John L’s case became very, very complicated. He was involved in a hit-and-run accident around 2:00 a.m. on a highway with no lights and no witnesses. John had a $25,000 UIM policy. In California, there is a requirement that there be contact between the two vehicles, actual physical contact in a hit-and-run scenario, before a person can recover against their UIM policy. The police report did not indicate that there was contact between John’s motorcycle and the hit-and-run vehicle. However, our client in his statement on the police report said that there was contact–that a guy had hit him from behind and then he took off. The UIM adjuster was denying the claim saying there was no contact and that they had inspected the motorcycle and their inspection concluded that there was no contact.
We relied on some insurance code law sections. We presented these code sections to the UIM adjuster and let them know after giving them a recorded statement from John that they needed to take his word for the contact as they are his first-party insurance company. They owed him a fiduciary duty and they needed to protect him and take his word for it. The UIM adjuster ended up tendering the full $25,000 policy.
What made this case even more unique was that our client John ended up dying in a subsequent vehicle accident before he was able to sign the Release. However, in circumstances where UIM carriers offer their policy limits, the law is–unless stated differently in the contract–that there is no requirement that a Release be signed. We communicated this to the UIM adjuster. She ran it by counsel, agreed, and ended up sending the $25,000 to our office, but it was made out to our office and the Estate of the deceased client.
Therefore, we ended up scrambling through the file and finding that John had a cousin whose information he had given to us upon case intake. We called the cousin who put us through to John’s only living heir, an under-age daughter. Because of the estranged relationship between John’s ex-wife (the daughter’s mother) and our deceased client, the ex-wife would not allow us to speak to the only living heir and said that they wanted nothing to do with the money or John or us. So we waited for the daughter to turn 18, which happened about 6 months later. We had to go through the cousin to find the brother to talk to the daughter and ended up with the daughter signing a Declaration of Full Heir stating that she was the only heir to the Estate of our deceased client, John L.
We presented this Declaration to the UIM adjuster. The UIM adjuster wrote us a check for our fee and a check for the former deceased’s client’s living 18-year-old client, which she is going to use for college tuition. We believe that most Motorcycle Attorneys would (1) not know half the case law from a legal standpoint and (2), would not have gone the extra mile to put this whole thing together.
Another example that WE CARE…
We litigated Michael J’s case successfully for a decent recovery. However, before the case closed a local County hospital operated by the City attempted to collect from our client the portion of his bill that had not been paid by his insurance company. This is against California code in that balance billing in this particular instance is not correct or allowed. However, both the City, after talking to their attorneys, and the County, disagreed with the case law and ended up filing a lawsuit against our client regardless.
We ended up speaking to lawyers over at Blue Cross, Michael’s health insurance provider, as they have a duty to protect him. The lawyers from Blue Cross and the City/County ended up working it out and the balance billing lien of $15,000 against the case was dropped. Michael ended up getting a decent amount of money in his pocket due to our initiative.
A lot of other law firms would not go the extra mile to research the case law, the codes, nor take the effort to so proactively assist their client.