Plaintiff Struck by a Driver Who Left the Scene of the Accident

This matter was settled a couple of months prior to trial for the full insurance policy limit of $2 million by WRSMH attorney Cliff Shapiro, after being wholly litigated for the past few years by attorney Bill Hepner. Plaintiff, who was crossing a large street at 2 a.m., was struck by a driver who left the scene of the accident. The defendant was found by the police at a traffic light, a few blocks away, asleep in his vehicle. The defendant denied that he was involved in the accident, but the police took him in and ran forensic tests on his vehicle.

Bill Hepner contacted the District Attorney's office, which he had dealt with on a prior hit and run case in which the driver was also caught, and was involved with them at various stages of the criminal matter. Eventually, the defendant pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and driving while intoxicated. There were still some issues regarding the comparative liability of the plaintiff, whom a witness said was crossing against the light, however, Bill thoroughly damaged defendant's attorneys' arguments with respect to this during the deposition of the defendant.

The plaintiff, who was in his late 20's at the time of the accident, sustained two broken legs, as well as numerous internal injuries, requiring a number of surgeries during his 3 month hospital stay. He also had a very large surgical scar down the center of his chest and abdomen. However, despite these injuries, he made a very good recovery and was able to start an out of state Masters of Business Administration program only a few months after getting out of the hospital. It was for this reason, and the fact that the defendant's insurance company believed that plaintiff's race would make a jury unlikely to give plaintiff a lot of money in the current political climate, that the company would not make a settlement offer close to the policy limit.

Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Hepner accused the insurance company of acting in bad faith, and cancelled a planned mediation, assuring the company that our firm would accept nothing less than the full policy amount, and would proceed to trial. Knowing that the case was prepared for trial, and fearing that a jury would award more than the policy, putting its client's assets at risk, the company finally agreed to tender its policy.

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