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Posts Tagged "punitive damages"

Bar Patron Injured In Tampa Car Crash Versus Building Might Be Entitled To More Benefits Than He Realizes

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Motor vehicle accidents

Bar Patron Injured In Tampa Car Crash Versus Building Might Be Entitled To More Benefits Than He Realizes

An unsuspecting Tampa bar patron may be entitled to PIP benefits, bodily injury liability benefits, and even punitive damages after he was injured in an odd accident this week in a Tampa bar.   The OrlandoSentinel.com website reported about the Tampa drunk driving accident.   Apparently a woman named Sully Marie Torre–Medina lost control of her car Tuesday night, causing it to crash into the patio area of the Independent bar in Tampa.  A 34-year-old gentleman named Wesley Kincaid was apparently sitting in the bar’s patio area, was injured in a crushing injury as a result of the crash, and had to be taken to the hospital.   Mr. Kincaid may not realize it, but because he was involved in an accident arising out of the use of a motor vehicle, he may immediately be entitled to insurance benefits to pay his hospital and medical bills.  If Mr. Kincaid owns a car, he would be entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits under his own automobile insurance coverage.  If he doesn’t own a car, he would be entitled to PIP from Ms. Torre-Medina’s car insurance company.  (Download your FREE copy of our Florida PIP guide, by clicking here.)   Additionally, if Ms. Torre-Medina carried bodily injury coverage on her car (which is optional in Florida – but shouldn’t be), he can make a personal injury claim against her.  Because Ms. Torre-Medina has been accused of DUI, and found to be in possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia, Mr. Kincaid may also have a punitive damages claim against her.   We obviously hope that Mr. Kincaid will make a speedy recovery from his injuries.  He seems to have just been at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Nevertheless, we thought his situation was important as an illustration of all the different benefits that might be available in a Florida car accident involving a pedestrian or anyone else who is not inside a vehicle at the time of a crash.   If you have any questions following a Florida car accident of any kind, or about Florida car insurance and how it works, please call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at 407–254–4901, or visit our website.  You can also download a FREE copy of our popular Florida accident guide by clicking...

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Punitive Damages Appropriate For Drunk Driving Texting?

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015 in Motor vehicle accidents, Uncategorized

Punitive Damages Appropriate For Drunk Driving Texting?

As a frequent blogger on legal issues over the last several years, I spend a lot of time looking for stories and thinking of ways that I can can blog about topics that will be instructive to people (and particularly Floridians) who are in need of information relative to Florida personal injury law.  Along these lines, I read a harrowing article in the New York Times that seems like a perfect illustration of a case where punitive damages should be available, and should be sought in a personal injury case. In the case at issue, an avid bicyclist (who, ironically, was also an outspoken bicycle safety advocate) from the Baltimore, Maryland area, was hit and killed by a car being driven by a prominent Bishop in the Maryland Episcopal Diocese. According to police, the Bishop was legally intoxicated at the time of the crash, and was also texting.  In addition, the Bishop reportedly left the scene of the crash, and the bicyclist in the road, while she drove home and called one of her church colleagues to help her.  Needless to say, the Bishop made several outrageous errors in judgment that lead to the death of the bicyclist. It has been the law in Florida for a long time that punitive damages can be sought in any case involving drunk driving.  Courts have decided that drunk driving is such a scourge in society that anyone who does it and causes injuries needs to be punished over-and-above adequately compensating the injured victim. The law in Florida is a little less settled when it comes to punishing drivers who injure someone while they are texting, although recent trends suggest that texting while driving should be cause for punitive damages. However, when those two clearly dangerous and life-threatening driving behaviors are combined, it would seem appropriate to levy some kind of extra punitive damages — if such a thing were possible. There is nothing more dangerous that I can think of than for a drunk person to drive and text at the same time.  Catastrophic results are almost guaranteed to happen. (As an additional aggravating factor in the Baltimore case, it appears that the Bishop had recently been charged in another case with driving under the influence.  This, of course, suggests that the Bishop has a drinking problem and perhaps should not have been on the road.) I certainly do not know whether a civil claim for wrongful death was, or has been, brought against the Bishop on behalf of the Estate and survivors of the deceased bicyclist.  I certainly hope that one has, and that the Bishop’s insurance company has adequately compensated the family of the deceased.  For the sake of the surviving family, I also hope that the bicyclist carried plenty of Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage.  Many people do not realize that this type of coverage can be used to compensate...

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Nationwide’s Bad Faith May Cost It $18M, On $25K Original Claim

Posted by on Jul 29, 2014 in Motor vehicle accidents, Uncategorized

Nationwide’s Bad Faith May Cost It $18M, On $25K Original Claim

How many people would have the stamina to stay after an insurance company for almost 18 years in an effort to make the company treat them fairly? I have to admit that I was extremely impressed with the determinations shown by Daniel and Sherri Berg of Reading, Pennsylvania, and their $18 million lawsuit against Nationwide Insurance that was recently tried to verdict up in Pennsylvania.  The insurancejournal.com reported that the $18 million bad faith judgment against Nationwide is likely the largest damage award in Pennsylvania history involving an insurance companies wrongful conduct. The dispute started back in 1996 when Sherry Berg was involved in a car accident involving her Jeep.  She took her Jeep to a local repair shop where the initial mechanic recommended that the Berg’s Jeep be considered a total loss.  Unbeknownst to the Bergs, Nationwide rejected this initial appraisal, and asked the mechanic to issue a new appraisal recommending repairs,  allowing Nationwide to save about half the cost of a total loss.  Not knowing anything different, the Bergs approved the repairs.  Of course, the Bergs did not realize that this meant that they were driving a vehicle that was likely very unsafe and not crashworthy had the Bergs been involved in another crash.  The Bergs testified that their vehicle never seem right after the repairs. Nobody would have been the wiser except that an employee of the car dealership secretly called the Bergs several months later and related to them what happened with their vehicle. The Bergs consequently asked Nationwide to do the right thing, consider their vehicle a total loss, and pay them money for the total loss.  Nationwide refused, and a lawsuit ensued. Well, almost 20 years later, the Bergs have secured an $18 million punitive damages award against Nationwide Insurance.  In his ruling, the trial judge noted that Nationwide spent approximately $3 million in attorneys’ fees just to defend its actions on a claim that could have been resolved for $25,000 or less 18 years before.  The judge found that Nationwide and its handling of the Berg’s collision claim demonstrated a reckless indifference to its customer. As much as we would all like to think so, insurance companies don’t always have our best interests in mind — and especially our own insurance companies that we pay valuable premiums to every month.  Unfortunately, as a Winter Park personal injury attorney who deals with insurance companies and insurance issues all of the time, I am fortunately see this all the time.  In Florida, if an insurance company does not attempt to resolve claims in good faith, the company can be made to pay damages plus the claimants attorneys’ fees and court costs. If you have any questions regarding an insurance company’s handling of an automobile accident claim, or if you think an insurance company failed to deal with you in good faith, call Winter Park...

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