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Bodily injury claim - Husband Killed
My husband was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was coming home late from a rally with a friend, a deer (300 lb) came out of a field and went between his front wheel and his motor, ejected him, flipped the bike and bounced on him, then his head was run over by his friend who was not able to avoid him even with evasive maneuvers. One of those things, and that is what we have insurance for, right?
We have a son that just turned 9 since then,and I need to make sure he is taken care of to the best of my ability. The insurance company said I had to assign blame, I told them only God knows that, I wasn't there. I have provided them with death certificates, accident reports, medical releases, surviving spouse affidavits and anything else they might have asked for.
This is going on 4 months and I am really getting tired. The adjuster keeps telling me:
well, we will shoot for next week. Then something else comes up they need. How long should this really take? What is my next step?
They said the 1st claim would be Bodily injury from the other driver (his best friend) then an underinsured claim under our policy.
They didn't tell me the amount of the first claim (if it is like our policy, and it very well could be because we have same insurance company, agent everything) then it would be 50,000 and the underinsured would be 50,000. Does all this sound right to you?
I am very sorry to hear about your loss. This type of claim takes a long time. You have two claims (one against the friend, and then one against your insurance company). So one claim will affect the second claim. This usually takes its time. The insurance company will not want to pay policy limits just because. You have to be somewhat aggressive.
It is very difficult to try to determine the policy limits of the insurance company. It really depends on what the friend bought as liability coverage. You could simply ask him (if that is comfortable and you have an amicable relationship).
At this point, you really need an attorney. I am not sure if you have one, but insurance companies will try to buy themselves out of this one. They also have the two claims in their court, meaning that they can "share" information and use it against you. You are correct, you must protect your child well being, and at this point, you do need to be protected.
I know that sometimes the 30% an attorney takes is a lot, but it can be well worth it if the insurance company is giving you the run around.
It is possible that your assessment is correct about the limits, but the only way to know is to "demand disclosure of policy limit", insurance companies will not want to do this, so this is one thing an attorney needs to do.
I hope this helps some and again, I am sorry for your loss.
Could you explain the phrase "the insurance co will try to buy themselves out of this one"? And, no I do not have an atty at this point, I was holding off because even $100k is not really all that much when you consider everything (it is a lot but it's not at the same time-know what I mean?) Our medical paid about $30k for 5hrs of ER (leaving $700 for me to pay)ambulance was $800 leaving $500 for me, and air lift was $12,500 leaving $7200 for me to pay.
I really can't pay these unless I am able to collect from this claim. They were fairly prompt with paying for damage to the bike.
The adjuster has been nice, but is there one last thing I should do before retaining an atty?
Do you know the outcome of any similar cases where the accident was truely the fault of a wild animal?
Thank you so much! Just talking to someone about this that has some insight makes me feel better.
by the phrase "the insurance co will try to buy themselves out of this one", I meant this: The insurance company knows as a fact that they have $100K to pay you with (assuming the limits are that, they could have more or less as far as we know). They know that the worse case scenario is that. Even if they go to court, they cannot be obligated to pay more than $100K because they have contracted that much. The only way they can pay more is if they act in bad faith (which is unlikely).
So they know that this is the maximum they can pay. They also know that they can negotiate with you and that you have bills and other responsibilities that you have to pay for. So they will "delay" the process and tell you that your this claim is only worth $60K (or 80) or whatever it is. They will not pay unless you settle. They will try to buy a $100K case for $80K. They also know that legal fees are big, so they are motivated to settle for less because they know they can push you into it.
I do not mean to be cruel or anything. You are in a very bad position and your husband is irreplaceable, but the insurance company will try to diminish this and have you settle for less than the limits so they save money. They do not care whether you have a child or that you really need this money.
The real issue about the wild animal is clear (to me anyway, without looking at any other facts). Usually the law does not fault wild animals. They are not "a party" that can be negligent. In your case, the vehicle that hit your husband is at fault.
They were driving too close or too fast for conditions (the reason why they are paying for damages and they have to pay you). Driving regulations require a safe distance (because of deer or because of children), here that did not occur and that is why that driver is at fault. So in looking at your claim, do not look at it as it was the fault of a deer because you would be tented to accept a lower settlement.
You can try to negotiate the claim yourself up to certain point. I have seen clients negotiate certain amount (let's say 50K) and come to the office and say, hey I know I can get 50K already, I will pay you 30% of whatever you can get above and beyond that point.
This is perfectly legal and you can contract this in the attorney agreement. If an attorney does not accept this, then move on to the next. There will be an attorney that will be willing to take your case. Make sure that you put this conversation in writing.
I am not sure if this helps you any. I cannot longer answer more questions (I cannot ethically get more involve in your case), but this should help you take a better outlook and make a decision.
Good Luck and I will put you and your family in my prayers.
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