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Milwaukee.  Gatzke Law won a $1.76 million judgment in a wrongful death motor vehicle accident case in Kenosha County.

That verdict was more than three times the amount originally identified as “policy limits” by the Minnesota-based insurance company.  The insurance company originally claimed that the limits in the case were $500,000, but the attorneys at Gatzke Law closely reviewed the policy and determined that coverage for the three vehicles could be “stacked,” raising the policy limits to $1.5 million.

The family was driving northbound on US 45, a two-lane rural highway, and as he approached the T-intersection with Highway N in Kenosha County, the client slowed down to drive around road construction signs which had been erected near the intersection as a result of roadwork being done.

Our client had the right of way on US 45 as he came to the intersection with Highway N. Westbound Highway N ends at US 45 in a T intersection, and there is a stop sign at the intersection controlling traffic on Highway N. There is no stop sign for traffic on US 45. Immediately west of the intersection of Highway N and US 45 is a deep culvert and drainage ditch and then a farm field. The area is not well lit, but the sightlines along Highway N toward US 45 were not obstructed because the corn in the field had not yet grown. The evening was clear and dry, and there were no apparent obstructions preventing a vehicle traveling westbound on Highway N from seeing a vehicle traveling northbound on US 45 with its headlights “ON.”

The client reported hearing screeching tires and within a matter of one to two seconds, a vehicle smashed into the passenger side of his car, near the pillar between the front and back doors. The family’s vehicle was pushed to the west and thrown approximately 100’ into a farm field drainage ditch.

The driver who struck the family did not have insurance.  The client’s claim, therefore, was against his own insurer and the uninsured motorist coverage that existed under the policy.

An analysis of the declarations section revealed that the family had three vehicles insured the policy, each with an individual uninsured limit of $500,000, and each subject to a specific uninsured motorist premium of $12.46/payment period. Gatzke argued that because the insurance company made the family pay a separate $12.46 monthly premium for each of the three vehicles he had insured, he should be entitled to three times the uninsured limits, or $1.5 million, instead of just $500,000. The insurance company refused and Gatzke filed a motion for declaratory judgment on the issue. When he won on that issue, the insurance company agreed to pay the $1.5 million for the insured claim and additional amounts for injuries suffered by others in the vehicle.