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Brain Injury Case

Truck driver’s accident results in brain injury. Machelle forces the auto insurance company to step up.

An over-the-road truck driver, “Carl” had 30 years of experience behind the wheel. One day, a passenger car carelessly merged into his lane, cutting him off. To avoid a crash, Carl swerved and, unfortunately, rolled the truck. His extensive injuries included a fractured skull and brain injury. Carl and his family turned to The Gielarowski Law Firm for help.

Here are key facts of the case:

  • Carl had recently moved from the state of Washington to Colorado. His auto insurance agent never transferred Carl’s personal automobile and motorcycle policies to the state of Colorado.
  • The passenger car that caused the accident was underinsured. In other words, the person who caused the auto accident did not have enough insurance coverage to compensate for all of his damages, including Carl’s substantial medical expenses.

Machelle and her team searched for additional insurance coverage, leaving no stone unturned. They discovered:

  1. The trucking company that employed Carl did not have underinsured motorist coverage on that truck. Essentially, this was a dead-end.
  2. Carl had several personal insurance policies that could provide coverage, but they were written in Washington, not the state of Colorado. These various policies provided additional coverage for Carl’s damages. Although this was not nearly enough to cover his ongoing medical needs, this was Carl’s best hope. Machelle scoured the complex motorcycle and auto policies, dense with industry jargon.
  3. Machelle deposed the agent who sold the policies. He DID know that Carl had moved to Colorado 2 years ago, but he did not transfer the policies. (Insurance agents often hold onto policies in order to continue receiving annual commission payments.)

The insurance company argued that the policies did not apply to accidents in Colorado and that Carl should have transferred the policies in order for them to render coverage.

Therefore, the key question was: Did the terms of the Washington policies apply to this accident? The trial court found that Washington law applied, therefore rendering Carl’s claims null and void. Machelle appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals. This court determined that, while the policies were written in Washington, Colorado law DID apply – and Carl could recover damages under those policies. This was good news for Carl.

By doggedly pursing this case, we forced the car insurance company to do the right thing and pay out on these policies. Next, we tackled the underlying Workers’ Compensation case. This was settled out of court, and Carl was able to receive a substantial amount of money for ongoing medical care. Due to his brain injury, Carl is unable to work and is receiving Social Security disability income.

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