In November of 2014, attorney Mark Dana helped Wayne DeMarco defeat Travelers Insurance Company in a Landmark Rhode Island injury accident case. Dana was able to get Traveler’s Insurance to pay Wayne DeMarco the money he deserved, plus the interest due because DeMarco’s court case took so long to finally be settled.
In September of 2003, DeMarco was seriously injured as a passenger in a vehicle driven by another party, when the driver crashed into two utility poles. The driver of the vehicle was insured by Travelers Insurance Company, who was financially responsible for paying out the claim.
It was determined that the driver of the vehicle was ultimately liable for the crash, which did not involve another vehicle. Another passenger was also injured during the crash. This placed the financial responsibility solely on the driver’s insurance carrier, Travelers Insurance.
The driver had a policy limit of $1 million. In March of 2004, a lawsuit was filed on the behalf of DeMarco for the full policy limit. At this time, the other injured party had not yet filed their claim for any type of compensation.
DeMarco’s attorney asked for the full policy limits for his client, but Travelers was not willing to give the full settlement to DeMarco only. The other injured passenger filed suit in 2006 for almost the entire policy limit as well.
Here was the problem that DeMarco encountered by Travelers. They were willing to settle for the full policy limit, but they were not willing to pay the $1 million limit to just DeMarco only. They wanted to split the limits between both injured parties as well.
However, when DeMarco first filed suit, the other injured party had not yet filed their claim. Travelers were willing to settle, but they were unwilling to pay out the policy limits solely to DeMarco.
DeMarco’s attorney used a case that went before the Rhode Island Supreme Court Asermely v. Allstate Insurance Co, which stated an insurance company that rejects a settlement offer would ultimately be responsible for any amount that might exceed the policy limits, unless they were able to prove that the person filing the claim was unwilling to accept the settlement offer.
The grey area here was in the settlement offer by Travelers Insurance which was far below the costs that DeMarco would need to get his life back in order and pay off all his medical bills.
This case shows why it is so important to get a quality attorney who is willing to fight for a client’s compensation. If it was up to Travelers, DeMarco would have received a settlement that would have been far below what he actually needed to get back to the quality of life he had prior to the accident.
During the negotiation process, DeMarco’s attorney asked on multiple occasions for Travelers to pay the full policy limit. Travelers did not respond to the three previous attempts for settlement. A year after the last offer, and three months before the trial, Travelers sought a settlement for all parties involved for the policy limits. Ultimately, the judgment went in favor of DeMarco for the amount of, $2,801,939 which included the accrued statutory interest. That amount was obviously much more than what Travelers were willing to pay.
Travelers Insurance Appeals the Judgement
In the appeal process, Travelers Insurance argued that the Rhode Island Supreme Court case that DeMarco’s attorney used as precedent did not apply in this instance. The cited case was for an individual claimant, and they argued that their settlement offer was fair since they had to pay more than one claimant with the $1 million policy limit.
Their argument was ultimately dismissed in the appeal process. The court ruled that Travelers had a responsibility to settle all the claims in a fair and timely manner. The court went on to rule that the insurer had to negotiate as if there were not any policy limits in place.
They further went on to state that it is the responsibility of the insurer to keep in mind the best interests of the insured so that they do not incur any sort of excessive liability for the accident. Since DeMarco was not liable for any of the costs associated with the accident, then it was up to Travelers Insurance to make sure their settlement met his individual needs.
Even after the initial judgment went in favor of DeMarco, Travelers continued the appeal process and the case dragged on until June of 2012 where an order was released that Travelers had 11 days to make a payment to DeMarco. Travelers ignored the judgment and did not make the payment to DeMarco when it was due.
It took DeMarco over two more years to finally get a judgment in his favor. Travelers continually tried to use the policy limits as the basis of their settlement offer. Had DeMarco not had a quality attorney, he would have received only a quarter of the settlement that he was ultimately awarded.
During that time, DeMarco had to deal with the financial consequences of an accident where he was not at fault. Had he taken their initial settlement, he would have been left with a significant amount of medical expenses and other associated costs.
He still had to wait 10 years just to receive the money that he deserved. During that time, DeMarco has been liable out of his own pocket for all the medical expenses. This is why it is so important to hire a quality attorney who won’t let their client settle for less than they deserve. DeMarco has been able to use the settlement money to get himself back to the quality of life he was enjoying previous to the accident. Without a good attorney representing his interests, his life would have forever been changed for the worse as a result of being the victim of an accident.