Georgia Insurance Company Fails to Pay $25k So Ends Up Paying $7.5M

Insurance companies are a business. And a business has a bottom-line. But sometimes putting the bottom-line ahead of doing the right thing can be costly.

The mother of a Liberty County man who was fatally injured on Christmas Day 2018 as he rode his bicycle, settled her wrongful death claim for $7.5 million with the driver’s insurance company on December 22, 2020.

Accident Victim Killed on Bicycle Given a Day Earlier

Erik Konig of Hinesville was riding a bicycle he’d been given the day before in southeast Georgia.

Konig, who had “fallen on hard times” and was unemployed, was given a bike on Christmas Eve by  a “good Samaritan.” He was riding to Christmas Day services at about 7:30 p.m. when a Dodge Ram pickup hit him from behind on a local road.

The Hinesville Police Department reported that the 33-year-old Konig was in critical condition and comatose at the scene. He was transported to a local hospital. Konig died about two weeks later on January 8, 2019.

The police report didn’t say if charges were filed against the truck’s driver, Ronald Lairamore, Sr. The 66-year-old Lairamore told the investigating officer that the bicycle had no lights and that he didn’t see it. Lairamore wasn’t charged.

Driver’s Insurer Offered Settlement to Victim’s Mother

Only a few days prior to Konig’s death, Lairamore’s insurer, USAA, reached out to his mom and offered to pay its $25,000 policy limit. However, the insurance company added that its offer included a demand that any potential medical expenses be included in the settlement.

Erik Konig, who was unmarried, didn’t have any children; as a result, his next-of-kin, his mother, Andrea, held the claim. Ms. Konig’s attorney sent USAA a compromise proposal demanding the $25,000 limit and offering a “reasonable release” for any wrongful death claims by Ms. Konig or her son’s estate, as well as indemnification for any claims exceeding the policy limits. The attorney  gave the insurance company 36 days to respond, which was six days longer than Georgia law requires for a time-limited insurance demands. Ms. Konig and her attorney also allowed USAA 15 days for payment—five days longer than the state’s minimum.

But USAA failed to respond within that time period, so the victim’s mother brought a personal injury action against the driver of the truck in Liberty County Court.

From the driver’s prior statements, Ms. Konig and her attorney knew there was going to be an issue with the bike’s lighting. But the law firm’s investigation showed that Lairamore may have been under the influence of prescription drugs, which may have impaired his ability to drive safely and help explain why he didn’t see the bicyclist.

In December 2020, Ms. Konig and her attorney sent USAA an offer to settle for $7.5 million, and the insurer agreed and wrote a check.

What Do I Need to Know about a Personal Injury Settlement?

Like in this case, the insurance company tried to get Ms. Konig to take the $25,000 limit of the driver’s policy while her son was still in the hospital. That’s typical of how insurance companies approach personal injury settlements—they try to get you to agree to the least amount of money possible.

Because of this tactic, it’s critical that you hire an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer at Tobin Injury Law. An attorney can negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. They will send the insurance company a demand letter that discusses the merits of your case. After some back and forth, your attorney may suggest—based on his experience—that a fair offer has been made. But if the insurer refuses to negotiate, you may be forced to bring a lawsuit for damages.

When Dealing with an Insurance Company, Hire an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer

Personal injury settlements are not a do-it-yourself project. You need an attorney who has the experience to get you the compensation you deserve and one who will protect your rights.

At Tobin Injury Law, we have negotiated hundreds of personal injury settlements for our clients, ensuring that their needs and objectives are placed first. We know what your claim is worth, and we will devote all of our energy and efforts to producing a successful outcome for you and your loved ones.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle, truck, or auto accident, before you speak with a claims adjuster from an insurance company, contact an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer at Tobin Injury Law.