Uninsured Motorist Insurance: A Story

orange county injury attorney, john p burns, personal injury attorneyLaguna Canyon Road was dark and full of rush hour traffic as the man was driving home from work.  As he was momentarily stopped in traffic, the man’s car was suddenly rear ended by another car.  As his car was thrown forward the man turned his wheel to the left but his car was still thrown into the rear of the car ahead of him.

There was significant damage to the man’s car, as well as to the car of the lady who hit him. The lady who hit him was injured so badly that she had to be taken away by ambulance. The man’s car was not drivable and had to be towed away.

The man was scheduled to go away the next day for a pre-scheduled family vacation. The man and his family went away but while away he noticed increasing shoulder pain and that, after taking a shower, he was unable to hold a towel to dry his back.

When he returned to his home after the trip, the man sought medical attention.  The medical doctor he saw diagnosed a shoulder injury and prescribed physical therapy. The man started the physical therapy treatment. The medical doctor also prescribed an MRI of the man’s shoulder. The client’s health insurance company refused to authorize the MRI unless the man first completed several more weeks of physical therapy. That’s when the man contacted attorney John Burns and became a client of Mr. Burns.

Mr. Burns immediately arranged to have the client’s MRI performed by a local MRI facility on a lien basis. This meant that no insurance company authorization was needed. The MRI bill would be paid out of the settlement with the lady who ran into the client’s car. The MRI showed a rotator cuff tear in the client’s shoulder. It soon became clear that the client was going to need rotator cuff surgery.

The client wanted to have the rotator cuff surgery performed by a highly regarded surgeon and facility.  Accordingly, he chose a prestigious orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles. Mr. Burns drove with the client to the client’s appointment and met the surgeon who was going to perform the procedure.  Mr. Burns also obtained the surgeon’s agreement to have a nurse take photos of the surgery of the client while the surgery was in process in the hospital.

By the conclusion of the initial physical therapy, the shoulder surgery and the surgery rehabilitation, the client had accrued substantial medical bills due to the accident. Mr. Burns submitted a claim to the insurance company of the lady who had rear ended the client but that insurance company refused to pay. Mr. Burns then filed a lawsuit against the lady. The insurance company for the lady still tried, however, to delay paying the client’s claim.

Mr. Burns called the lady’s insurance adjuster and explained that the client had significant medical bills which could be presented to a jury at trial. He also explained that amount of medical bills would certainly result in a verdict in excess of the insurance policy limits of the lady who had hit the client.

Mr. Burns also told the adjuster that this was particularly true in light of the fact that the photos of the client going through the shoulder surgery would be shown to the jury at trial.  At that point, the adjuster agreed to pay the client the full amount of the lady’s insurance limits.

Mr. Burns had also realized, early in the case, that the client had Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage on his own automobile liability insurance policy.  In California, this insurance covers you if you are hit by a driver who does not have any insurance.

It also covers you when you are injured by an Under Insured driver. An Under Insured driver is someone who has insurance but not enough insurance to cover the full value of your claim. That was the situation which existed with the client because the lady who hit him had caused him injuries worth more than insurance policy limits she had.

For this reason, Mr. Burns then made a claim against the client’s own insurance company under the Under Insured Motorist provisions of the client’s policy.  The client’s insurance company eventually agreed to a settlement.  It agreed to pay an additional amount of money which was almost equal to the amount paid by the insurance company of the lady who hit the client. This resulted in an excellent total settlement for the client.

The moral of this case history is that all drivers need to talk to their automobile insurance company about adding Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist coverage on their automobile insurance policies.  That insurance will provide you with a valuable source of payment in the event you are hit by someone who does not have any car insurance or, like the client’s case, does not have enough insurance to pay the full value of your claim.