Insurance companies demand confidentiality in certain cases in order to keep their identity and adjusting tactics hidden. The following case review has fictional names, but is otherwise based upon a real-life case.
On the evening of March 22, 2016, David Jones was riding his motorcycle southbound on State Road 776 as Jane Doe was driving northbound in a vehicle owned by Fast Eddie. When Jane Doe made an unexpected left turn in front of him, David applied his brakes and laid his bike down. Unable to avoid the collision, David sustained severe, life-threatening injuries, was airlifted to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and admitted to the ICU.
David suffered acute respiratory distress, multiple fractures, and dislocations to his ankle, scapula, femur, tibia, back, and ribs. Multiple orthopedic surgeries stabilized his fractures, but he was unable to walk for months. When his legs could bear weight, he had to use a walker and later a cane. His injuries left him unable to take care of simple daily activities or operate a vehicle for almost a year after the accident. Within three months his total medical charges were $430,000, and significant future medical expenses were expected.
David hired Wittmer | Linehan to investigate the accident and the available insurance. Letters were sent to Jane Doe’s state-approved insurance company, which provided $100,000 in injury liability coverage and $100,000 in property loss coverage. As often happens, the insurance company was quick to tender their $100,000 for injury loss coverage, but failed to offer any property damage loss reimbursement and required that David sign an overbroad and unacceptable release. The insurance company release required that David release both Jane and Fast Eddie from all other claims for injuries, release all property losses, and required that David indemnify, defend, and protect Jane, Fast Eddie, and their insurance company from any medical provider claims of subrogation.
Following the insurance company’s offer, and prior to obtaining a formal appraisal of his property losses, David advised the insurance company that he was willing to resolve his claims in exchange for full payment of the injury policy ($100,000) and payment of $8,500 in property losses if they could prove neither Jane nor Fast Eddie had any additional available insurance. The insurance company’s counter offer was to pay the full injury losses and to pay $5,500 for the property losses. The company also stated Fast Eddie owned another vehicle that may have additional insurance, but failed to provide additional information about this additional policy in a timely manner. With missing policy information, an unacceptable release, and a low ball property damage offer, David made the decision to file a lawsuit.
After a year of litigation, we proved that David’s past and future medical care costs were approaching $1 million. In the mediation settlement conference, we showed how the insurance company attempted to hide coverages, refused to pay the full amount of losses, and required a release indemnifying and protecting the defendants from any medical care claim. The insurance company’s unnecessary delay in resolving this claim and request for an overly broad release and other protections exposed their insured to a judgment which vastly exceeded his available coverage. The insurance company agreed to a confidential amount that represented the full value of his claim. This case is a textbook example of why it is important to retain Wittmer | Linehan. We understand insurance laws in Florida and know how to protect you from insurance companies who unnecessarily delay settlements or require abusive terms and conditions in order to resolve your claim.