Friday, May 9, 2014

Universal Casualty Company Tries to Deny a Left Cross.

by Jim Freeman

Years ago a girl came to me after being left-crossed by a driver at Damen and Elston.  Her injuries were severe, and she had no health insurance to pay for her medical.  The case seemed to be straight forward.  There was an independent witness who was waiting at a red on southbound Elston.  He saw the whole thing.

My client, the bicyclist, was southbound on Damen.  The bicyclist intended to proceed straight though the intersection of Damen and Elston to proceed southbound on Damen.  The hitter, northbound on Damen, entered the intersection and made a quick left turn to Northbound Elston.  In so doing he struck my client causing severe injuries and destroying the bicycle.

The driver was issued a ticket for negligent driving.  At the traffic court hearing he plead guilty to the ticket and essentially admitted fault.

We gave the driver's insurance company, Universal Casualty Company, every opportunity to do the right thing and pay their policy limits (which were woefully inadequate to satisfy my client's claim) to avoid the unnecessary burden of filing suit.  I thought the case would be easy to resolve since they basically had no defense and their client had admitted fault.  Much to my surprise, Universal Casualty Company refused to tender their policy.  As to the issue of fault, Universal Casualty Company stated, "...a bicyclist has a greater duty to maintain a proper lookout and retain control of their bicycle as they have a greater risk of harm."  I'm not kidding folks, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.    

We were forced to file suit.  In the end we obtained a result that was well in excess of Universal Casualty Company's policy limits. 


  1. One of the gems in the auto insurance industry! Hope they paid as a result of the bad faith refusal to settle within the policy limits.

    1. Once we got the case in suit it turned out, much to everyone's surprise, that the guy was working at the time of the accident, so we brought in the employer. UCC paid, as did the employer. No bad faith, but we still got full value on the claim. I know... a bad faith claim against an insurance company can be a heart-warming story.


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