Plaintiff in this case was a 28-year-old man who was a passenger in a pickup driven by his father when it was rear-ended at a high speed on a freeway by a large truck.
As a result of the accident, plaintiff alleged a traumatic brain injury.
The case was previously handled by another attorney. At the time that the prior attorney referred the case to the law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, there was only a $50,000 offer and the defendants were threatening to withdraw that offer, claiming that plaintiff was a fraud. The insurance company for the trucking company had performed surveillance of the plaintiff and alleged that the surveillance established that the plaintiff did not suffer from the motor and cognitive damages that he claimed. Further, the defense had talked to witnesses, including the plaintiff’s wife, who indicated that he was exaggerating his symptoms. The defendants retained a neurologist and neuropsychologist who found no significant evidence of a traumatic brain injury on examination and concluded that the plaintiff was faking his injury.
The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, turned the case around by retaining a team of experts who established that the force at the time of the collision was significant enough to cause a traumatic brain injury; that plaintiff’s 15 minutes of unconsciousness after the accident was significant when combined with his retrograde and antegrade amnesia; that neuropsychological testing and testing by a physiatrist did indicate a traumatic brain injury; and that plaintiff’s inconsistent behavior since the accident was consistent with a frontal lobe traumatic brain injury.
Right before trial, the insurance company for the trucking company settled with the plaintiff for $650,000. That left the case against the driver of the pickup in which plaintiff was a passenger. He only had an insurance policy of $100,000. However, at the time when both insurance companies thought that plaintiff was a fraud, it refused to pay its $100,000 insurance policy after a demand.
Under California law, if a plaintiff demands the policy limit, and the insurance company unreasonably refuses to pay it, the policy limit is “opened up” because the insurance company is in bad faith. The law offices of Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, was able to establish a risk for a bad faith verdict against the insurance company, and it contributed $350,000 to the settlement ($250,000 over its policy limit).
RESULT: $1,000,000 settlement on behalf of plaintiff