Michelle Botchey: A $1,300,000 Excess Verdict

Negligent Driver

As I have explained before, if you have been seriously injured, it is crucial for you to know how often your attorney has tried personal injury cases, as well as his/her win/loss record, as well as what he/she considers to be a “win.” Another very important piece of information that you must know is whether your attorney has ever achieved what is called an “excess verdict.”

An excess verdict is extremely important, as it represents a substantial threat to the insurance company. Many attorneys have never achieved an excess verdict. I am proud to say that I have achieved dozens. You can bet the insurance companies are very well aware of that. Let me explain why.

When anyone obtains a policy of insurance, there are what are called “limits of liability coverage.” What that means is that there is an amount of money that the insurance company is potentially liable to pay, over which there is no coverage, absent an exception of bad faith. Bad faith will be the topic of another discussion. First one needs to understand excess verdicts, for without an excess verdict, there can be no insurance bad faith.

So a defendant may be insured by a policy that has limits of $10,000, $25,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000, or even more. The point is, if you give the insurance company the opportunity to pay the policy limits, and you are awarded an “excess verdict,” that means that you were awarded a jury verdict in excess of the policy limits. If your lawyer is successful in doing so, there is a potential that you can then bring an action against the insurance company for the difference between the policy limits and the jury’s verdict, which is obviously the “excess” amount. Let me give you an example.

It was my privilege to represent a young woman named Michelle Botchey, who was permanently injured by a negligent driver. The negligent driver was uninsured, but Michelle had uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage with limits of only $100,000. We demanded the $100,000 policy limits, but her insurance company refused to pay, even after we showed many reasons why her case was worth more than $100,000.

Nevertheless, her insurance company refused to “tender” policy limits, and off to trial we went. Her insurance company defended the case by claiming that her injuries were actually caused by her duties as a pediatric nurse, lifting patients, heavy equipment and what have you. We countered that argument by proving that at the time she was crashed into by the negligent defendant, she had only been a nurse for approximately 6 weeks! She was in her early 20’s. There was obviously no way that she had any kind of degenerative condition as claimed by the defendant/insurance company and the jury came back with an award of approximately $1,300,000. We are now in the process of obtaining the “excess,” which is the difference between the $1,300,000 jury verdict, and the $100,000 policy limits. With interest.

The reason this is so important, is that many attorneys, being that Michelle had limits on her insurance policy of only $100,000, would have accepted less than that amount to settle her claim. Not us.

As usual, if you have any questions about this post or its content, feel free to contact my office at (904) 475-9400 or, if you prefer, you can contact me on my personal cell phone at (904) 607-8888. When you are seriously injured, your choice of attorneys can be the most important decision in your life.

$1,300,000 Excess Verdict!

An excess verdict above the insured amount of $100,000!

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