We are happy to report that Dan Levy of this firm won a trial this week regarding insurance coverage on a major car accident case. The trial was a bench trial (non-jury) in Passaic County before Judge Mizzone.
The at-fault driver had been in a relationship with his high school girlfriend for over 10 years. They lived together for approximately 5 years before the October 2010 crash. They lived as a family and had 2 children together. But the driver was unlicensed and the car belonged to the girlfriend. He took the car and ran a red light, hit a bus, a truck, a person, a city-owned flower pot, and a wall. At least 8 people were significantly injured. Mr. Levy’s client was one of the most injured of the group.
The insurance company for the car refused to pay any of the claims. They argued that the driver was not licensed and had no reasonable belief that he could use the car. They also pointed to statements given by the couple, stating that the man was not given permission to use the car.
Although almost all of the cases were consolidated, the court felt that the insurance coverage issue should first be tried separately. The attorneys agreed to a division of the policy funds, to be distributed to each injured person should the court rule that the carrier should pay the claims.
Mr. Levy tried the case over two days, assisted by Ken Morano (another local attorney), who represented the person that was most injured in the crash. They argued that our client had seen the man driving this same vehicle in the months leading up to the accident, that the girlfriend knew that he drove other cars even though he was unlicensed, and that the couple had a motive and opportunity to tell the insurance company that the car was used without permission.
Upon deliberating the evidence and the law, the trial judge ruled that the carrier should pay the claims for this crash. The carrier agreed to divide the policy pursuant to the previously-agreed terms.