On October 21st this year Zachar Law Firm was able to help Selena Hutchens finally collect compensation for damages she received in her automobile accident which occurred five years ago. Trial and Arbitration Hearings went on for just under a year and her total awards came to $122,388.
On December 2, 2004, Selena Hutchens was the restrained driver of a 1995 Jeep Cherokee traveling northbound on Price Road in Mesa, Arizona. At the same time, Avelino Sandoval was driving his vehicle northbound on Price Road, directly behind Selena, and Dong Van Nguyen was driving northbound on Price Road, directly behind Sandoval.
As the vehicles approached Southern Avenue, an unknown vehicle (phantom motorist) exited the 101 off-ramp and veered across three lanes of traffic into Selena’s lane, causing her to hit her brakes hard to stop suddenly. Thereafter, she was rear-ended by Sandoval, who was hit Nguyen and again pushed into Selena.
As a result of the refusal of the insurance carriers to accept appropriate responsibility, Selena Hutchens hired me to represent her and Zachar Law Firm went to work. Through the course of litigation, paltry offers to settle were made, but none sufficient to properly compensate Mrs. Hutchens.
The case proceeded to trial in December 2008. After presentation of the evidence, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Selena Hutchens and against the Defendants, in the amount of $115,000. The jury founds that the phantom motorist was 80% at fault, and Sandoval and Nguyen 10% each. At that point, the case was resolved with the carriers for Sandoval (Allstate) and Nguyen (State Farm).
Thereafter, Selena Hutchens presented a claim for her Uninsured Motorist benefits with State Farm Insurance Company. (Under Arizona law, a phantom motorist falls within the purview of an uninsured driver, so long as the claimant can establish both the presence and fault of the unknown driver.) Selena had a $50,000 Uninsured/Underinsured benefits) policy with State Farm, and she demanded the Uninsured Motorist policy limits of $50,000. State Farm refused to accept the findings of the jury, and instead offered Selena $2,000 as payment in full. Selena rejected this offer, and pursuant to the policy terms demanded arbitration under the policy.
In the course of discovery, I determined that Selena not only had a claim for Uninsured Motorist benefits for any fault of the phantom motorist, but also, Underinsured Motorist claims for any additional fault of Sandoval and Nguyen. Therse claims were stated to State Farm and their counsel. Again, State Farm offered $2,000 to settle her claims.
On October 21, 2009, an Arbitration Hearing was held before an Arbitrator mutually agreed upon by the parties. Witness testimony and evidence were presented, as well as arguments for each position. Shortly thereafter, the Arbitrator returned a Decision in favor of Selena Hutchens and against State Farm in the amount of $235,000, finding that the phantom motorist was 50% at fault and Sandoval/Nguyen were a combined 50% at fault.
Per the Arbitrator’s findings, it was ordered that State Farm pay Selena Hutchens the full limit of both her Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist policies, for a combined total of $100,000. The Decision was not appealed by State Farm, and the Award is now final.