My fifteen year old son was riding in the back seat of a car that a sixteen year old was driving. The driver was going 60 mph in a 25 when she went off the road and hit a tree. There was no alcohol or drugs involved. My son sustained a broken spine and ankle, and needed a plate to fuse three fractured vertabrae in the lumbar region. My son can walk unaided, but will always suffer pain that prevents him from sitting or standing for more than a few minutes without reclining. The owner of the car has an umbrella policy. An attorney told us we can expect three times the 200,000 dollar medical expenses. Is this true? And will my wife and I receive bereavment money? Can the umbrella policy get out of paying since the girl was speeding?
I don't know how anyone could tell you what to expect without seeing the umbrella policy first. The umbrella policy language will dictate whether it applies or not. The issue to me doesn't seem to be how fast she was going but whether she was insured at the time of the collision and whether the umbrella policy applies to the vehicle she was driving.
The old rule of thumb was that you could take the medical bills and multiply them times three in a clear liability case to reach a range of expected resolution. The three times represented payment for the medical bills, payment to the attorney for the third contingency fee and payment to the client. You son's injuries are much more valuable than a rule of three based upon the information you have provided. I suggest you hire someone that understands the injuries to your son are far from ordinary and that you find someone who understands that the insurance you may have on your vehicles may also apply.
I hope your son continues to improve. Jeff
I am only licensed in Texas. By providing my opinions and comments to questions on this site, I am not engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in any other jurisdiction. No attorney client relationship is being created by my responding to this question.
If the 16 year old was a member of the household and not excluded on the umbrella policy, the umbrella policy will likely cover the at fault 16 year old for liability. You will need to determine the policy limits on the auto policy and the umbrella policy. Typically, "bereavement" is not covered in this kind of situation, but, you may have a claim for medical expenses that you have had to pay for your minor son. YOur son's claim would then be for pain and suffering, permanency, disability, etc. In some states, the two claims (yours as parents--and his as son) will trigger additional person auto coverage. But, the fact that the girl was speeding should not be a basis for the umbrella policy not to apply. Your case is a complex one and one that really would be aided by representation by an attorney who handles these kind of cases. Good Luck.
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