State Farm Insurance Company’s failure to accept a policy-limit settlement demand after its insured struck a pedestrian in a city crosswalk resulted in a recent settlement of $485,000 for a Kuhlman & Lucas client. Attorneys Chad Lucas and Matt Wengert represented the client and negotiated the settlement prior to trial.
On December 3, 2015, our client was struck by an SUV while crossing the street in a crosswalk in downtown Wichita, Kansas. As a result of the collision, our client sustained a left subdural hematoma (brain bleed), rib fractures and a tibial plateau fracture of the left knee, necessitating surgery and the placement of hardware. The seriousness of the injuries resulted in a stay of over a month at a local hospital/rehabilitation facility.
Despite both the defendant and State Farm denying liability for the collision, Kuhlman & Lucas attorneys uncovered a recording of the defendant admitting she struck our client while in the crosswalk. State Farm was provided with a copy of the recording and still denied liability for the accident, forcing Kuhlman & Lucas to file a lawsuit against the defendant.
During the lawsuit, Kuhlman & Lucas attorneys proposed resolving the lawsuit against the defendant by agreement, with the defendant admitting fault and agreeing to let the court determine damages at an evidentiary hearing. This type of agreement is permitted in Kansas pursuant to the holding in Glenn v. Fleming, 247 Kan. 296, 799 P.2d 79 (Kan. 1990). As an additional part of the agreement, the defendant would also assign her rights to any negligence/bad faith claims against State Farm to our client. In exchange, our client would agree not to execute on the judgment against the defendant beyond the insurance policy limits of $100,000.
Prior to the defendant entering the agreement, State Farm retained its own counsel in an attempt to settle the lawsuit without Kuhlman & Lucas taking a judgment against its insured and filing a subsequent “bad faith” lawsuit. After nearly a week of negotiations, State Farm agreed to pay our client $485,000, well in excess of the insurance policy limits. This successful result is clear evidence that Kansas law requires insurance companies to protect the interests of its policy holders and that insurers are required to conduct full and complete investigations of claims against its insureds.
If you have questions about bad faith law or have been injured by the negligence of another, contact the attorneys at Kuhlman & Lucas to discuss your potential claim.