Motor Vehicle Negligence, and Breach of Contract by Client’s Underinsured Motorist Benefits
Our client, a 53-year-old husband and father of three, was standing on the edge of the road in his quiet Chadds Ford neighborhood talking to a neighbor when he was struck by a GMC Yukon XL driven by another neighbor. Our client was thrown over the hood of the Yukon and suffered injuries including a mild traumatic brain injury; misalignment of his jaw (TMJ); fractured rib; large open laceration of his head requiring staples; multiple lacerations to the chest; hip contusion; face, scalp, neck contusions; and a sprained knee. The driver received a citation for careless driving, and she admitted she was 100% at fault for the collision. The driver’s auto insurance carrier promptly paid our client her full liability insurance policy limits without the need for any litigation.
On behalf of our clients, we then made a claim against their own auto insurance carrier, USAA, for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits the clients had purchased. UIM benefits are payable to an insured who has been the victim of motor vehicle negligence when the wrongdoer does not have enough insurance to compensate the victim. Our client was a veteran of the Gulf War and had been a customer of USAA’s for 35 years. After reviewing our client’s claim, USAA only offered a mere $5,000 to our client. USAA claimed our client was at fault for the collision, and that he was not suffering from a mild traumatic brain injury. Thus, we were forced to file a lawsuit because USAA failed to pay the full and fair value of our clients’ damages in breach of its contractual duties under the insurance policy.
Investigation and discovery in the case showed that our client’s neighborhood is quiet and friendly. By all witness accounts, it was common for neighbors to stand on the road and talk, for neighbors to walk dogs in the roadway, and even for kids to ride bikes in the roadway. In fact, before the impact, another car had passed by our client, slowing down first before passing.
Further, the evidence showed that since the day he was hit by the SUV our client has suffered from head injury symptoms including headaches, fogginess, and cognitive deficiencies that prevented him from returning to the high-level and demanding work he had throughout his career as a vice president of sales in a large company. He could only return to the workforce in a much more limited capacity, working for a small start-up company and doing limited consulting work. The difference between his income before and after the accident was significant.
After extensive litigation, at a private arbitration we were able to obtain a monetary award in favor of our client and his wife and against USAA for a total recovery .