Car Crash in Cabazon

The Car Collision in Cabazon

On June 29, 2020, a car crash occurred in the City of Cabazon very near the Morongo Casino.  This office represents one of the two drivers involved, Darnell Shumpert, a former NBA minor league player and now software engineer.  The adverse driver, David Marmel (who executive produced Mrs. America and Mrs. World pageants for television), is alleged to have merged his Bentley into Mr. Shumpert's lane forcing it up a curb and onto a concrete median.  When seen in the Emergency Room of San Gorgonio Medical Center after the collision, the client was suffering from headaches, back pain, left shoulder pain and left elbow pain.  Elbow x-rays revealed a fracture of the left olecranon and soft tissue swelling posterior to the elbow.

Presentation of the Insurance Claim

After the client's medical treatment was largely complete (with the exception of future care that may be needed), a settlement proposal was presented to the automobile insurer for Mr. Marmel, State Farm Insurance.  State Farm had previously paid for the property damage to Mr. Shumpert's Mercedes E-Class sedan, a total of more than $4,000.00.  In October of 2020, the insurance carrier made a modest settlement offer in response to the original settlement demand.  Thereafter, and in spite of having paid the property damage claim and having made an earlier settlement offer on the bodily injury claim, State Farm did not make another offer in the nearly three months that have followed presentation of the demand.

In general, when a settlement proposal is submitted to an insurance carrier it includes the information necessary to evaluate both liability and the damages claimed.  This proposal usually includes such things as photographs of the involved vehicles, the subject Traffic Collision Report, photographs of the visible injuries, relevant medical records and bills, and any documentation supporting a loss of income claim.  Not all of this documentation is included in every claim, such as when no police report was taken.  However, the accident-related medical records and bills are almost always required.

Under California law, an insurance carrier such as State Farm must meet certain standards concerning the prompt, fair and equitable resolution of claims.  (California Code of Regulations, Section 2695.7)  These statutory obligations include a duty not to "attempt to settle a claim by making a settlement offer that is unreasonably low." (Section 2695.7(g))  Additionally, insurance companies must "conduct and diligently pursue a thorough, fair and objective investigation and shall not persist in seeking information not reasonably required for or material to the resolution of a claim dispute."  (Section 2695.7(d)).  This latter subsection prohibits insurers from requiring production of medical records or prior claim information when it is not germane to the claim presented and/or is being pursued simply to delay settlement or dissuade the claimant from pursuing compensation further.

Filing of a Lawsuit

When an insurance carrier unnecessarily delays payment of a claim through dilatory tactics, the injured party has the option of filing a lawsuit with the appropriate court in order to move the case forward.  Additionally, if the insurer's conduct is egregious enough, a complaint can be filed with the California Department of Insurance.  

In the case above, and because Mr. Marmel has since passed away, a lawsuit has been prepared for filing with the court naming, among others, Mr. Marmel's estate.  Under California law, a lawsuit such as this may be brought against the decedent's estate allowing the injured party to pursue the insurance proceeds available. (California Probate Code Section 550, et seq.)  In other words, the personal assets of the deceased defendant (i.e., his estate) are not being pursued, only the insurance coverage (within the applicable policy limits) are sought.  In essence, in this scenario the insurance company stands in the shoes of the representative for the estate.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident, you have the right to receive compensation for any injuries and damages sustained.  Mr. Ralph has approximately 30 years of experience at handling personal injury claims and lawsuits, and he can be reached via e-mail or by phone for a free consultation.


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