Initial Denial Leads to Policy Limits Settlement
We recently finalized a case for our client Doreena. As with many of our recent results, Doreena initially signed with a large St. Louis area law firm and was later referred to us after the insurance company denied her claim. Despite a police report that found the other driver at fault for failing to yield, the insurance company decided that Doreena was at fault for causing the accident and refused to offer anything to settle the claim prior to it being sent over to us in January of 2020.
We took the case and immediately filed suit against the other driver. During the course of litigation, the defense made an offer of judgment for $15,000.00, and Doreena was considering accepting that amount because she had been laid off from her job during the initial parts of the COVID pandemic and really needed the money. In discussing the offer, we told Doreena that the choice was her to take that money, but we really believed in her case and we thought we could get more. She agreed and decided to reject the settlement.
We litigated the case for several more months and eventually we took the deposition of the other driver involved. During that deposition Rusty got him to admit that he sped up to beat a yellow light. He also admitted that the light may have turned red either while he was in the intersection, or even before he entered into the intersection. Ultimately, he admitted that he believed he was at fault for causing the accident, even though his insurance company had placed the fault on Doreena.
Following those admissions, we made a time limited settlement demand and we were able to settle the case for Doreena for the full amount of the other driver's policy limits!
Unfortunately, Doreena's own insurance policy had expired shortly before this incident. Because of that, we were unable to get her additional money to fully compensate her under her own underinsured motorist policy. Scott recently wrote a blog post on this (https://www.rklegalgroup.com/how-to-write-a-11000000-email) and this case demonstrates the importance of maintaining underinsured motorist coverage under your own policy.
In the end, we took this case on when a lot of other law firms would have turned it down due to the denial by the insurer. From day 1 we believed Doreena, we believed in her case, and we had full confidence we would ultimately prevail. That confidence allowed Doreena to turn down the offer of judgment and ended up putting a lot more money in her pocket as a result!
Practice area(s): Car / Auto Accident, Personal Injury
Court: St. Louis County, MO