Atlanta, GA – After more than three years, and the case getting set for trial, our client won a $600,000.00 (six hundred thousand dollars) settlement fresulting from a low-impact motor vehicle crash where no citation was given. We used a well-timed Holt demand as well as an Offer of Settlement under O.C.G.A. § 9-11-68 to ensure that Allstate Insurance Company would have to eventually do the right thing.
Lawyer Tip: When you send the insurance company a time-limited demand offering to settle the case, be sure that you time it right: don’t send it too soon before the insurance company can later argue that it did not have all of the necessary facts and medical evidence it needed to pay the amount you demand. Georgia law holds that when an insurer refuses to pay a reasonable offer to resolve a valid claim in a timely manner, it breaches a duty to protect its insured according to the terms of the insurance contract. In other words, when you send a demand, you need to give the insurance company a reasonable opportunity to say “yes, this makes sense, we have what we need to pay this victim.” That’s the key in this case to how we felt secure in a future bad faith action.
Despite minimum property damage to the vehicle, a credible medical causation defense, and a liability policy with Allstate Insurance Company for only $100,000.00, Tobin Injury Law secured a $600,000.00 settlement because of bad faith exhibited by Allstate.
Our client and her teenage daughter were driving in a parking lot located at the Hiram Pavillion shopping center in Hiram, Georgia. As they approached the parking lot exit, another driver drove through an empty parking space, and into our clients at a low-rate of speed. Because the impact occurred on private property, the at-fault driver was not issued any citation or warning by law enforcement.
Lawyer Tip: Any time a motor vehicle collision occurs on private property such as a parking lot outside a strip mall, you should still call the police. While the police will almost never issue a citation, you can still get them to prepare a police report which you can use to prove up your case.
As a result of the collision, our client suffered injuries to her lower back and neck which required pain medication and injections. Our client had been previously injured in a high-speed rear-end collision in Colorado years before this wreck. As a result of that earlier Colorado crash, it was documented that she experienced significant lower back pain, had a lower back surgical fusion, and underwent years of monthly pain management appointments, including through the time of the this crash.
Rather than placing the focus on her lower back pain, we focused on the client’s neck pain which medical records showed had begun only after this collision. We obtained medical narrative testimony from two of her pain management doctors who had treated her from before this crash and after this crash.
Lawyer Tip: when you file the case, make sure you meet with the doctors. Under O.C.G.A. § 24-8-826, a doctor can testify at trial without having to be present in the courtroom and can do so through a written report. In almost every case that Tobin Injury Law files, we get medical testimony via videotaped depositions and through medical reports under O.C.G.A. § 24-8-826. Be sure you file the report. The defense has 15 days to object to the report, or it is deemed admissible.
We filed the case in Douglas County State Court in March 2021. Even though the defendant driver’s Answer formally admitted that he was negligent and that he breached a duty owed to the plaintiff, we still chose to depose the defendant driver. Often in cases where negligence is admitted, choosing to depose the defendant may seem like an unnecessary expense. That couldn’t be further from the truth. You get to see what the person looks like and sounds like. Here, because of the defendant’s testimony and his conduct, the lawyers for the uninsured insurance carrier, USAA, withdrew the carrier’s answer in January 2022 and refused to answer in the name of the defendant.
After years of the case sitting and waiting for trial, Allstate upped its initial offer and offered to pay the full policy of $100,000.00. By then it was far too late. The clock on the time-limited demand and the Offer of Settlement expired.
With negotiations concluded, Allstate ultimately paid $500,000.00 (five hundred thousand dollars) which was $400,000.00 more than what the company was contractually required to pay. Our lawyers had secured $100,000 from the UIM carrier before settling for 5 times the policy with Allstate.