Tuesday, November 28, 2017

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished- Helping a Family Member

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished- Helping a Family Member

This afternoon I'm defending a deposition.  This is the only defense case I have open and it is pro bono for a friend.   It is not related to an injury manner.

My client took care of her elderly aunt for five years through a voluntary power of attorney (POA).  Client was basically at the beck and call of the Aunt to do things like take her around town or to the grocery store.  Out of the blue in comes a Man from out of state that is significantly younger than Aunt and about the same age as client.  Man and Aunt haven't seen each other in decades.  Man takes over Aunt's life, moves into her house, and my client is subsequently removed from power of attorney.  Man then decides he is going to have Aunt sue my client for acts she took that were authorized by the Aunt.  The damages are less than what Aunt is going to pay her lawyer to try the case. 

I've handled family cases before.  This included cases between members of my own family.  They are UGLY cases where nobody wins in the end.  The stress this case is going to cause on the Aunt and on my client from what I can tell isn't worth the money they are fighting over.  Both had a good relationship before Man enters the picture and my client is close to the only family that Aunt has left.  In addition, I've counter sued Man and it is likely to get ugly for him :). 

Tell your family you love them tonight.

Brian Dettman www.louisville-injury-lawyer.com Advertising Material.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Myth of Auto Insurance "Loyalty." Ongoing USAA Lawsuit.

UPDATE: USAA paid my client a fair sum to resolve his case. 

One of my current clients has been with USAA Insurance for years.  He is former military and a twenty year veteran in the Louisville Fire Department so USAA seemed like a good idea for him when he signed up.  Fast forward to when he actually needs to use his coverage....

While riding a bike in the bike lane in downtown Louisville he was hit by an at fault driver who was insured by Allstate.  My client was an avid triathlete and was in great physical shape before the crash.  He underwent conservative therapy in an effort to get back on track.  He also attempted to continue to do the one thing he loved, triathlons, but eventually reached the point where his pain was too much and he underwent a cervical fusion surgery.  Surgery was not something my client wanted because he is now limited in basically everything he does, including triathlons.

I can relate to this client because I'm equally stubborn.  I play ice hockey many times a week.  If someone crashed into me and I was getting treatment/recovering I'd continue to play hockey.  My play would deteriorate, but unless someone told me I'd 100% kill myself playing I'd continue to skate.  Same deal with my client, he continued doing triathlons.  His speed significantly deteriorated and there were races he could not finish due to pain.  Keep in mind he had no issues with his neck before he was hit by a car.

We initially received an offer from the at fault driver that was insufficient so I filed suit.  They told us this was a "soft tissue" case because my client waited too long to go get a surgery.  We were also told that the other driver had a different set of facts.  I deposed their driver and she folded under pressure.  I then demanded her policy limits and her insurance company paid.  Unfortunately, her policy limits were insufficient to cover my clients damages.  When a defendant does not have sufficient coverage the next thing we look to is called Under-Insured Motorist Coverage ("UM" Coverage).

My client purchased UM through USAA.  The purpose of this coverage is to step in the shoes of the at-fault driver should he/she have insufficient coverage.  This type of coverage is specifically bought and my client purchased it with the hope that when/if he needed it that his insurance company wouldn't put him thorough the ringer.  Part of this hope was based on the commercials USAA runs about people being members for life and them having great service.

I demanded my clients UM policy limits.  I was told that my client needed to get his head out of the clouds.  I replied that in addition to my client's significant injury he was a bit perturbed his own insurance company was making him jump through hoops and basically calling him a liar.  I told a USAA representative my client had paid premiums for years to USAA and the USAA representative told me that each and every year that premium expires so my client gets no credit for being a loyal member.  According to the law that is a correct statement of fact and I hope this USAA rep is just doing his job.  However, the way USAA advertises "members for life" and loyalty I find their position to be untruthful.   Don't pretend to be a loyalty based company if loyalty isn't worth anything.

We are set for trial in March.  Interestingly, the Allstate Lawyer will be defending USAA's money

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