A lady was driving her car on State Road 826 (The Palmetto) near NE 17 Avenue in North Miami Beach, Florida.
As you can see from the diagram above, Vehicle 1 made a left hand turn in front of vehicle 2’s path.
Sara was driving vehicle 2. She struck vehicle 1, causing her SUV to run off the road to the right and hit a business sign. It caused damage to the sign.
Sara’s Airbags Deployed
Sara’s front airbags deployed. At the tow yard, Sara took photos of the deployed airbags.
The airbags of Vehicle 1 also deployed.
Vehicle 1’s Driver Gets Ticket
Vehicle 1’s driver got a ticket for failure to yield right of way while entering an intersection.
Vehicles Towed from The Scene
Both vehicles were towed due to damage. The photo below shows the damage to vehicle 1.
The driver of vehicle 1 was issued a citation in violation of right of way.
Sara Was Driving Without Car Insurance
Sara owned the SUV that she was driving when the crash happened. She didn’t have auto insurance. Thus, she didn’t have Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) insurance benefits.
Since the crash happened in Miami-Dade County, and Sara wasn’t insured, the careless driver wasn’t responsible for up to $10,000 of Sara’s medical bills.
Sara’s Health Insurance Paid Most of Her Bills
Since Sara didn’t have car insurance to pay her medical bills, she used her health insurance. Her health insurance paid most of her medical bills.
They paid only after we sent them an affidavit that she was uninsured when the crash happened.
Paramedics Put a Neck Brace on Sara
The paramedics put a cervical collar (“C Collar”) on her neck. She was smart to take a photo of her wearing it.
She Had Swelling to Her Hand
Sara had swelling on her hand. The ER doctor wrapped her hand with gauze.
Hospital X-ray Shows Nose Fracture
Sara had an x-ray taken of her nose at the hospital. It showed that she had a non-displaced nose fracture.
She didn’t need treatment for her nose fracture.
Sara Had Major Back Pain Before Accident
Before the crash, Sara had back surgery (partial left hemilaminectomy) at L5-S1.
After the crash, Sara had a MRI which showed a central and right paracentral ventral extradural defect, which appears to represent a recurrent disk herniation on this noncontrast exam.
There was flattening of the ventral thecal sac and mild central canal stenosis.
She Claimed the Crash Aggravated Her Pre-existing Herniations
- L1-2, a posterior central disk herniation, which indents the ventral thecal sac. There is annular tearing present. The disk herniation extends approximately 4 mm beyond the disk margin.
- L5-S1, a central and right paracentral ventral extradural defect, which appears to represent a recurrent disk herniation on this noncontrast exam. There is flattening of the ventral thecal sac and mild central canal stenosis.
Sara Claimed that the Crash Aggravated Bulging Discs in Her Back
- L3-4, there is a broad-based bulging annulus with flattening of the ventral thecal sac. There is mild central canal stenosis.
L4-5, there is a broad-based bulging annulus with flattening of the ventral thecal sac.
Sara Claimed the Accident Caused Her Neck Pain
An MRI showed the following at:
- C3-4, there is a bulging annulus, which abuts the ventral thecal sac.
C5-6, there is a posterior central disk bulge, which abuts the ventral thecal sac.
The MRI showed straightening of the normal cervical lordosis is present.
She Received Physical Therapy for Her Back and Neck
Sara received physical therapy to her back and neck.
GEICO Insured The Careless Driver (Vehicle 1)
GEICO insured vehicle 1. We sent a letter to GEICO asking them to tell us their insured’s bodily injury (“B.I.”) liability insurance limits.
They had a $100,000 BI policy.
We Quickly Sent GEICO Sara’s Records, Bills and Photos
I sent GEICO Sara’s medical records, bills, and photos as we received them.
Doctor Gave Sara a Nerve Root Block at L5-S1 for Her Severe Back Pain
Due to her severe low back pain, Dr. Santiago Figueroa gave her diagnostic bilateral L5-S1 nerve root blocks. The doctor allowed Sara to video them giving her this nerve root block.
