We made things turn out better than hoped in a tragic, fatal motorcycle accident.
Jackie Dickert lost George, her beloved husband of almost a quarter century and father of her two children, in a tragic crash after he came home early from their beach vacation to go back to work. As George drove his motorcycle on North Pleasantburg Drive, a busy road in Greenville, the driver of a Ford van attempted a left turn from a side street across all four lanes of North Pleasantburg, slamming into the side of George’s motorcycle. Authorities learned the van’s driver’s license was suspended.
Despite a helmet, the punishing impact caused George devastating head trauma. It claimed his life less than 4 days later, shortly after their son arrived to say a final goodbye from his army deployment in Kuwait.
Grieving, lost, and fearing financial ruin from the loss of George’s income plus enormous medical bills, Jackie turned to a different lawyer for help. He asked us to handle this wrongful death case. We jumped in and here’s how we helped her achieve a better outcome than hoped.
- We found more insurance coverage. In a crash case, the initial insurance coverage comes from the at-fault car. Here, the at-fault driver drove someone else’s van. The van owner carried only $25,000 liability insurance, the state minimum. We searched for insurance held by the at-fault driver, but discovered he had none. This made sense, as his driver’s license was suspended.
But Jackie and her husband made a wise choice long before this accident to protect themselves – they bought underinsurance to pay when the liability policy wasn’t enough. We carefully researched their policies for every car in the home. We were relieved to find they had three underinsurance policies from two different insurance companies. As the result of a South Carolina law called “stacking”, we were able to combine the coverage to provide another $125,000.00 – 5 times the amount of the liability policy.
- We got all the insurance coverage in settlement. Using medical evidence and the family’s story to create a compelling portrait of their loss, we convinced all insurance companies it was in their best interest to pay.
- We got the health insurance reimbursement from the settlement dramatically reduced. In a case like this, where George underwent extremely expensive treatments including life support and multiple surgeries, the greatest threat to the family’s share of the financial settlement is medical bills. We instructed Jackie to file these bills with her health insurance, beginning the process of subrogation to repay it.
We successfully negotiated a reduction of the health insurance pay back to pennies on the dollar, maximizing the family’s recovery. This provided much-needed financial support after losing the primary earner.
- We facilitated a structured settlement for the Dickerts’ teenage daughter. In South Carolina, all child settlements must be approved by a judge to protect the child’s money – and protect the child from the money. To do that, we arranged a structured settlement to spread payouts over certain times after she reaches 18.
By the time we appeared before the judge for approval of the death settlement and the child settlement, all the hard work was done – including handling 3 defense lawyers for the insurance company and the highly detailed structured settlement paperwork requiring extreme precision to please the always–picky investment company.
I’m grateful we raised the hopes and spirits of a grieving widow who didn’t need the added stress of dealing with all this. Jackie didn’t know how auto insurance worked, or how to handle a death case, especially with the added complexity of a child. I’m thankful her first lawyer relied on us to safeguard her family’s right to the maximum available recovery- and I’m awful proud we made sure they got it.