Posted in News on September 10, 2021
We are all familiar with the Ridley case which requires insurers to advance pay in situations where liability is reasonably clear. Ridley explicitly covered the advance payment of medical bills. Subsequently, in Dubray, the rule was clarified to include lost wages. In Shilhanek, and most recently in High Country Paving, the Montana Supreme Court further clarified the rule and held the advance pay rule encompasses the insurer’s entire policy limits when those limits are insufficient to cover the claims. A properly timed High Country Paving demand can be very beneficial to your client on numerous fronts.
Below is a form for a High Country Paving demand we use. It is written with heavy influence from Nick Rowley’s Running with the Bulls, which has lots of helpful demand letter forms.
Re: Client v. Trucking Company, Inc.
TIME-SENSITIVE HIGH COUNTRY PAVING POLICY LIMIT DEMAND
Dear Insurance Company Decisionmakers:
This office represents the Client family in a semi-truck/auto collision caused by your insured, Trucking Company, Inc. Suit was filed against your insured on May 28, 2019 in Yellowstone County in the case entitled Client v. Trucking Company, Inc., Cause No. DV 123.
The collision was horrific:
Liability is reasonably clear as your insured’s driver was driving down the middle of the highway in severe weather conditions and, when he saw the Clients’ vehicle, he jackknifed the truck’s trailer and entered the Clients’ lane of traffic. We are in the process of sorting through why the dash cam video of the collision was not shared with law enforcement or the Clients.
The collision caused injuries to all of the Clients, with serious injuries to Jim and Jane. At present, the Clients’ incurred collision-related medical bills are $55,539. The present value of Mr. Client’s future collision-related medical bills is between $332,123 and $1,906,926 based on low frequency/low cost and high frequency/high cost projections under our Preliminary Life Care Plan and Employability Assessment.
Jane Client was unable to return to work for a brief period after the collision. Jim Client has never been able to return to work since the collision, and likely never will. The Clients lost wages to date are $41,879. The present value of Jim Client’s future lost earnings is between $1,013,664 and $1,176,209 depending on whether he is able return to work at 10 hours per week in a disability-appropriate employment capacity in 2021 or not.
In total, the Clients’ special damages alone are between $1,443,045 and $3,180,393. The Clients will further be seeking compensation for general damages like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of established course of life as multiples of the special damages. Thus, the Clients’ claims are in the millions of dollars, and beyond the applicable insurance coverage.
Your applicable insurance policy provides Trucking Company, Inc. with an umbrella policy with $4,000,000 liability limit. This is not enough insurance to cover the Clients’ claims. Accordingly, demand is hereby made pursuant to Montana law as set forth in High Country Paving, Inc. v. United Fire & Cas. Co., 2019 MT 297, 454 P.3d 1210 that you immediately tender the remaining policy limits to the Clients. Please make your check payable to “Heenan & Cook, PLLC Trust for the Benefit of the Clients” and send the check to this firm. Thank you.