mike Wierzbicki.
This case speaks to the twisted lengths insurance companies will go to deny, delay, and avoid paying injured parties despite the acute nature of their injuries and even when the insured has accepted responsibility.
It also speaks volumes about the need for all consumers to obtain sufficient insurance coverage to protect them from personal financial liability beyond the medical coverage provided in a basic auto policy.