On May 25th, 2010, the personal injury lawyers at Murphy & Pressentin were retained to represent Client and her family for a severe bodily auto accident injury arising out of a March 25th head-on crash with a drunk driver at highway speeds. By the end of July 2010, two months after our retainer, the Insurance Company made us a policy limits settlement offer of $58,000, to be divided between Client and her family. The Insurance Company represented that the $58,000 insurance proceeds was “all the insurance that was available” to compensate our clients for their injuries.
The crash occurred on a Thursday evening, several hours after Drunk Driver had completed his workday. Drunk Driver was operating his personal auto which was covered by only minimum liability insurance. He was being sentenced to prison and had no assets for additional compensation. All looked lost for our clients.
Instead of settling, we advised Client that we needed to complete further investigation to determine if there was anyone other than Drunk Driver who might have responsibility for the crash. Although Drunk Driver was operating his own car, after work hours at the time of the accident, our review of the facts leading up to the crash suggested that Drunk Driver had attended his Employer’s “safety meeting” that afternoon. As a result, our review focused upon the Employer and this meeting.
Ultimately, our investigation established that Employer provided alcoholic beverages for its employees, including Drunk Driver, at the safety meeting. Our analysis concluded that Drunk Driver consumed 11 beers or more during the meeting, in the presence of his boss. We were able to establish by closed circuit cameras and timing analysis, that Drunk Driver consumed no alcoholic beverages after leaving the meeting and drove directly to the auto accident scene. Lastly, we were able to prove that Drunk Driver was a menace when he left his Employer, since his blood alcohol level was measured at .24 by blood test after crashing head-on into our clients.
As a result of our findings we contacted the Employer’s Commercial Liability Insurer and presented them with our findings and the facts which we were prepared to present to a jury, if necessary. We demanded that they pay our clients the Employer’s liability policy limit of $2,000,000. Employer’s Insurer agreed with our analysis and agreed to pay the Employer’s policy limits.
WE INCREASED THE GROSS RECOVERY OF OUR CLIENTS BY $2,000,000.
A Contingent Fee Agreement provided for our personal injury attorney’s fee of 25% if we were able to settle our clients’ case without filing a civil suit in court. In the event we had to resort to filing a civil Summons & Complaint, our fees increased to one-third (33%) per our retainer agreement.
We succeeded in settling this case without filing a civil court proceeding and increased our client’s NET RECOVERY to well over $1,000,000.