This case of Dean Brett’s client illustrates how important it is to carefully investigate the policy limits of Under-insured Motorist Coverage. Without an attorney to insist that the insurance company discloses all the details of the insurance policy coverage, cases like this settle for far less than their true value.
Dean’s client was walking her dog when she was struck in a crosswalk by a 23-year old man driving a Honda Civic. The force of impact threw her onto the car, where she broke the windshield with her right shoulder.
Our client’s injuries included a fractured arm, a fractured leg, a fractured rib, and serious fractures to the bones of her face. Surgeons implanted a metal plate and pins to stabilize her fractured arm, and sent her home to begin a slow recovery.
Her follow-up treatment included hand surgery, surgery to remove the hardware in her shoulder, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Doctors restricted her from working in her job as an occupational therapist at all for six months.
At this point, she knew she needed help, and she called attorney Dean Brett.
Her insurance company, GEICO, had told her that she carried only $50,000 in Under-insured Motorist (UIM) coverage. Since Washington law says that UIM coverage must be waived in writing, Dean demanded that GEICO produce the written proof of UIM waiver. When they could not provide the waiver, the UIM coverage reverted to the $300,000 limit – effectively adding $250,000 in recovery.
Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner demanded GEICO’s $300,000 UIM limit. GEICO responded with a counter-offer of just $129,000. Dean advised his client to refuse this ridiculously low offer.
With the cost of future surgeries in mind, Dean sent his client to Dr. Frederic Braun, a Board Certified Neurologist, for an independent medical examination. In his report, Dr. Braun related all of the client’s injuries to her accident. Dr. Braun concluded that she had suffered a permanent partial disability rating, meaning that she will not fully recover her pre-accident health status.
Using this information, Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner presented a new demand letter to GEICO, listing in detail the costs of medical care to date, future medical care, wage loss to date, future wage loss, and future loss in retirement-fund contributions, and again demanded that GEICO pay the entire $300,000 UIM policy limit. GEICO then paid.
Because the UIM limits were raised to $300,000 and then paid, Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner was able to obtain a waiver of the $48,600 lien against the client for the medical payments made by both GEICO and the driver’s policy under their Personal Injury Protection coverage, as well as a waiver of the subrogation claim by her health insurance company requiring to be paid back for the $48,855.73 they paid out for medical costs. These waivers significantly increased the client’s total recovery, bringing it to nearly $450,000.
In this case, had the client not sought out an attorney, she may have unknowingly accepted the initial UIM $50,000 settlement offer, and lost a quarter of a million dollars that she rightfully deserved and needed for her recovery.