Insurance Offered: $1,500
We Got: $85,000
Traffic safety depends on everyone—from drivers to bikers to pedestrians—following the rules of the road. Unfortunately, sometimes drivers fail to do so and it results in serious injury. While driving a car, one of our clients was struck by a vehicle running a stop sign and suffered multiple significant injuries to her head, back, and neck.
After being struck by the vehicle, our client suffered a head injury and lost consciousness. She experienced damage to the left side of her neck as well as back injury, including disc protrusions.
Approximately 20 months after the accident, she underwent surgery to repair a cervical disc herniation at the C4 and C5 vertebrae.
Once our client had completed most of her treatment, we were quickly able to settle with the driver’s insurance company. However, the driver’s policy limits of $35,000 were insufficient to compensate our client, whose medical bills alone were over $50,000.
Next, we pursued an underinsured motorist claim against her own insurance company. Underinsurance motorist (UIM) coverage is standard in Massachusetts. If you are involved in an accident with a defendant with low policy limits, your UIM policy stands in the place of the insurance of the person who hit you, up to your own policy limits. In this case, it meant there was an additional $65,000 in coverage available to our client.
Our client’s insurer, however, took the position that because the surgery took place over a year and a half after the accident occurred, the two were not related. They supported their claim by pointing out that there was a significant time period where the client was suffering but not receiving treatment, and therefore she had already been adequately compensated. They even tried to argue that because she was not seeking treatment, she wasn’t really suffering.
We filed for mandatory arbitration, which is an alternative method of resolving disputes where both parties submit their arguments to a neutral arbiter. We presented evidence demonstrating that there were specific symptoms that began immediately after the accident which persisted until after the surgery. This proved that the surgery cured or resolved symptoms that were caused by the car accident.
During the arbitration, we presented our entire case and our client testified about the accident, her injuries, and how they had deeply affected her life over the past two years. Our client told us that this process was deeply cathartic for her and provided immense relief to the emotional impact of the accident.
But that wasn’t the only beneficial result of the arbitration. Our client’s insurer initially offered her $1,500, but through arbitration, she was awarded $50,000 alongside the $35,000 settlement from the driver’s insurer. All together, her settlement value came to $85,000 after originally being offered less than $2,000.