Charles M. Rittgers, pictured here with a local treasure hunter, recently resolved a case prior to trial for the maximum policy limit of one-million dollars. The metal-detector in this picture was used to find the motorcycle's headlamp that detached during the crash. The headlamp flew into a nearby soybean field and was not found by the police or accident reconstructionist experts after the crash. Retrieving the headlamp, which was a daytime running light, ended the argument the motorcycle was not plainly visible.
Insurance Company Tactic: Deny, Delay, and Defend
In any case, the at-fault party's insurance company will frequently deny, delay, and defend a claim. The denial puts pressure on the injured party, the delay causes financial stress, and the defense will rely on anything, even if not true, to attempt to escape responsibility. The deny, delay, and defend tactic puts additional stress and pressure on a person who has already been placed in a vulnerable financial situation. Acting quickly to resolve a case is important.
Hurdles To Overcome
In this case, an eighteen-year-old was working on a sport motorcycle that his uncle had given him. The motorcycle was a Yamaha XJ600. The motorcycle had a salvage title and needed work. As our client worked on the engine, he rode the motorcycle on the streets near his house for test drives. On July 6, 2018 a pick-up truck pulled out of a private driveway into our client's lane. The front of the pick-up truck clipped our client and he lost his leg below the knee.
The defense wanted to focus on the following:
- Our client did not have a motorcycle endorsement (Ohio requires an endorsement or motorcycle license to legally operate a motorcycle)
- Our client had no insurance on the motorcycle
- The defense claimed that there was no headlight on the motorcycle (required by Ohio law to make motorcycles more visible during the day and at night)
- There were long skid marks caused from motorcycle "burn outs" on the roadway near the crash site
- The motorcycle did not have a proper exhaust, so it was very loud and sounded fast
Receiving Maximum Value
The best way to resolve a serious injury case quickly and for the maximum result is to be fully prepared and ready for litigation. The best injury lawyers do more than write legal briefs and file lawsuits. Going to the scene, speaking with potential witnesses, hiring experts, and being creative drives the highest value in injury cases.
The following steps were taken to combat the potential defenses:
- An accident reconstructionist was hired
- A scene inspection was completed
- A treasure hunter with a metal-detector was used to find the headlamp which was more than fifty-feet into the soybean field and roughly eighty-feet from the crash site
- On the weekend, Charlie personally went to the area and spoke with multiple neighbors who lived near the crash site
- A one-time offer to settle within policy limits was made to the at-fault party's insurance company
Neighbors who lived on the street where the crash occurred gave Charlie statements that showed another young man lived in the area who raced his street bike down this same road. The other man was the cause of the long skid marks on the roadway. Charlie tracked down the other young man and a picture of his bike is included here.
Furthermore, our accident reconstruction confirmed that our client did not leave the long skid marks.
Finding the headlamp was also critical. Headlamps on motorcycles help riders be seen by other motorists. If the defense successfully argued that our client did not have a headlamp on the motorcycle, our client would share some, if not most of the fault, for the crash.
Maximum Settlement Reached Quickly
After obtaining additional facts and being armed with good information, a one-time offer to settle within policy limits was made to the insurance company. A demand for the policy limit of $1,000,000 was made and the insurance company decided to pay instead of fighting in order to avoid a bad faith claim which would expose their insured (at-fault driver of the pick-up) to a judgement above his insurance coverage.
The offer helped relieve the financial burden on our client and helped reduce some unnecessary stress so he could concentrate on his recovery.