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The Dunlap family’s insurance carrier will play an old trick on Ms. Dunlap – to avoid paying a dime.

The Alaska State Troopers report that Clyde Dunlap, 88, died when his wife, Martha Dunlap, ran into a moose. It appears that Ms. Dunlap did not see the moose until it was too late. The legal import of this situation is twofold: (1) was Martha Dunlap negligent for not seeing the moose?; and (2) is the Dunlap family entitled to the insurance that they purchased for accidents like this?

The first question: Was Martha Dunlap negligent, is tough to answer. It is unclear whether Ms. Dunlap should have seen the moose. The salient question is whether a “reasonable person” in her position would have been able to see the moose, and avoid it. Was she distracted? It appears that literally hundreds of Alaskans encounter moose each day on our roads. Only an unlucky few run into them. It makes sense to ask why.

The second question: Will the Dunlap family’s insurer belly up-to-the bar? is easier to answer. “No” is the short response. I guarantee you that they will not pay a dime. Instead, they will pressure Ms. Dunlap into giving a statement where she swears “there was nothing I could do – the moose just jumped out in front of me.” With that declaration, they will then put away their checkbook, and move on.

Or, Ms. Dunlap could contact an attorney. A good personal injury attorney will help Ms. Dunlap better understand the mechanics of this situation. He/she will hire an accident reconstruction (AR) expert and a doctor. The AR expert will measure “sight distances” at the location of this crash. The AR expert will determine if Ms. Dunlap had a fighting chance to avoid this moose. If not, the State of Alaska could be (partially) responsible.

Next, the doctor will determine Ms. Dunlap visual and sensory abilities. If Ms. Dunlap made a simple mistake, that is exactly why she (and Mr. Dunlap) bought insurance for their car – in case they make a simple mistake.

Do you think Ms. Dunlap’s insurance company will suggest hiring an AR expert or a doctor to help determine the case of this wreck? Not likely. Instead, they will pump away at Ms. Dunlap, playing on her misery, until she declares: “There was nothing I could do…”

It’s horrible, but true.

Finally, keep an eye on the Statute of Limitations for personal injury/death in Alaska. It’s two years. If you delay too long is pursuing this claim, the insurance company will (again) smile and put away its checkbook. Unfortunately, you have to act soon.

The Dunlap family is in our prayers.

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

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