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Ward Merdes
Ward Merdes
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Mitchell Expressway Fatality – Specific Insurance Law Instructions…

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The Troopers announced today that Matthew Culp, 18, of North Pole was killed in Wednesday’s three-car pile-up on the Mitchell Expressway near Fairbanks. Mr. Culp was a passenger in the pickup driven by Jessie Jones, 23 of Fairbanks. Initial investigation by the Troopers suggests that Mr. Jones’ pickup crossed the median and collided with a sport utility vehicle driven by a 53 year old woman and truck driven by a 29 year old man. Culp was pronounced dead at the scene. Alcohol is suspected to be a factor. These are the specifics…

Mr. Culp’s family needs to take immediate action to ensure that all insurance claims are appropriately filed. The same goes for the 53 year old woman in the SUV and the 29 year old man in the pickup truck. Because alcohol was involved, special claims need to be filed pursuant to Alaska Statute 09.60.070.

Under Alaskan law, the first claims must be filed against whatever insurance company covers Mr. Jones’ vehicle. Culp’s family has a liability claim and an Underinsured Motorist claim against Jones’ insurance company. The 53 year old SUV driver and 29 year old pickup driver have similar liability claims and should also file claims against their own Underinsured motorist coverage. Finally, Mr. Culp’s family should investigate Underinsured motorist claims against policies owned by family members living in the same household as Mr. Culp. It is a complicated array of claims. Be careful to do it right.

You should also investigate whether other factors might have contributed to this wreck. Since it occurred on an overpass, is there a roadway design defect issue lucking here? Did the State post the correct warnings on this overpass?

Also, keep an eye on the Statute of Limitations. In Alaska, it is two years from the date of injury/death. If you delay in bringing claims, you will lose all rights to do so.

Remember, you are not normally required to give recorded statements to the other side’s insurer. Frankly, those statements hurt far more people than they help. Everybody involved in a complicated crash like this should seriously consider hiring an experience personal injury attorney, who can do the claims correctly and also engage a qualified Accident Reconstruction expert to determine causation.

The Culp family is in our prayers.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.