I sent a portion of the video to GEICO’s adjuster. In the video, you can hear Sara screaming a few times due to the pain of the nerve root block.
Doctor Recommended Surgery to Her Lower Back
A neurologist recommended that she have surgery on her herniated disc.
GEICO Offers Nothing for Months
GEICO offered nothing for a couple of months after the accident.
We Asked Vehicle 1 Driver to Complete Form Showing Her Assets
I sent an asset and course and scope affidavit to the driver who received a ticket. However, both she and the car owner refused to complete an affidavit that asked her to state:
- Her assets
- Whether she was in the course and scope of her employment when the crash happened.
Vehicle 1 Driver/Owner Get Attorney
Vehicle 1’s driver/owner hired an attorney to protect them. I sent their attorney a copy of a verdict from a case where a jury found that GEICO acted in bad faith by failing to protect its insured.
The point of me sending this was to show GEICO’s insureds that juries have determined that GEICO has acted in bad faith before.
I Sent GEICO Some Past Jury Verdicts for Herniated Disc Cases
I told GEICO that Florida juries often award compensation for the non-economic damages (pain and suffering, etc.) component of injuries – that are similar to Sara’s – in excess of GEICO’s $100,000 policy limits.
In addition to pain and suffering, I told GEICO that Sara had a claim for past and future medical expenses, and future lost wages.
Below is a short summary for the pain and suffering component alone of some jury verdicts that I sent GEICO. In each case, medical bills were also awarded, though I didn’t include them.
Sometimes the medical bill component is very large. The awards below also don’t include lost wages.
Lost wages were awarded in some of those claims. They are not my cases.
Herniated Discs Verdicts (Pain and Suffering Damages)
Ernest v. State Farm, Welch, & Gooding Kahrs Duval 3/21/13 $1,088,000
Bakalar v. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Dade 5/19/06 $1,062,400
Love vs. Hartford Insurance Hillsborough 11/6/09 $825,000
Botchey v. Rombola & Hernandez Duval 11/9/12 $536,715
Desouza v. Hurtado and Escobar Palm Beach 3/30/12 $350,000
X Mendez-Ruiz v. American Security Dade 6/13/13 $200,000
I’ve also attached a jury verdict for a bulging disc. In Carpineto v. Wal-Mart, in 2002, a Florida jury awarded $23,000 for pain and suffering for a bulging disc.
Carpineto v. Wal-Mart Florida May, 2008 $23,000
Sara Has 3 Minor Children
I advised told GEICO that Sara’s injuries have impaired her ability to take care of her three (3) minor children. I told them that they should take this into consideration when valuing her claim.
This is relevant to the valuation of her claim, because pursuant to Florida Statute § 627.737(2), she can recover damages against GEICO’S insured(s) “for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury” resulting from the car crash if she suffered a “permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.”
I Asked GEICO if It Was Rewarding Its Adjuster for Low Offers
I emailed a letter to GEICO that asked the GEICO adjuster if she was rewarded for settling cases for a smaller amounts. She never responded to this.
I sent a copy of this letter to Marina’s attorney.
I told GEICO that if we sued and find out that Marina was on a cell phone at the time of the wreck, we would seek punitive damages, which are not covered by her insurance policy.
I Filed a Consumer Complaint with Florida’s Department of Financial Services
Since GEICO didn’t offer us the $100,000 BI limits, I filed a consumer complaint against GEICO with Florida’s Department of Financial Services.
GEICO Offers $100K Limits Before Surgery is Scheduled
GEICO is a below average insurer for paying personal injury claims. However, they paid the $100,000 limits faster than some other car insurers would have paid.
I withdrew the consumer complaint after GEICO told me that they were sending the $100,000 limits check to me.
Although GEICO didn’t admit liability in the settlement release, I think they treated this case as 100% liability on their insured.
After my attorney’s fees, costs, and all of Sara’s medical bills and liens were paid, she got over $56,500 in her pocket.
Sara was very happy with the settlement. She was referred to us by a past client whose car accident case I settled for $75,000.
This is one of my hundreds of Florida personal injury settlements.
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