This car accident verdict highlights the importance of Uninsured Motorist Benefits.
In 2009 Hugo Araque was involved in a car accident with a teenage driver. Hugo injured his back, and the teenage driver’s insurance company paid their bodily injury liability limits of $10,000.00. Thankfully, Hugo had purchased an Uninsured motorist policy with USAA insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage provides protection to the insured in the event he/she is involved in an accident that results in bodily injury, and the tortfeasor(person who caused the accident) either does not have any bodily injury liability insurance or does not have sufficient insurance to compensate the insured.
In this particular case, Mr. Arague alleged that his back injuries worsened after the crash and exceeded the $10,000.00 paid by the tortfeasor’s insurance company. Accordingly, he demanded that USAA pay their policy of $200,000.00. USAA refused to do so.
As reported by The Daily Business Review, Harlan Gladstein, the insurance company’s lawyer argued Mr. Arque’s pre-existing back injuries were sustained during military service.
Jurors assessed the husband’s medical expenses and lost earnings at $1.43 million, far beyond the $200,000 benefit. Jurors awarded him another $72,000 for pain and suffering and $73,000 to his wife.
“This was a runaway verdict,” Gladstein said.
A bad faith lawsuit will follow to attempt to collect on the full judgment.
In addition to highlighting the importance of Uninsured Motorist Benefits, the more important part about this verdict is the ability to collect the damages above the policy of $200,000.00. This area of law, which is known as “Bad Faith” is currently under attack. Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature want to do away with Bad Faith Law. This would be one of the most damaging changes to the citizens of Florida.
As a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer, I can tell you it is difficult enough to settle cases with Insurance Companies. If you take away the element of Bad Faith, it will become impossible. To that end, Insurance companies will rarely see fit to settle cases for fair value. More importantly, the citizens of Florida will be at risk of having excess judgment’s entered against them, when an insurance company fails to act in their best interest.