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Sondra G. vs. Duren/Progressive Insurance Company

FACTS:

Sondra Gauthier was a seat belted driver of her 2012 Ford Escape. She was driving south on the North Oak Trafficway in Kansas City, Missouri when Mr. Duren was driving north on the North Oak Trafficway. Mr. Duren was driving his 2005 Ford F-150 and was diabetic and while on his way to the grocery store, he alleged that he “blacked out” and crossed the centerline of the road and collided head-on with Sondra’s Ford Escape. Mr. Duren did not attempt to swerve, sound a warning or brake to avoid the collision.

Sondra’s seatbelt locked and the airbag in her Ford Escape deployed and paramedics and firefighters had to cut the seatbelt and extract Sondra from her car.   She was rushed by ambulance to North Kansas City Hospital where she was admitted for non-life threatening injuries. She spent 3 days in the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken right forearm, a fractured rib and extensive contusions to her chest, arms, legs and face due to the severity of the impact with the airbag upon its deployment. She later had surgery on her right forearm to repair the severely fractured bones, which required hardware for the internal fixation of the right radius and a closed reduction of the distal radial ulnar joint space. The then had extensive physical therapy over the course of the next several months.

Although healed from the fractures, Sondra continues to have some permanent, residual stiffness and other functional limitations in movement.

THE DEMAND AND SETTLEMENT

Mr. Duren had a $100,000 liability policy underwritten by Progressive Insurance Company. Sondra’s injuries and medical bills justified The McCallister Law Firm making a demand that Progressive pay the entirety of the policy limits to Sondra to settle her claims against Mr. Duren.

Progressive’s initial response was to say that its liability policy was not triggered because Mr. Duren’s negligence did not cause the crash, but rather, his medical condition and blackout did. In Missouri, if the defendant suffers a sudden, unexpected medical condition that causes the accident, the liability insurance carrier may not be required to pay since negligence is the cause for triggering that insurance coverage.

But McCallister Law Firm insisted that Mr. Duren was indeed negligent for his actions because, knowing he was diabetic and knowing he had problems in the past with diabetic blackouts, he made the conscious decision to get behind the wheel and drive.

Within a matter of weeks of discussions with the adjuster, Sondra settled her claims with Progressive Insurance Company for the policy limits of the liability policy: $100,000. In addition, the policy limits of Sondra’s underinsurance policy were recovered for Sondra as well, since the liability policy of $100,000 did not fully compensate her for her injuries.

THE LIFE LONG RELATIONSHIP

Although McCallister Law Firm and its lawyers, Dion Sankar and Brian McCallister ultimately represented Sondra and obtained justice for her, Sondra had consulted with other lawyers before deciding to go with them. Sondra said, “I had talked with other lawyers about representing me and I knew Brian through my work, so I decided to talk with him, too. I didn’t really know what kind of cases Brian and his law firm handled. But after I met with him and with Dion, they just put me at ease and made me feel so confident and comfortable. I knew instantly they were the ones I needed to represent me.”

“They really know what they are doing. I was scared because I was getting bills for my hospitalization and I didn’t know if my credit would be affected by the bills that were mounting up. Dion told me not to worry about the bills and that he would take that burden off my shoulders. And he worked all of it out. I just can’t say enough good things about Dion and my lawyers at McCallister Law Firm. I’ve got friends for life.”