Plaintiff in this case was a 22-year-old college student who was riding his bicycle at night without a light or a front or rear reflector on a suburban street. Defendant automobile driver made a turn in front of the plaintiff and plaintiff was not able to stop in time and slammed into the vehicle. As a result of the collision, the plaintiff developed a traumatic brain injury.
Defendant driver only had a $100,000 insurance policy. The plaintiff’s family also had a $100,000 under-insured motorist policy. After careful research, the Law Offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP was able to determine that even though the plaintiff was on a bicycle, the uninsured motorist policy would cover his injuries and that even though in California plaintiff would not be entitled to an additional $100,000 settlement against his own insurance company if the defendant driver had a $100,000 policy, that the insurance policy was purchased in the State of Washington where the insurance policies “stack.” Thus, the law firm was able to first recover $100,000 from plaintiff’s own uninsured motorist carrier.
The law firm then gave the insurance company for defendant driver the opportunity to settle the case for its policy limits of $100,000. At the time, the defendant’s insurance company took the position that plaintiff was totally responsible for his own injuries and that his traumatic brain injury was not significant enough to warrant a settlement of an additional $100,000.
The defendant’s claim centered on the fact that although the defendant did take a left turn in front of plaintiff, she was unable to see him due to the lack of street light that was available and because plaintiff did not have a headlight or reflectors on anything other than his pedals.
The Law Offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP retained an accident reconstruction expert, lighting expert and photogrammetry expert and made a movie recreating the accident with the actual car and a similar bicycle on the one-year anniversary of the accident.
The movie indicated that the reflectors on the plaintiff’s pedals provided enough view of the bicyclist so that defendant, if she had been paying attention, would have seen him coming down the road and not turned.
Plaintiff further claimed that the $100,000 policy limit had been “opened up” because plaintiff had at one time agreed to settle for $100,000 and the insurance company, at that time, unreasonably refused to pay; thus, the insurance company was in bad faith. The defendant driver’s insurance company then paid an additional $350,000 in settlement.
RESULT: Settlement on behalf of plaintiff for $450,000