Two years ago, a man driving a company truck took his eyes off the road and caused a three car collision. The crash happened on a two lane road near Prunedale. Our client was stopped to make a left turn when the defendant slammed into the back of her car at 55 mph. The impact pushed our client into oncoming traffic, where a third vehicle hit her a second time at high speed. Our client suffered a compound fracture of her right arm, which an orthopedic surgeon repaired with plates and screws. She also suffered a fracture of the odontoid process of the C2 vertebra in her neck, which a neurosurgeon fused with an 1.5 inch long titanium screw. Our client was out of work for a year and her medical bills were over $200,000.
The roofing company that owned the at-fault driver’s truck had a commercial insurance policy with a $1,000,000 combined single limit. The combined single limit policy meant that one million dollars was the most the insurance company would have to pay for all of the harms and losses caused by the collision, including property damage. In this case, the insurance company had paid $7,000 for the total loss of our client’s vehicle, $14,000 for the total loss of the third vehicle in the oncoming lane, and $26,000 to the driver of the third vehicle for his injuries. This left $953,000 in insurance coverage for our client.
The insurance company tried to play the typical game of defend and delay, so we filed a lawsuit and the court set a trial date. After we filed the lawsuit, the defense offered a $550,000 settlement. We rejected the offer and told the insurance carrier that we would never settle the case for less than the policy limits. With the trial date fast approaching, we called the insurance company’s bluff and gave it a final chance to pay the policy limits or face the jury. The insurance company caved and agreed to pay every penny of the remaining policy limits.