Policy Limits for Client Run Over by Tractor - Trailer

Client Run Over By Tractor-Trailer Gets Full Policy Limits

In 2017, another law firm referred us a very serious injury case. The client sustained catastrophic injuries, including multiple broken bones, when a tractor-trailer ran her over while she was walking in a parking lot. The referring law firm had the case for nearly two years but was unable to get an offer from the insurance company. The insurance adjuster argued that there was no evidence that the truck driver was negligent, and in any event, they argued that our client was negligent in failing to get out of the way.

The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. Files a Lawsuit

The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. filed a lawsuit shortly after getting the case. We sued the truck driver, his employer, and the insurance company. While insurance companies generally are not proper parties to lawsuits, Georgia law allows an insurance company to be named as a defendant in cases against a motor carrier. The defendants responded to the lawsuit and denied all liability. While the insurance company had earlier denied that it had to pay because its driver was not negligent, it was now contending the exact opposite. Now, it argued that there was no insurance coverage because the truck driver intentionally ran over our client! This change in position was surprising, but it is not unusual for insurance companies to do whatever it takes to avoid paying a claim.

The Insurance Company Pays $1,000,000 to Settle

The truck driver who ran over our client was criminally charged with running her over shortly after it happened. Those charges were pending up until the time we got the case. The insurance company knew it. Everyone knew it. Yet they still took the absurd position that he was not even negligent and that our client was at fault. After we got the case, the criminal case went to trial and the truck driver was convicted of the charges related to the wreck. Based on this conviction, the insurance company told us there was no coverage because it was an intentional act. Many insurance policies contain exclusions for intentional acts.

The problem for the insurance company was that it had not raised this argument earlier. Darl Champion sent the insurance company a detailed letter that explained why it had waived any argument about coverage. As in many states, Georgia law requires insurance companies who have a coverage defense to raise it or waive it. If an insurance company is aware of a defense to coverage and handles a claim without raising the defense, it cannot later argue that there is no coverage. The letter cited the case law in Georgia on this topic and demanded that the insurance company pay the full $1,000,000 in available insurance coverage.

Shortly before the deadline was set to expire, the insurance company accept our demand. The insurer agreed that it had waived its coverage arguments because it had not raised them earlier. As a result, it agreed to pay its full $1,000,000 in insurance coverage. If The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. had not made the waiver argument to the insurance company, it is likely that our client would have never recovered a dime. Instead, our client got a $1,000,000 settlement and the justice she deserved for what happened to her.