Underinsured Drunk Driver Rear Ends Police Cruiser Injuring Chelsea Officers
On November 10, 2002, while requesting the license and registration from a driver during a routine traffic stop in Chelsea, a drunk driver rear ended the parked police vehicle launching it into the two police officers.
One officer suffered fractures to his left foot and ankle requiring surgery and hardware. His partner suffered injuries to his right knee requiring surgery, along with neck and back injuries. Both officers missed significant time from work.
The driver of the motor vehicle fled the Commonwealth after serving his jail sentence. The owner of the vehicle was underinsured. After impaneling a jury, the owner agreed to pay for the damages and a settlement was reached.
See Suffolk Superior Court Docket Number 04-342.
Underinsured Taxi Collision Results in Collection of Full Underinsurance Coverage
On February 8, 2010, our client, Raven, was walking to the Redline T at Kenmore Square. When she got to the crosswalk in front of the Marriot Hotel, she looked to her left. There were no vehicles entering. Unfortunately, a taxi driver, Akim, who neglected to use his turn signal, turned right, heading due east. The morning sun blinded him and he struck Raven in the crosswalk.
The left side of Raven’s head broke the taxi’s windshield. She fell to the street with multiple fractures on the right side of her head. She was admitted to the Massachusetts General Hospital, where she remained for a week in the intensive care trauma unit, with a severe traumatic brain injury. After several more weeks at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, she was released. She was not able to return to work full time.
But Raven’s recovery, which was wonderful considering her injuries, is not the story here. Underinsurance is. The taxi company, like almost all taxi companies in Massachusetts, had the minimum insurance coverage: $20,000. Considering that Raven’s hospital and medical bills exceeded $100,000.00, lost wages and earning capacity were high and the pain and suffering was significant, the taxi’s insurance company immediately offered their $20,000 policy.
However, we could not allow Raven to accept the monies, as we had to file a claim with her own insurance company for underinsurance. This is because her company is entitled to do an insurance and asset check of the driver. While Akim had no assets (no real estate or other such assets) he did have a motor vehicle at home, and that vehicle had a separate policy. Thus, we had to ask Akim’s insurance company to see if they would afford coverage. Unfortunately, Akim fled the country and his insurance company had “trouble” finding him.
We did not let that stop us. We were aggressive in pursuing Akim’s insurance company. We sent Akim’s insurance company a Consumer Protection letter, under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 93A and 176D. They denied they were delaying responding to our request for an answer to coverage. Nevertheless, they immediately issued a denial of coverage (which is what was expected because Akim was driving an insured commercial vehicle).
Thus, we went back to Raven’s insurance company and got permission to settle with the taxi company’s insurance company. With the letter from Akim’s company, they immediately granted permission. Now, we had to provide all the medical records and bills to Raven’s company to seek a settlement. Fortunately, Raven had significant underinsurance coverage, and we were able to prove to the insurance company that her injuries were so substantial that they paid Raven’s full policy.