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Chicago Attorneys Successfully Defend Insurer Client in an Underinsured Motorist Arbitration

Chicago attorneys Scott D. Stephenson and Alissa N. DeConinck received a defense finding in arbitration for an underinsured motorist claim on behalf of our insurer client. In this case, the claimant/insured made a demand for arbitration pursuant to his insurance policy in order to obtain underinsured motorist benefits arising from a collision he was involved in that took place in July 2016.

The underlying accident occurred on southbound Interstate 65 near West Lafayette, Indiana. Claimant was operating his motorcycle while traveling in a construction zone when he rear-ended an SUV that had stopped in front of him due to a traffic jam. At the time of the collision, claimant was traveling approximately 45 mph. Upon impact, claimant’s motorcycle toppled over and landed on him.

Claimant contended that as he lay underneath his motorcycle on the roadway, a trailing motorcycle operated by his cousin, with whom he was traveling, struck his left upper extremity, causing a comminuted open fracture of his left wrist. He also suffered a chest wall contusion, multiple skin avulsions, a 7 cm laceration to his left lower extremity and an acute chin laceration. In addition, the top layer of skin on his left lower leg and left lower arm were removed in the course of the accident. Claimant underwent emergency surgery to place an external fixator to his left wrist fracture for stabilization, and incurred approximately $237,000 in medical bills.

It was claimant’s contention that all of his injuries were caused by the second impact and not the initial rear-end impact between claimant’s motorcycle and the SUV.

Claimant filed a claim against the operator of the second motorcycle, his cousin. The insurer of the second motorcycle paid its full policy limits in settlement of that claim. Claimant then made this claim against our client for underinsured motorist benefits. In defense of the claim, Litchfield Cavo attorneys Scott Stephenson and Alissa DeConinick contested  the occurrence of the second collision. Scott and Alissa established through the testimony of the investigating state trooper that neither claimant nor any of the five witnesses ever mentioned that there was a second collision. In addition, the state trooper testified that he observed no evidence of a second collision, and none of claimant’s witnesses conclusively testified that a second collision occurred, other than claimant’s cousin who testified that he wasn’t sure if his motorcycle struck claimant or claimant’s motorcycle.

At arbitration, claimant requested an award of $943,000. In rendering a decision in favor of our client, the Arbitrator found that there was no competent evidence of a second collision and that claimant was more than 50% at fault in causing the collision and his injuries.

Scott is a trial attorney and handles complex commercial litigation for manufacturers, distributors and retailers in products liability cases, as well as manufacturers in toxic tort cases. He also represents owners, developers, general contractors and sub-contractors, and has extensive experience handling construction injury and defect cases, and premises liability claims. Additionally, Scott defends clients in trucking and commercial vehicle litigation.

Alissa focuses her practice on civil litigation, defending personal injury and toxic tort claims. She has extensive experience defending clients against claims involving products, construction, premises and auto liability matters. Alissa has defended numerous bodily injury and property damage cases during jury trials, bench trials and arbitrations.