Many commuters consider 2018 as “the year of the scooter” with Bird and Lime having started an electric battery-operated scooter service in California late in 2017. With a maximum speed of 15 mph, these short-range electric vehicles consist of a narrow platform on which the rider stands with 1 foot in front of the other and a waist-high rod with handlebars for steering. After kicking off initially with 1 foot, riders accelerate and brake the scooter using triggers activated with their thumbs. The e-scooters are located and unlocked using a downloaded smartphone application, rides are paid for by the minute, and the ride can be ended anywhere the rider decides.
Insurance Litigation Defense
The landscape of insurance coverage in this era of the COVID-19 Pandemic is likely to change as insurance lawsuits are being filed to determine scope of insurance coverage. Meanwhile, in direct response to COVID-19, several states are attempting to modify Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance policies through legislation to provide coverage, particularly business interruption insurance, post hoc-after the fact. President Trump has commented that businesses have paid premiums for business interruption insurance for years and relief should be available to insureds. It is important for businesses to take precautionary measures to preserve whatever coverages might be available, especially as the case law and legislation changes to meet the COVID-19 pandemic.
As more than a billion people are under some sort of quarantine law and numerous US states and foreign countries have “shelter in place” laws now shuttering many businesses, COVID 19 has caused a financial crisis for many businesses.
Attorney Alex Sweis recently settled a high exposure cervical fusion claim for a high cost of defense, take it or leave it offer. The plaintiff in the case allegedly sustained cervical herniations at levels C3-C6. The plaintiff did undergo a three level fusion surgery and demanded the entire commercial policy from the insured’s carrier.
Plaintiff argued that Alex’s client was at fault for causing the automobile collision in snowy conditions. Plaintiff contended that Alex’s client lost control in the snow and merged into plaintiff’s lane of travel. The rear driver’s side of Alex’s client’s car made contact with plaintiff’s front passenger side fender. Alex’s client and the Illinois traffic crash report both state that it was the plaintiff who lost control trying to pass Alex’s client’s vehicle and crashed into it.
The plaintiff did not seek emergency room care and presented to his primary medical provider nine days after the accident. He did complain of neck pain and lower back pain. He was sent to a pain doctor and did undergo a cervical MRI. The MRI showed herniations at C3-4, C4-5 and C5-6. Plaintiff also complained of lower back pain and his lumbar MRI showed disc bulges at L2-3, L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1. Four months after the accident, plaintiff underwent the three level cervical fusion surgery. Plaintiff’s total medical bills were over $150,000. Plaintiff made a policy demand for Alex’s client’s entire $350,000 commercial policy limit.
Alex reviewed the plaintiff’s medical records from before the car collision. The pre-accident records did show prior lumbar and cervical injury and herniations. Most importantly, the prior records disclosed that plaintiff underwent a cervical epidural steroid injection eight months before the car accident occurred. During the litigation, the parties became aware that the plaintiff’s cervical fusion surgeon had passed away.
Facing a policy demand, fusion surgery and over $150,000 in medical bills, Alex and the carrier agreed that the case was not only defendable, but the case value was nowhere near $100,000. Alex and plaintiff’s counsel had a very short settlement negotiation. The only offer made, and that would be made, was $45,000, period. With the pre-accident injury, conflicting liability statements, and the death of plaintiff’s surgeon, Alex and the carrier determined that the case would either settle for high costs of defense or posture for trial. During the only phone call with plaintiff’s counsel, Alex informed him of the take it or leave it offer. Plaintiff’s counsel thought Alex was overconfident and Alex replied, it is not about confidence when you have the facts. The case did settle for $45,000 from the $350,000 policy demand.
Even though the case did feature elements of a potential excess jury verdict, the decision was made that some cases need to be tried or settle for a strict cost of defense offer. For more information about the case or other litigation questions, please contact attorney, Alexander Sweis.
If you found this article valuable, you may be interested in reading other articles by attorney Alex Sweis related to insurance defense litigation and settlement options.
In just eight weeks, McKenna Storer attorney Alex Sweis delivers an expedient settlement with optimal results for his insurance client. [Read more…] about When an Expedient Settlement in an Insurance Defense Case Works Best
In insurance coverage litigation, bad faith claims are somewhat common. Bad faith actions, under section 155 of the Illinois Insurance Code, provide a remedy to insureds for an insurance company’s vexatious and unreasonable refusal to honor its contract with the insured.
One of the most important considerations in insurance coverage cases is determining whether an insurance company has a duty to defend and a duty to indemnify its insured. But how is this determination of insurance coverage made?
The Law Division of the Cook County Circuit Court rang in the New Year with a new HIPAA Qualified Protective Order (QPO) following Judge John Ehrlich’s memorandum opinion in Shull v. Ellis, No. 15 L 9759. The New HIPAA QPO requires a party claiming personal injury to consent to an explicit waiver for other parties, including insurance companies, to use that party’s private health information (PHI). The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) does not apply to property and casualty insurance companies. However, the Cook County Law Division’s new HIPAA Qualified Protective Order will affect property and casualty insurance companies in the following ways:
When the holiday season rolls around, most people think of thanksgiving dinners, Christmas shopping and spending time with family and friends. As folks prepare for the holiday season, insurance defense counsel prepare for the increased potential for year-end insurance settlements. Both the plaintiffs and the defendants have incentives for settling cases before the beginning of the new year. Plaintiff’s would enjoy some extra shopping money for the holidays. From a tax perspective, money received in the current year is better than turning the tax calendar year over, since taxes are usually only going up. This is an incentive for individual plaintiffs and their attorneys to receive the settlement money and fees before the next tax year.
Insurance coverage for underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage laws are often times confusing. One source of such confusion is the determination of coverage owed when there are multiple tortfeasors. The recent case of Illinois Emcasco Ins. Co. v. Tufano, 2016 IL App (1st) 151196 provides guidance in this circumstance.