Jon Schwartz and his family paid for uninsured motorist coverage (known
as UM coverage) for over 20 years, without ever once making a claim. But
since both of his parents were insurance brokers, they were aware that
many drivers don’t carry any insurance, so they wanted to be safe,
just in case. “That’s what insurance is for,” they thought.
Jon injured his back and neck in a car crash while on leave from his job
as a wildlife preserve volunteer. The other driver was totally at fault,
having run a red light, but had no insurance. “No problem”,
thought the family, “that’s why we have uninsured motorist
coverage, that’s why we’ve been paying the premium for 20
years, just in case.”
But his own insurance company, State Farm, refused to cover him under his
UM policy for the injuries, including refusing to pay for his past and
future medical bills. So the family was forced to take them to court and
that’s where the Kelley/Uustal team came in.
At trial, attorney Todd McPharlin, supported by his paralegal team, showed
the jury how the severity of the crash had totaled Jon’s car. The
jury heard about his epidural injections which doctors prescribed for
the pain he was in. And the jury heard from doctors who testified that
Jon would need surgery to correct the damage caused by the crash. They
also heard that, after this crash, Jon wasn’t able to meet the physical
requirements involved in his role with the wildlife preserve, which included
taking care of Florida’s endangered panthers.
The jury awarded Jon $270,035.77 to cover his past and future medical expenses
and to compensate him for his pain. Before trial, Jon made very reasonable
settlement offers which were rejected by his insurance. As a result, State
Farm paid attorney’s fees and costs in addition to the verdict amount.
With fees and costs added to the verdict, the total recovery was $342,117.29.
The jury forced his own insurance company to pay.
“The insurance companies sometimes deny a claim just to make you
fight, thinking they hold all the cards,” said attorney Todd McPharlin
when interviewed for this web post. “But the jury shuffles those
cards,” he went on to say, “if you can get a case to trial,
which is what we are good at doing, then you have a fair fight.”
After the verdict the insurance company paid.