A personal umbrella policy provides high limits of liability insurance, to protect against a catastrophic loss. The policy grants liability coverage that stacks on top of the primary liability coverage provided by homeowners, auto, watercraft, and other scheduled liability policies. Umbrella policies commonly cover bodily injury, property damage, and personal injury, which includes offenses such as libel, slander, false arrest, invasion of privacy, and others. Umbrella policies can also provide directors and officers coverage to those who serve on nonprofit boards.
Personal liability awards are on the rise
Just one lawsuit can do significant financial damage to even the wealthiest of individuals. Below are some examples of recent personal liability cases, and the awards that resulted:
Texting while driving
A young driver was involved in a head-on collision, killing a female student in her early-twenties. The driver’s cell phone records proved that several text messages were transmitted at the time of the crash. The driver’s record also showed that this was not the first time he had engaged in dangerous driving behavior. The family of the victim sued the young man for negligence. They also sued his father, claiming that as the owner of the vehicle he was negligent in entrusting his vehicle to his son, given his driving record. A jury ruled in favor of the victim’s family. Award total: $21,825,000.
Working in the yard
While doing yard work in front of his home, a teenage boy was struck by a sport utility vehicle. His parents, individually and on behalf of their son, sued the driver alleging negligence. They claimed that she was under the influence of alcohol, drove at an excessive speed, failed to keep a proper lookout, and failed to apply her brakes. The driver denied negligence and claimed that the boy was standing in the middle of the street outside of an intersection or marked crosswalk, and had negligently failed to yield to her right of way. After a bench trial, the judge found the driver negligent. Award total: $12,518,888.
A dangerous altercation
In an argument over an ex-girlfriend, a man lifted another man off the ground and dropped him on his neck. The altercation resulted in a neck fracture and paralysis from the neck down. The victim had multiple surgeries to fuse his spine and mend his esophagus, and spent weeks on a ventilator in a cast. He filed a lawsuit claiming that the man who caused his injury was negligent in throwing him to the ground using excessive force. He claimed damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, permanent disability and disfigurement, lost income and depression. A judge ruled in favor of the plaintiff.
Award total: $20,705,000.
Adequate liability protection is more important than ever. Please contact your Evarts Tremaine representative to learn more today.
Thank you to AIG Private Client Group for contributing to this article.