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College student stacks divorced parents’ UIM insurance coverage

Type of action: Personal Injury – Motorcycle Wreck
Injuries alleged: Numerous orthopedic fractures
Case name: Confidential
Case number: None
Court: Mecklenburg County
Tried before judge or jury: None
Name of mediator: Marshall A. Gallop, Jr.
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Settlement date: March 1, 2010
Amount: $555,000 (which represented all of the insurance coverage available)
Insurers: Allstate, Integon General, GEICO and Nationwide
Experts: Not applicable
Plaintiff’s attorneys: Robert E. Whitley (Raleigh)
Submitted by: Alicia Delamere

Description: Plaintiff, a 22-year-old college student at North Carolina State University, sustained serious injuries in a motorcycle accident on Dec. 10, 2009. The at-fault vehicle turned left in front of him as he approached an intersection.

Plaintiff sustained serious orthopedic injuries and had to undergo several surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. His total medical expenses were $231,891.

Plaintiff maintained an apartment in Raleigh as a student but also maintained residency with each of his parents, who had divorced years prior to this wreck.

The responsible driver for the wreck had minimum policy limits, and those limits were tendered prior to the plaintiff retaining counsel. Plaintiff’s father, a medical doctor, had made inquiry with his insurance company as well as an attorney about the potential recovery for his son. The plaintiff’s father concluded that there would be no recovery beyond the $30,000 in liability coverage because his son had minimum coverage of $30,000 on the motorcycle he was operating.

After extensive investigation of the plaintiff’s family and residential situation, it was determined that he was covered by several policies, including his own separate GEICO automobile policy, which had $100,000 per person in underinsurance coverage.

Evidence was developed that plaintiff maintained a “residence” at his mother’s home in Mecklenburg County, whose address was still used on his banking account, and he had a key and could go to her home at any time. She had underinsurance coverage on a family automobile policy of $100,000 with Allstate.

It was also established that the plaintiff maintained a “residence” with his father in his home, whose address he used for voter registration. His father had two separate policies, one with Nationwide for $250,000 in underinsurance, and a second policy with Nationwide on his motorcycle with $100,000 in underinsurance coverage.

Plaintiff was able to stack all of the underinsurance coverages for a total of $550,000 and was able to settle the claim for the total amount of all of the underinsurance coverage. For more information, see Bob Whitley’s Blog entry 6/19/ 2010