Butler Kahn recently settled a fatal car accident case for $1.5 million, the full insurance limits. Our firm had the privilege of representing the family of Ms. Holly Ritter in this wrongful death case. (We have changed some names out of respect for the family’s privacy.)
Car Accident Leading to Fatality
It was just after midnight on October 18, 2021, when Holly and her boyfriend were stuck in traffic coming home from a baseball game. According to her boyfriend, as they were waiting their turn to merge onto I-75 from an entrance ramp, the driver of a Ford Mustang behind them began revving the engine and weaving left and right – as if to warm up the car’s tires, like race car drivers often do. As both cars began to accelerate to merge onto I-75, the Mustang driver continued to follow closely on the tail of Holly’s car.
What happened next is unclear. Holly’s boyfriend said he changed lanes to his left to allow the aggressive driver to pass, then slowed down after losing sight of the Mustang. Data from the Mustang’s “black box” would later show that it was travelling at speeds of over 120 miles per hour just before the collision. Yet somehow, Holly’s boyfriend ended up parallel to the Mustang, and the two vehicles sideswiped one another, causing them to lose control and collide into opposite concrete barriers on either side of the highway. Holly’s boyfriend estimated he was driving at or around the speed limit of 65 miles per hour while maintaining his lane. Witnesses, however, reported that both cars were speeding and collided after both drivers attempted to change lanes at the same time.
Tragically, Holly did not survive the collision. She was just 28 years old. Holly was an aspiring actress who had already appeared in several films, advertisements, and television shows including “The Walking Dead.” She was also a talented singer, dancer, and musician who loved to play guitar, violin, piano, and ukulele. Holly is sorely missed by her family and friends who adored her many talents.
Auto Insurance Coverage for the Accident
Following the collision, both the driver of the Ford Mustang and Holly’s boyfriend were charged with felony vehicular homicide, speeding, and reckless driving. Butler Kahn filed a separate civil suit against the driver of the Ford Mustang on behalf of Holly’s parents. As is often the case in auto accident cases, the defendant did not have significant personal assets, leaving the automobile insurance limits as the only viable source of recovery. Fortunately, Butler Kahn was able to locate an umbrella insurance policy owned by the Mustang driver’s mother with whom she lived. This meant that in addition to the $250,000 liability insurance policy, the driver was covered by her mother’s insurance for an additional $1 million. Although the available insurance limits of $1.25 million were not enough to compensate for horrific loss that the family has endured, the family decided to settle the lawsuit out of court.
While Holly’s boyfriend was believed to have also borne some responsibility for causing the collision, Holly’s parents chose to extend a settlement offer without filing a lawsuit against him. Here, it was important to ensure that the insurance company disclosed all the available insurance coverage, as insurance companies are often reluctant to do so when there is an umbrella or excess policy. Butler Kahn examined the language of this particular insurance policy and confirmed that $250,000 was the limit of coverage for Holly’s boyfriend before sending this settlement offer. Despite being released of civil liability for this accident, the criminal charges against both Holly’s boyfriend and the driver of the Ford Mustang remain pending as of the time of this writing.
Settlement of Wrongful Death Case
We made sure that we had made contact with all the proper beneficiaries for a wrongful death claim, which allows for the family to recover for “the full value of the life” of the decedent. We set up an estate, which would allow for the collection of punitive damages and damages for pain and suffering. Then, at the request of the decedent’s family, we offered to settle the case for the full insurance limits of $1,500,000. The insurance companies accepted our offer, and the wrongful death case was settled.