$400,000 Settlement in Motorcycle Accident

Attorney Michael Brose and his legal team recently secured a $400,000 settlement for a young man injured in a 2011 motorcycle accident. Our client was driving his motorcycle southbound on Highway 13 in Clark County, Wisconsin when a car, driven by a 17-year old, failed to yield and pulled out in front of him. The client sustained severe injuries, including a broken pelvis, broken femur, collapsed lung, numerous contusions and other minor injures.  He experienced a long but successful recovery thanks to excellent medical care and physical therapy.

At issue in this case was insurance coverage for the teenaged driver. The driver, a minor, was under the joint custody of her divorced parents. One purchased the car, while the other secured the insurance for the vehicle. The insurance company disputed responsibility and denied coverage for its insured because the vehicle was not “owned” by the insuring parent.

We concluded that the insurer’s coverage defense was invalid. Pursuant to Wis. Stat. 204.34(1), and further established in Zepczyk v. Nelson, we found that an insurer could not refuse liability payment obligations to an innocent third party on grounds they asserted.

We also found that our client’s claim was further protected by Wis. Stat. 632.32(6)(b), which the court concluded in Rouch v. American Family Insurance, grants rights to third parties in liability contracts, independent of the validity of the contract between the insured and the insurer. The court further explained that the purpose of Wis. Stat. § 632.32(6)(b) is to protect third parties.

In effort to bring a swift resolution to the claim, we made two separate liability settlement attempts for policy limits. The insurer disregarded both, holding firmly to their coverage defense. Void of any reasonable settlement discussions and confident in our findings, we filed suit against the insurer.

Eventually the liability carrier acknowledged its baseless refusal to provide coverage, which allowed us to successfully resolve the claim against the insurer that exceeded its policy limits. With an undisputed $100,000 policy limits settlement from the Underinsured Motorist (UIM) policy, and $300,000 from the defendant’s insurer, the client received a combined settlement of $400,000. Had Doar, Drill & Skow not pressed the insurer as to its responsibility, the most the client would have been entitled to is $200,000.