I have a client who was injured in a car accident when another driver made a sudden left hand turn in front of her on a green light. The driver was ticketed for failing to yield to the right of way. My client injured both of her knees.
She began treating with a well-known orthopedic surgeon from the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute. When conservative measures - physical therapy, medication and rest- failed to help with her pain and disability (trouble walking, going up and down stairs, etc.), the orthopedist recommended arthroscopic surgery on each knee.
The total cost of the surgeries was $64,000. The defendant carried insurance limits with State Farm of $100,000.
I demanded policy limits.
State Farm said they wanted my client's past medical records to see if she had a history of knee problems. These records were provided as was a report from the surgeon saying that the injury caused by the car accident was the reason for surgery. State Farm then said that they wanted to depose my client so their attorney could question my client under oath about how the car accident happened and her injuries.
Even after the deposition, State Farm still refused to settle. (They did not even make a settlement offer). I informed them that no further negotiations would occur, and the case will proceed to trial. I also stated that I considered them to be negotiating in bad faith, in violation of its duty to its insured (the defendant); and that when the case goes to trial, I will seek to hold them responsible should the jury return a verdict more than their policy limits of $100,000, which is very likely.
Under certain circumstances, an insurance company can be held directly liable to pay an injured party a sum greater than the policy limits purchased by their insured. I think that circumstance exists in this case. An insurance company cannot deny payment on a personal injury case simply because they don't want to pay. They cannot put their interests ahead of the interest of their insured, and expose their insured to the risk of having to pay a jury verdict from their own pocket (above policy limits).
I look forward to trial.
If you’ve experienced a similar situation after an auto accident, we can help. Contact Lipkin & Higgins to discuss your case with one of our personal injury attorneys.