A former New Underwood teacher and trainer struck a deal with his insurance company after sustaining devastating injuries when the motorcycle he was riding was hit by a speeding car.
DJ Toczek was employed by the New Underwood School District when he was injured in an accident on July 8, 2017 in Wyoming.
According to a complaint filed against the New Underwood School District, Toczek was thrown from his motorcycle after a vehicle driven by Christopher Nesius struck him as he was fleeing law enforcement at over 100 mph on a highway .
Toczek suffered head trauma, broken bones and other injuries in the crash.
Until the settlement was reached, Toczek could not receive funds from the coverage of uninsured motorists.
Toczek was able to recover $ 350,000 of his underinsured and uninsured insurance coverage since Nesius was uninsured, but was unable to touch these funds due to a lien claim filed by Wellmark for 332 $ 705.
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Wellmark said the lien claim was to return the money to the New Underwood school district. After filing the civil action against the school district, Wellmark claimed she was entitled to $ 262,705, with the remaining $ 70,000 to be reimbursed to school district insurance.
After settling the lawsuit last month, Toczek received $ 120,000 of the $ 350,000, while The Rawlings Company received $ 110,000. Rawlings and his lawyer represented the Black Hills Educational Benefits Cooperative, the insurer and Wellmark. The remaining $ 120,000 went to attorney fees, court costs, expenses and sales tax.
“I’m glad it’s over. That’s one way to sum it up, ”Toczek told the Rapid City Journal in a telephone interview Monday.
“The most important thing, if I could give any advice to anyone who’s been through a traumatic wreckage and then into a battle with the insurance companies, is that it’s going to take a long time,” he said. declared. “The way the court system works anymore, and the way the insurance companies work, it’s going to take a long time and you just have to be patient and stay positive.”
Wellmark retained the Rawlings group to find out if the insurer was entitled to reimbursement.
Professor Emeritus Roger Baron of the University of South Dakota Law School and Rapid City attorneys Frank Bettman and Tina Hogue represented Toczek.
Baron said Wellmark and The Rawlings Company may decide to pay a portion of the settlement funds they received to the school district insurance co-op.
“But under the terms of the agreements and documents, there is no obligation to pay part of the $ 110,000 to the co-op,” Baron said.
New Underwood Superintendent Katie Albers declined to comment on the settlement.
“Rawlings has chosen the lawyer to represent Wellmark in this litigation. Rawlings asks that all the money go to him and then he will pay it to “whoever it is” who owns it, “Baron said. “Before filing a complaint, the deception was that the money would go to the school district. It wasn’t until after we filed a complaint that Wellmark had to “get to the truth” and tell us who was really getting the money.
The civil court battle lasted four years before the settlement was reached, Toczek said.
“My lawyers had to go through a long process, go through one thing and then cross it off before they found a point where they could find money through my insurance company in the claim of uninsured motorists,” he said. declared.
“It’s just a very confusing and interesting world in the insurance game. You sign these policies and see uninsured motorist claims and you think that’s going to cover you. In a way it is, but in another way they are just watching over themselves.
Regarding recovery, Toczek said he was not sure he would ever recover from the accident.
“My neck and shoulders still hurt. I have chronic headaches from a traumatic brain injury,” said Toczek, who is now the athletic director of Bennett County High School.
After the accident, Toczek spent two and a half months in hospital, followed by nine months of therapy and a year of counseling.
“Honestly, I can’t even understand the cost of the medical bills that my parents and I received,” he said.
Toczek said his saving grace was to become the father of his daughter, Avery, who was born eight months after the crash.
“She really saved my life,” he said of the 3-year-old.