Butler Kahn had the privilege of representing a 23-year-old man who was involved in a very serious motorcycle accident. Our client was riding his motorcycle straight through an intersection on a green light. The at-fault driver, who was a 16-year old girl, failed to yield and turned left as our client was crossing through the intersection. She essentially T-boned the motorcycle, which meant her vehicle also struck our client’s left leg.
Police diagram showing the point of impact
Injuries from the Motorcycle Accident
The collision caused devastating injuries to our client’s left leg. Below the knee, most of our client’s bones, muscles, arteries, and nerves were completely destroyed. Our client suffered a “traumatic amputation” of his left foot, meaning that his left foot was partially amputated by the force of the crash itself. Doctors were left with no choice but to surgically amputate our client’s left leg below the knee. Our client also underwent multiple surgeries to repair his femur, which was essentially shattered.
These injuries were life-threatening due to the amount of blood loss, as well as the risk of infection. Our client survived, but of course his life is now changed forever. After extensive and ongoing rehabilitation, our client is able to walk again with a prosthetic limb. He has been forced to make extensive changes in the way he must live his life, but he is thankful to be alive.
Our client’s motorcycle at the point of impact
Fault for Causing the Motorcycle Accident
Liability for this wreck—meaning who was at fault—was clear. Our client had the legal right of way, and police issued a citation to the young lady who crashed into his motorcycle. While she ultimately did plead guilty to the failure to yield citation, the young lady did not immediately admit fault at the scene. First, she claimed our client did not have his headlight on, so she wasn’t able to see him in the dark. Second, she claimed that our client was speeding.
Police investigated both of these allegations. First, they inspected the motorcycle at the scene and noted that its running lights were ON along the bottom of the bike. In fact, the bike had automatic lights that were always on when the engine is on. The headlight itself, however, was damaged in the wreck, so police were not able to see whether it was on at the time. Often if a vehicle uses a traditional incandescent lightbulb, there is physical evidence that can establish that the lightbulb was on based on how the filament is damaged – this phenomenon is called “hot shock.” But in other cases where a vehicle uses newer LED bulbs, that doesn’t happen and there is no such evidence. That was the case here. Secondly, as to the allegation that our client was speeding, all indications were that he was travelling at or just below the speed limit of 45 mph.
The damaged headlight on our client’s motorcycle
Insurance for Motorcycle Collision
Due to the severity of our client’s injuries, we recognized that the amount of insurance coverage available was not going to be enough to cover our client’s medical bills, let alone compensate him for his suffering. We investigated every avenue of recovery, but it appeared that the only viable source of recovery was the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. The insurance policy only provided for $100,000 in coverage. That was especially problematic since our client’s emergency room bills alone were huge, and that didn’t account for the extensive additional treatment he required, such as a prosthetic limb, physical therapy, and follow up orthopedic treatment.
Although constrained by the limited insurance coverage, Butler Kahn was able to recover a $225,000 settlement for this client and negotiate significant reductions in his medical bills.
As to the settlement, there were two rather unique factors at play. First, the at-fault driver lived with her divorced parents, so she had two different residences and therefore each parent’s insurance policy provided coverage. In other words, there was actually $200,000 in insurance coverage available, even though the insurance company initially represented that there was only $100,000 of available coverage.
Second, our client’s own insurance company first told us that there was no uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage available. However, the insurance company had failed to obtain the required “underinsured motorist coverage selection/rejection form.” Georgia law specifically requires insurance companies to have the customer sign a form declining uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, as a way of the customer giving informed consent if he or she elects not to purchase this type of coverage. Because our client’s insurance company did not do that, the law provided that our client was entitled to $25,000 of underinsured motorist coverage, for a total recovery of $225,000.
Medical Bills Arising from the Motorcycle Accident
As to our client’s medical bills, we had to fight with his health insurance company just to get the health insurer to pay for his hospital bills. As we unfortunately see all too often, the health insurance company tried to get out of covering the hospital bills. It took multiple appeals before our client’s health insurance would even process the hospital bill. We then had to argue with the hospital over the validity of its lien, meaning its claim to the settlement proceeds. Ultimately, we managed to get the hospital to withdraw its lien and the health insurance company to waive its claim for reimbursement (also known as subrogation). That put more money in our client’s pocket.
These efforts meant that our client was able to receive a meaningful recovery at the conclusion of his case. No amount of money could have fully compensated our client for his devastating loss, but it can make a difference in improving the quality of his life.
Our client’s review of Butler Kahn