Brett Murphy client Beth was only 13 years old when she was a guest at a holiday party hosted by the owners of a local gravel pit. During the party, the teenage son of the hosts recklessly fired off a bottle rocket which struck Beth in the right eye. Beth consequently was blinded in that eye. The host had bought the bottle rockets at a local Indian reservation and had allowed the kids at the party shoot the fireworks without any supervision.
Attorney Bill Coats, of the Brett Murphy Bellingham office, filed a claim with the hosts’ homeowner’s insurance company, and also with their business insurance company. The homeowner’s insurance company was willing to pay the limits of the policy, but unfortunately this amount was not enough to fully compensate Beth for her permanent injury. The business insurance company denied coverage for the loss, claiming that the incident was not covered under the policy. Bill Coats filed a lawsuit and through his comprehensive investigation, he determined that the holiday party was actually a business function, and the court would most likely rule that the incident was covered by the business insurance policy. He informed the out-of-state business insurance company of his findings, and advised them of Washington’s Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which could subject them to additional penalties if they unreasonably denied coverage. After a mediation session, Beth’s parents and the insurance company agreed to the highest settlement in Washington for injury to a single eye. The settlement was structured so that Beth will receive more than $1,400,000 throughout the course of her lifetime. B.P. v. Arestads (2009)
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