Huelskamps reach friendly settlement in son's bike accident

By Mary Clarkin, The Hutchinson News, Kan.
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

April 23--U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp and wife Angela, as parents of 12-year-old Athanasius Huelskamp, recently sued a U.S. bicycle company, Dynacraft BSC Inc., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., after Athanasius suffered a laceration to his calf in a bicycle accident in Hutchinson.

The suit was filed March 17 in Reno County District Court, and on April 4, the friendly settlement was approved and the case was closed.

The Huelskamps, who have a home in north Hutchinson, said the accident occurred when a piece of the bicycle's assembly separated from the bicycle while their son was riding. The Huelskamp petition states the accident happened on or about May 24, 2012. They alleged the defendants were negligent in distributing and/or assembling the bicycle. The bicycle was distributed by Dynacraft, a Massachusetts corporation, and assembled and purchased from Wal-Mart, according to documents.

The Huelskamps alleged their son sustained known damages in the amount of $5,005.85. Court records said the total medical expenses incurred were approximately $385, of which $255.85 was paid by the Huelskamps' insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas.

Dynacraft, represented by the Hinkle Law Firm, Wichita, responded to the plaintiffs. It said the injuries, if any, were not of the nature and/or extent alleged and that the boy "failed to mitigate his damages."

In the settlement, the defendants denied liability and intended by the settlement to avoid litigation and the uncertainty and expense of litigation. The parties considered Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas' claim as administrator of a Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan when arriving at terms of the settlement. Dynacraft agreed to pay $5,005.85, according to the settlement.

A check for $4,750 was to be made payable to the Huelskamps and a check for $255.85 was to be made payable to The Rawlings Co. LLC, LaGrange, Ky., which represents health care plans in litigation.

The Huelskamps did not have an attorney representing them. Often in cases such as these, representatives of the insurance company and the defendants handle the matter outside the courtroom. Also, even when an amount is paid to the plaintiff, it's possible there are other liens -- such as from the medical provider or insurance company -- on those dollars.

Reno County District Judge Tim Chambers said there are two years on the statute of negligence to file suit. That allows time to determine the extent of injuries and to deal with insurance companies.

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If an adult settles with an insurance company in an incident such as this, there is no need to go through court. Kansas law, though, says the court has to approve a settlement involving a child, Chambers said.

Efforts to reach spokespeople for the congressman were unsuccessful.


(c)2014 The Hutchinson News (Hutchinson, Kan.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



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