A 34 year old music teacher was an Oakland pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk when a driver failed to be aware of his surroundings and struck her. The blow of the impact caused her to briefly lose consciousness. She also suffered a fractured collarbone and separation of her AC joint. She was rushed to Highland Medical Center by ambulance for emergency medical treatment.
Our client was unconscious just after the accident, so she had no memory of the accident or how it occurred. Therefore, the police officers could not collect information to accurately tell her side of the story. The police essentially wrote a report based almost entirely on the at-fault driver’s statement, which was obviously self-serving. The police report came out against the pedestrian, showing her at fault for the accident. She contacted Oakland injury lawyers at Sally Morin Law to help her, as she knew she needed an experienced advocate to help prove that the pedestrian vs. auto accident was not her fault.
Soon after being hired, our office tracked down an independent witness to tell an unbiased account of the incident, resulting in our client being relieved from liability for the accident. As soon as the liability dispute was resolved in our client’s favor, our office diligently investigated the at-fault driver for all available insurance coverage and personal assets to see what they were capable of paying for our client’s serious injuries. Sadly, the driver only carried $50,000 of auto liability insurance and had no assets from which further monies could be recovered. We therefore investigated our client’s own underinsured insurance to see if she had any possible coverage. Unfortunately, she did not have auto insurance, but her fiancé did. After much research and pressing the insurance company for their coverage information, we reviewed the official policy documents, which revealed a specific coverage exclusion for anyone who was not a blood relative or legal spouse. This is one of those instances where it just does not seem fair, as they were living in the same household and almost married. However, the policy language was clear, and she was not covered under the policy. However, you want to be sure to protect yourself against underinsured drivers, as there are many drivers out there without any insurance, let alone adequate insurance coverage.
After learning of the policy limits and no coverage under her fiancé’s underinsured motorist coverage, our client feared that she would owe thousands of dollars in medical bills, not to mention be stuck with the bill for legal costs and fees. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate our client’s medical bills down significantly so that she could end her case with money-in-hand after payment of all medical and legal costs in her case. Our client was very surprised and pleased with the result. Although having great insurance coverage from either the driver or our client would have been optimal, Sally Morin Law was able to turn lemons into lemonade in this instance, and we pride ourselves on doing so in any of these “tough” low-limits cases. In the end, what really matters is if the client walks away happy!