Take the case of the Cardona family from Palmdale, California. They asked the R. Rex Parris Law Firm for help after Jose Cardona, his wife Irene and their son Eduardo were seriously injured when a drunk driver crossed the center line and collided head-on with their vehicle.
Like many people injured in motor vehicle accidents in California, the Cardonas stood to get very little in the way of compensation from the offending driver.
The offending driver was insured, but most Californians carry only the minimum amount of insurance. Known as the 15-30 policy, it offers a single victim of an accident only $15,000 and an aggregate amount of only $30,000 if more than one person is injured or even killed.
“The Cardonas are in their 60s,” says Fowler. “Jose Cardona suffered serious injuries to his legs and knees. Prior to this he was a healthy man, but he now uses a walker to get around. His wife suffered a complex fracture to her wrist and has pain so excruciating in the upper part of her body that she sometimes passes out from the pain. And their son had to drop out of trade school until his abdominal injuries were sufficiently healed.”
He spends all his available time now caring for his parents. And Jose and Irene Cardona can no longer provide daily care for their grandchildren as they once did.
It takes a skilled lawyer with an in-depth understanding of how the insurance industry works in order to make accident victims whole again when there are serious injuries and only a 15-30 insurance policy to cover the costs.
Since it is unlikely that the defendant in these kinds of cases has large pools of money available to fairly compensate the victims of the accident, attorney Fowler looks for opportunities to pursue the insurance company for additional compensation.
In this case, Fowler wrote to the insurance company on behalf of the Cardonas and offered to settle for the $30,000, if the company would pay out in a reasonable period of time.
Insurers have an obligation to do due diligence on behalf of their client and make sure the policy payout is appropriate.
However, when the drunk driver’s insurer defaulted and failed to pay out on behalf of its client in a timely fashion, Fowler advised the Cardonas to sue the driver directly for an amount that was commensurate with their injuries and the change in lifestyle the family suffered.
“There are other strategies that go along with that,” says Fowler. “But we are simply advocating for our clients to put them in the best position to get fair value for the damages they have suffered. The insurer could have paid out when we asked but they failed to do that.”
The firm obtained a verdict in favor of the Cardona family, and Los Angeles Superior Court (Cardona v. Cortes, Case No. MC023925) ordered that they be compensated in the amount of $20,968,903 for pain, suffering, loss of income and future medical care as required.
Under the California Insurance Code, the company has an obligation to the people they insure. The driver admitted to being drunk at trial but disputed the extent of the Cardona family injuries. He will now have to sue his insurance company to get the money.
And since the court has delivered a verdict that clearly indicates the Cardonas deserve compensation well in excess of the 15-30 policy, there is reason to believe the insurance company will ultimately foot the bill.