Brianne, please describe a case where you made a big difference.
A woman who was paralyzed in a hit-and-run car collision came to me after her health insurance company demanded the entirety of the uninsured motorist (“UM”) personal injury settlement she received from her own auto insurance company. Three other firms in Colorado had declined her case and told her the health insurance carrier, an ERISA plan, had a right to the entire settlement and just to pay them and give up. I took her case. I discovered by reading the policy language that her health insurance plan only had a right to be paid back from settlements with the at-fault driver’s insurance company not settlements with her own insurance company. This was a hit-and-run; thus, there wasn’t a settlement with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company; only a settlement with her own auto carrier. Due to my work on her case, she was able to keep her settlement money and use it to modify her home, as she now requires a wheelchair from the collision. I am proud to be able to help people when they don’t know where to turn.
Jerrod, please discuss a workers’ compensation case where you used your understanding of the system to help a client.
I represented a cowboy who was a ranch hand and laborer in a rural part of Colorado who was unable to work due to a severe injury on the job. Prior to my involvement in his case, the workers’ compensation insurance company had incorrectly calculated his average weekly wage, which is common, and was only paying his wage payments off of his modest hourly wage. I reviewed how he was paid, and discovered he received living expenses, including his housing each month, as part of his pay. I went to bat for him and was able to get the insurance company to include these other wage benefits as part of his average weekly wage, which translated into higher monthly wage payments and increased benefits and settlement money for my client. Understanding the workers’ compensation system and how to maximize clients’ benefits is super important.
Vinny, you have mentioned that many personal injury cases can be resolved without filing a lawsuit; however, please explain a situation when a lawsuit and trial became necessary.
Brianne and I represented a client who was involved in an automobile accident and she had thousands of dollars in outstanding medical bills, in addition to wage loss, pain and suffering, and some lingering ongoing pain. Despite our best efforts, the insurance company only offered about 10% of what her total medical bills were and refused to offer anything for her pain and suffering and other damages. We went to trial in her case and the jury awarded her all of her medical bills and also compensated her for pain and suffering and wage loss. Thus, we will do everything we can to give the insurance company everything they need to evaluate the claim; however, if they are still being unreasonable, we have many years of litigation experience and will not shy away from using it.