Auto insurance is required of drivers in Florida, and we trust that when we pay our premiums in full and on time, the insurance companies will do as they promise.
However there are many cases in which insurers don’t follow through on their end of the bargain. Even victims who are seriously injured often don’t receive adequate compensation until an experienced personal injury lawyer gets involved. It is the attorney who initiates negotiations that lead to just compensation, usually after the insurance company throws low-ball settlement offers or outright refuses payment. And when insurers dig in their heels and refuse a settlement, it is the lawyer who fights for the rights of the injured at trial.
In a recent case out of Miami, it took 10 years, but a former doctor and his wife may finally be receiving the insurance compensation they deserve, following a horrific crash on I-95.
The claim involves uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM benefits) that are paid for by motorists to pay for personal damages in the event an at-fault driver either lacks insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all losses resulting from negligence. It puts the insurer in the shoes of the third-party that was uninsured or underinsured, so if that other driver is found liable, the insurance company is responsible to pay. However if the insured is responsible for the crash, insurers will not cover damages.
According to reports from The Associated Press, plaintiff, a former chiropractor, and his wife were traveling on I-95 in Miami when a motorist slammed into an 18-wheel oil tank truck. The force of that impact sent the passenger vehicle careening out-of-control across three lanes and into oncoming traffic. That’s where it collided with plaintiff’s vehicle.
The damage was significant. The vehicles were totaled. But worse, the doctor suffered spinal and urological injuries that will never fully heal. The crash, which happened in 2004, has left the doctor unable to continue working in his profession.
In addition to losing his income, the doctor’s medical bills were piling up.
All of this was through no fault of his own. But the driver of that first car? He had no auto insurance, as required by law. The driver of the 18-wheeler, meanwhile, had minimal insurance, and it wasn’t enough to cover the total cost of plaintiff’s damages.
The good news was, plaintiffs smartly paid for a UM/UIM policy that would provide coverage in this exact kind of scenario. The bad news was the insurer refused to pay it.
It isn’t clear from news reports why the claim was rejected by the insurer. Sometimes claims are rejected if the insurer finds it was the insured who was responsible for the crash or that plaintiff’s car accident injuries aren’t as serious as alleged.
However, if plaintiff in Florida can show an insurance company acted in bad faith in rejecting a clearly legitimate claim or in only offering to settle for an unfair sum, he or she may be entitled to compensation that includes additional damages.
In this case, after insurer denied the claim, they took the company to court. Jurors found the driver of the passenger car was liable, and he didn’t have insurance at the time, so that meant plaintiff’s UM/UIM carrier was responsible to provide coverage, and ordered payment of $14.5 million plaintiff. That amount included a sum payable to the wife for loss of consortium.
This is just one example of how injury lawyers are helping to fight for justice for car accident victims.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
Couple wins $14.5 million in lawsuit over 2004 uninsured motorist crash on Interstate 95, Nov. 8, 2015, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Uspenskaya v. Meline – Collateral Source Rule in Injury Cases, Nov. 8, 2015, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog