Umbrella Liability Claims Scenario #4…….More Scary Stuff

The Claimant and Insured have been longtime friends, live on the same street, and the Claimant had been to the Insured’s home on many occasions. The Insured lives in a home with a brick patio which had been constructed in the 1960s. Bricks were replaced one year before the incident. An area of the patio is bordered by an 18 inch retaining wall with a flower bed between the wall and the brick patio.

The Insured, Claimant, and another Friend met at a club, had a few drinks, and all returned to the Insured’s home where they sat on the patio in lawn chairs and continued drinking. At approximately 11:00 PM, the Insured went inside to the kitchen. The Friend also entered the house to call a cab.

When the Friend went back outside, the Claimant was no longer on the patio. He found the Claimant unconscious on the ground on the other side of the patio retaining wall. The Claimant remembers falling, but does not remember how it happened.

According to the Insured, on other occasions when the Claimant had been at the home, a patio table was in front of the retaining wall. The table had been removed, exposing an area of the wall.  The Claimant, age 56, sustained a spinal cord injury which rendered him an incomplete quadriplegic. He underwent surgery and was on a feeding tube for several months. He was able to return home 6 months after the incident, but continues to suffer partial paralysis of his arms and legs. He uses an electric wheelchair to get around his house and requires assistance with some activities of  daily living.

The Claimant owned his own business and was married 1 month before the incident. His wife now cares for him at home. The settlement to the Claimant exhausted the underlying coverage limits and paymentwas made under the personal umbrella.