A motorcycle accident that caused an amputation resulted in a $4.2 Million award. However, in order to collect that award the victim will need to prove that State Farm Insurance Company acted in bad faith by not timely tendering their $50,000.00 bodily injury liability limits.
The underlying facts are that on June 26, 2007 Ana Lukacs, then 46, was riding her motorcycle when a van allegedly driven by Juan Estrada(state farm insured) crossed in front of her and sideswiped her on westbound Golden Gate Boulevard in Naples . The bike fell to the ground, and she broke her left foot and ankle. She underwent surgery to repair the fractures, but two days later the leg had to be amputated below the knee. At this point State Farm should have made efforts to contact Lukacs, and to deliver a check to her for $50,000.00.(the limits of liability insurance).
Estrada who had been drinking beer and taking Xanax, was found sleeping in the van on a dirt road about a mile from the accident scene.(this is the basis of the award for Punitive damages).
Following a 2 day trial, the jury awarded the following verdict:
- $2.25 million for past and future pain and suffering,
- $1.03 million for past and future medical expenses;
- $872,100 for past and future lost earnings;
- $76,800 in punitive damages
Since it appears Estrada does not have the means to pay a $4.2 million verdict, he will assign his potential bad faith case to Ana Lukacs. Bad Faith law requires the insurance company to place its insured’s interest ahead of its own. If it were not for bad faith law, insurance carriers like State Farm would never settle cases for a fair amount. They would take every case to trial and expose their insured an excess verdict (a verdict in an amount that exceeds the limits of liability insurance). Governor Scott has tried and continues to try to severely limit this most important area of law.
The allegations for the pending bad faith case will be that State Farm did not act in the best interest of its insured because it did not settle the case when it could have and should have done so. In essence the questions will be:
- When did State Farm learn of the accident?
- What did State Farm do when they learned about the accident?
- When did they tender(deliver) a check to Lukacs?
If State Farm did not make efforts to locate Lukacs, and did not deliver (tender) a check to her within 30 days, then they acted in Bad Faith and will be responsible for the entire award.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.