Franklin D. Azar & Associates attorney DezaRae D. LaCrue was recently named to the American Board of Trial Advocates, an elite group of experienced trial lawyers and judges. ABOTA is an invitation-only organization that seeks to promote the highest standards in legal advocacy.
It’s the latest in a series of honors recognizing LaCrue, who’s also been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers in 2017, 2018, and 2019, and designated a Top 10 Under 40 by the National Academy of Personal Injury Litigation. Yet such accolades are only an indirect acknowledgement of the results she has obtained for clients in the courtroom.
Around the Azar firm, “Dez” is known for her expertise in personal injury cases and particularly her skill and determination in pursuing difficult bad faith insurance cases. Her prowess was on display last month when a jury awarded her client more than $900,000 in damages, after his insurance company failed to pay for the full extent of his injuries in a devastating car accident.
LaCrue’s client had been driving on I-25 near Lone Tree when he was involved in a four-car crash on November 1, 2016. He was rear-ended, and his vehicle was then pushed into the car in front of him, which was pushed into another car. Our client went to the emergency room with neck and back pain and eventually had lower back surgery. But his insurance company, Allstate, refused to pay his medical bills, citing previous back surgery that the plaintiff had undergone thirty years earlier.
“They didn’t pay a penny from 2016 until our verdict in 2020,” LaCrue observes. “That’s three years of waiting for your insurance company to do the right thing.”
On February 10, a jury awarded LaCrue’s client $371,059 in economic damages (including medical expenses), $175,000 for non-economic damages (including pain and suffering and loss of quality of life), and $175,000 related to Allstate’s bad-faith conduct. A finding that there had been delay and denial of the claim also doubled the uninsured motorist benefit limit of $100,000 and resulted in an award of attorney costs related to that denial.
Shortly after the verdict, Allstate and the plaintiff reached a confidential settlement for an undisclosed amount. “The key to these cases is that you have to have bad insurance conduct and a client with real injuries,” LaCrue explains. “In this case, it was an adjuster’s decision to deny the claim. They didn’t contact any medical professional. They should have contacted my guy’s treating doctor before reaching that decision.”
Raised in Trinidad, LaCrue earned her law degree at the University of Denver in 2008. She worked at a medical malpractice law firm for seven years before joining Franklin D. Azar & Associates in 2015