Client was a passenger in a pickup truck northbound on Highway 75 heading home from a painting job with two co-workers when Liable Driver pulled out in front of them. Client was pinned in the truck for an hour and had to be removed with the Jaws of Life.
Client had a worker’s compensation claim, a claim against his personal uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, a claim against Liable Driver and a claim against the commercial underinsured (UM) motorist coverage for his employer. This sounds like a good thing for Client but the catch is (and there is always a catch for people needing to recover in court in Oklahoma) that Client may not be able to fully recover from all these insurance companies because he may have to disgorge some of the money he recovers from one insurance company to another insurance company. This process is called subrogation.
Sometimes a skilled attorney can negotiate a favorable settlement or have the insurance company waive subrogation all together. In Clients case there was significant risk of losing money he may otherwise be entitled to due to subrogation rights that three of the four insurance companies had. After a significant amount of negotiating and legal wrangling with the insurance companies I was able to convince the insurance companies to waive their subrogation interests so that client received his maximum recovery.
The first settlement came from Client’s personal uninsured motorist coverage (UM). This insurance company was, to speak frankly, very underhanded. Uninsured motorist insurance companies owe their clients a duty to deal in good faith but this conflicts with their desire to pay out as little as possible so as to up their profits. On multiple occasions the uninsured motorist insurance company attempted to deny and delay coverage. Each time the insurance company did this I caught them and set them straight. They finally agreed to pay the full amount.
The second settlement came from Liable Driver’s liability coverage. Because Liable Driver had the minimum coverage and Client and the other two had significant injuries there was not enough money to go around. (This is a problem in many accident / injury cases). Liable driver’s coverage was the minimum $25,000 coverage. (Also known as 25/50/25, $25,000 max per person/$50,000 total available/ $25,000 uninsured motorist). The insurance company for Liable Driver filed an interpleaded to disperse the money to the injured parties. An interpleaded is used when a party or insurance company admits to owing money but the money is owed to multiple people in uncertain / unspecified amounts. The three injured individuals agreed to split the $50,000 that was interplead, three ways evenly.
The third claim that came to a conclusion was the workers compensation claim. The workers compensation claim had to be tried. Workers compensation trials are very simple compared to jury trials in real court. I obtained a permanent partial disability rating for the Client of 50%. This is a very high rating that is rarely if ever given to workers compensation claimants. Client was very happy with my result for him. Client put a lump sum of $85,000 in his pocket after the trial and is receiving a weekly payment of $323.
The fourth and final settlement came from the commercial UM insurance carrier. The UM insurance carrier was really dragging their feet in settling the case. Their stated reason was that they wanted all injured parties to reach maximum medical improvement before they evaluated the case. The UM carrier initially offered $325,000. Through settlement negotiations where I used some clever negotiating tactics, the UM carrier quickly upped their offer to $425,000. The case settled and Client was pleased with his representation.