Our client was driving home from his last physical therapy session treating a previous auto accident injury when he was t-boned by a car coming out of a parking lot in Portland, Oregon. In this new accident, he sustained severe injuries to his neck and back and aggravated the knee injury he suffered in the previous accident. His medical bills – after neck surgery – came to about $100,000, an amount far beyond his $50,000 policy limit.
Two accidents in quick succession and minimal policy limits presents a special challenge in an injury claim. In our client’s case, the insurance company made an extremely unreasonable offer, not even offering policy limits. Worried by the insurance company’s paltry offer, he decided he needed the expert help of a Portland, Oregon auto accident attorneys.
After reviewing his case and the insurance company’s reason for their low offer, I filed a lawsuit and pursued an excess exposure claim. The excess exposure doctrine, developed through case law in Oregon, allows for a recovery greater than the policy limits under certain circumstances. When an insurer has opportunity to recognize that damages brought by their insured driver’s liability exceed the policy limits but doesn’t readily offer the entire policy limits, this can result in excess exposure. Since 1956, courts in Oregon have held that an insurance company must not act in bad faith in these situations. An insurer cannot expose their insured to the probability of a verdict that could not be satisfied by the policy limits, leaving them personally liable to pay the additional sum.
Our case went to mediation, and after several rounds of intense negotiation, the insurance company offered a settlement beyond policy limits, ultimately agreeing with our excess exposure argument. Our client was able to pay his medical providers with some money left over for other accident-related expenses. He was very happy with the result and believed that the expert representation he received from the Portland, Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys at Dwyer Williams Potter made all the difference.