Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Don't miss
Home / Verdicts & Settlements / Brain-damaged teen collects insurance payouts for wreck

Brain-damaged teen collects insurance payouts for wreck

A teenager who suffered brain damage in a car crash received a total of $1.275 million from two insurers, according to his attorney.

Dawson Katzenberger, 19, got a $1.2 million payout from his own insurer and another $75,000 from the underinsured defendant driver’s insurance company, said his lawyer, Jacob Murov.

Katzenberger got a ride from classmate Maxim “Max” Chebanenko on April 30, 2018. The pair headed off in Chebanenko’s 1997 Mazda Miata, which was adorned with racing stickers and outfitted with a racing harness and tow strap. The passenger’s side had the manufacturer’s standard restraint system, according to Katzenberger’s 2019 petition filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Chebanenko told police that he rounded a curve above the posted speed limit, swerved right to avoid deer and an oncoming vehicle, hit a tree and spun back across the road, Murov said. Witnesses told police they saw deer but no vehicle. Murov said his client was able to collect the full amount on the family’s State Auto policies on three vehicles for his injuries; and he recovered the full amount under the uninsured motorist provision for the “phantom vehicle” that contributed to the wreck.

Katzenberger, of Barnhart, already has undergone multiple surgeries, spent six weeks in intensive care and six months in a rehabilitation center. He will require the use of a wheelchair, undergo more surgeries and require more rehabilitation. He has past and future medical expenses; economic losses; and ongoing emotional pain and suffering. These factors made it possible to show that each insurance claim was distinctly different, Murov said, allowing the policy limits to be stacked.

Resolving the settlements with State Auto before suing the defendant was a first for Murov, he said.

“This was the first case where we actually resolved the uninsured and underinsured before resolving against the tortfeasor,” he said. “Normally that’s not ripe until the tortfeasor is resolved.”

The Chebanenko family, of Arnold, was paying a premium for their son to drive a “high performance vehicle,” Katzenberger’s petition said. Even so, the policy limits were just $75,000. The lawsuit claimed Max Chebanenko’s parents were negligent in overseeing their son’s driving habits and allowing and paying for him to install racing items on a car “they knew was being put to dangerous use or creating an unreasonable risk to others,” the suit says.

The parents said in a motion to dismiss that the wreck could not have been avoided and they did not know about their son’s involvement with racing. In addition to the $75,000, the mediator ordered Max Chebanenko to complete 100 hours of community service.

The Chebanenkos’ attorneys, Michael Maguire of Brown & James and William Thomas of Gausnell, O’Keefe & Thomas, could not be reached for comment.

RELATED: Click to search for and submit your Verdicts & Settlements

Motor-vehicle Collision, Insurance

Venue: Jefferson County Circuit Court

Case Number/Date:  19JE-CC00113/Jan. 2, 2020

Mediator: Barbara Wallace

Insurer: State Auto for plaintiff, Farm Bureau of Missouri for defendant

Caption: Dawson Katzenberger v. Maxim Chebanenko, Leyna Chebanenko and Nickolay Chebanenko

Plaintiff’s Attorney: Jacob Murov, Bader & Murov, Clayton

Defendants’ Attorneys: Michael Maguire, Brown & James, St. Louis; William Thomas, Gausnell, O’Keefe & Thomas, St. Louis