$2.5 million verdict against Allstate for attendant care to paralyzed boy's family is upheld
In Bonkowski v. Allstate, the Court of Appeals rejected virtually all of Allstate's complaints regarding a 7-figure verdict holding that it had underpaid a family for no fault attendant care. Shaun Bonkowski was struck by a car in 2001. He was paralyzed from the neck down and also suffered a severe head injury. The driver was never identified, however, Shaun was insured with Allstate through his family, and Allstate became obligated to provide him with no fault personal injury protection benefits (PIP).
Shaun's father was trained by the hospital to provide Shaun with specialized care that would normally be provided by an R.N. Allstate did not deny that Shaun required this highly-technical care, but refused to pay the father at market rates, even though the father's care at home was much cheaper than the same care would have cost in an institution. The Court upheld the jury's verdict, noting that paying for the care at market rates allowed the family to procure substitute care when the father was not available, and to pay for insurance and other administrative expenses. It sent the case back to the trial court to re-calculate attorney fees and costs. The only victory Allstate achieved was a reduction in attorneys fees, based on its claim that it had presented a position that was not frivolous or unreasonable.