On a warm and bright May afternoon, Michael G. was stopped in his car at a traffic light. He was headed home from work. Michael was recently promoted at work. His wife and one year old daughter eagerly waited for him, since he was expected home earlier than usual. Michael thought about the moment he would burst into the front door of his home to his family’s smiles and excitement. He was their primary financial support and was proud of that fact.
As Michael waited at a red light, he listened to 1010 WINS on the radio. The weather promised to be warm and sunny for the weekend, and Michael looked forward to a family barbeque on Sunday. This day was unremarkable in every respect – that is, until the unimaginable happened.
The driver behind Michael’s car was driving over 40 miles per hour while looking down at her phone. She didn’t look up, she didn’t touch the brake, and she didn’t sound her horn. It didn’t seem like she saw Michael’s car at all – it was as though he was invisible.
This driver struck Michael’s car with such force that he later described the sound as a “bomb going off”. The force of impact threw Michael’s vehicle forward several feet and his head snapped violently back and forth. Michael thought his neck was broken and felt a burning chest pain from the seatbelt.
After the fog and shock abated, Michael got out of his car to check on the other driver. She seemed ok. Michael figured he was also ok since he could walk — but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Michael had ruptured three discs in his neck, which would require months of physical therapy, multiple injections, epidurals, and ultimately surgery. He would live with this injury for the rest of his life.
This neck injury was incredibly debilitating for Michael and affected every facet of his life. He worked primarily on commission and could not return to his prior pace at work. He required frequent breaks, time off for doctors’ visits, and was constantly distracted by debilitating neck pain. His working hours dwindled, productivity waned, and Michael was eventually fired.
Now jobless, and still suffering from tremendous injuries, Michael faced a potentially devastating financial situation. How would he pay his mounting bills and mortgage? Could he even afford the co-pay to see his doctors? Could he ever be as productive as before the crash?
Perhaps more devastating than his physical injuries were the self-deprecating thoughts that crept into Michael’s mind; “I’m a terrible father, I can’t even provide for my family.” he thought. He confided to his wife, “I feel like I’m disappearing”.
With seemingly nowhere to turn, Michael was referred by a friend to Personal Injury Attorney John Coco, founder of the Law Offices of John Coco. Michael was encouraged that Mr. Coco’s firm had handled many similar cases, often with maximum results. Mr. Coco personally assured Michael that the firm would diligently represent him and press forward until there was just compensation. Mr. Coco gave Michael the advice he gives every client; “Just focus on getting better, and we will do the rest.”
Mr. Coco quickly determined that there was a total of $250,000 in available insurance for Michael’s injuries. The woman who struck him had a $100,000 policy, and Michael had an additional $150,000 from his own insurance policy.
Mr. Coco’s firm immediately filed a lawsuit against the driver that struck Michael’s car. Her insurance company, a nationally known multibillion-dollar company, defended her obvious negligence and argued that the 40 mile per hour crash was a “minor impact”. These typical games played by the insurance corporations delay justice for the injured and wrongly put the personal assets of their insured at risk. Mr. Coco proved that this was a heavy impact through the vehicles’ extensive repair records and post-crash photos. After a six-month battle, the insurance corporation reluctantly paid Michael the entire $100,000 policy. In the interim, Michael got a new job and began rebuilding his career.
Next, Mr. Coco’s firm demanded the remaining $150,000 from Michael’s auto insurance company. Michael had wisely purchased “SUM” (Supplemental Underinsured Motorist) coverage, which was intended for this exact scenario. Surprisingly, Michael’s OWN insurance company, to which he had faithfully paid a premium to for over ten years, refused to pay ANYTHING! Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that Michael’s compensation should be much more than the available insurance. The insurance company representative told Mr. Coco that unless Michael would take less than the $150,000 demand, they would not offer a dime. Mr. Coco had heard this nonsense many times before and just ignored it. His firm filed a second lawsuit against Michael’s own auto insurer – yet another multibillion-dollar insurance corporation, who like the first would not honor its obligation to pay unless forced to in Court. After aggressively litigating this second case, this insurance company paid the remaining $150,000.
The total compensation for Michael’s injuries was $250,000. This was the maximum result possible in this case. With this settlement Michael was able to begin a rebuilding period and avoid bankruptcy. Michael now had enough financial leeway to continue his medical treatments and to begin to flourish in his new job. Artwork by Kailyn Leopold. Disclaimer: Some facts have been changed to protect the parties’ identities.
A Note from John Coco, Esq.
While we are proud of this case result, our firm is not the hero of this story, Michael is the hero. He never gave up. His story could have ended much differently, frankly, in bankruptcy and despair. Despite the horrific crash, Michael is fighting to rebuild his life.
Unfortunately, the above case is not an anomaly, but instead happens to hard working innocent people every single day. Perhaps even more reprehensible than the initial negligent act, is the vigorous defense that the insurance company for the defendant will provide. These multibillion dollar insurance corporations will defend drunk and drugged drivers, individuals who are texting while driving and run over children on the sidewalk, and those who injure hardworking innocent victims from all walks of life. Unsurprisingly, the sole motivation behind the defense of these cases is to avoid paying plaintiffs compensation needed to begin rebuilding their lives. Don’t let yourself be victimized a second time by an insurance company.