$10,546,000: Three Million Dollar Settlement Above Policy Limits In Bicycle vs. Auto Accident
June 3, 2010
CASE DESCRIPTION: A thirteen year-old boy was riding his bicycle down a street when the defendant’s vehicle entered the bike lane striking plaintiff. As a result of plaintiff’s severe injuries he brought suit against the defendant. The defendant’s insurance refused to pay out policy limits on the claim resulting in a suit for Insurance Bad Faith.
RESULT: $10,546,438.50 gross settlement
On June 22, 2000, in Huntington Beach, California, Plaintiff was riding his bicycle northbound on Seapoint at Doral. Defendant William L’s vehicle entered the bike lane and struck Plaintiff from behind at a high rate of speed. Plaintiff sustained severe injuries, and endured a lengthy hospitalization and recovery period.
Prior to filing suit, Plaintiff’s counsel demanded information regarding policy limits. Shortly prior to filing, Defendants’ insurer Farmers revealed that the applicable limits were $50,000. Plaintiff’s counsel then filed suit and demanded the policy limits. After Farmers failed to accept the policy limits demand during the time given for acceptance, Plaintiff’s counsel refused all later tenders of the policy limits, and demanded the full value of Plaintiff’s injuries. Plaintiff’s counsel indicated its intent to obtain a judgment in excess of the policy limits at trial, and then proceed against Farmers on a bad faith action by way of assignment from the Defendants.
The defense disputed the degree of loss future earnings suffered by the plaintiff. The defense claimed that Plaintiff’s high level of academic achievement and testing post-incident indicated that future lost earnings would be minimal at most.
The defense further tried to limit their liability by contending that any settlement value should be reduced to reflect the added expense and risk of initiating a second bad faith suit following the initial trial of the action by Plaintiff’s counsel.
TYPE OF CASE: Auto v. Bicycle
INJURIES: Plaintiff received severe injuries to his skull, pelvis, leg and arm. He received a lacerated spleen, injury to his colon, lung, pancreas, and was rendered in a coma state at the time of the incident. He has suffered hearing loss as well as photosensitivity. As a result of his brain injury he now has severe mood swings and other behavioral issues that are being treated by medication.
DATE & LOCATION OF INCIDENT: On 6/22/00 in Huntington Beach, California.
PLAINTIFF’S AGE: 13 at time of incident.
Wylie A. Aitken & Darren O. Aitken
AITKEN * AITKEN * COHN
For Plaintiff – Trevor S., a Minor, by and Through His Guardian Ad Litem, Donald S.
Bruce L. Schechter & Mark W. Eisenberg
HOLLINS & SCHECHTER
For Defendant – William L. & Nguyet T.
DEFENDANT’S INSURANCE CO.: Farmers Insurance