Gray•Duffy Saves Client’s Home and Other Assets from a Large Judgment in Excess of the Insurance Policy Limits and Secures Release in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

July 2012


John Duffy of Gray•Duffy’s Encino office was retained by a woman following an auto vs. motorcycle accident resulting in the death of the motorcyclist.  The client was advised by her automobile insurance carrier to retain counsel due to the potential for a judgment being entered against her in excess of her automobile insurance policy limits of $50,000.  Gray•Duffy worked with the claims representative for the client’s insurance company to present arguments to the decedent’s heirs convincing them to take the insurance policy limits in full and complete settlement of the action.


Michael Roberts v. Helen Heanue On July 2, 2011, Gray•Duffy’s client, Helen Heanue, was involved in an auto vs. motorcycle accident.  Ms. Heanue was attempting to cross the street and did not see the approaching motorcyclist.  She proceeded into the street when her vehicle was struck by the motorcyclist who was thrown over the top of the vehicle and was instantly killed.  Ms. Heanue, a retired junior college professor, owns her own home, has no mortgage on the home and had only $50,000 in insurance coverage for this accident. John Duffy of Gray•Duffy actively investigated the facts of the accident, and located a witness who indicated that the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of impact.  The witness estimated the speed of the motorcycle at approximately 60 mph in speed limit zone of 35 mph. Mr. Duffy presented the client’s automobile insurance carrier with the argument to present to the attorney for the decedent’s heirs that the high speed was the substantial factor in this accident and that the accident would not have occurred if the motorcyclist was not speeding. The defendant’s attorney acknowledged that the speed of the motorcyclist created a potential defense to the claim.  Eventually the decedent’s heirs decided to accept the policy limits in full and complete settlement of the action, thereby saving the client from potentially losing her home. Thereafter, Mr. Duffy advised Ms. Heanue to obtain higher insurance policy limits.  The client has since secured an umbrella policy to protect her from any potential future claims.

Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.