My actual case: $30,000 Settlement (Gross) for young lady who was diagnosed with a herniated disc after drunk driver rear ended her in Miami, Florida.
The settlements in this article are before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.
My client’s main injury was a herniated disc that was impinging on the spinal cord and thecal sac. She had a neck and back pain. I understand how to get your medical bills from a car accident in Florida so we made a claim under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on my client’s mother’s auto insurance policy.
Geico provided uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under my client’s mother’s auto insurance policy. The policy offered $10,000 of available uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per vehicle, and there were three (3) motor vehicles insured by the policy.
Unfortunately, the drunk driver’s insurance was expired at the time of the accident. The drunk driver refused to blow into the breathalyzer. She was arrested and charged with DUI. Her criminal case was still pending while our client’s UM claim was open with GEICO.
We sent GEICO a demand letter which included our client’s medical bills, records, etc. We gave GEICO five (5) days to deliver a settlement check in the amount of $30,000 to our office. We allowed GEICO to have their doctor reread the MRI report.
According to the GEICO adjuster, their radiologist stated that our client had a bulging disc (not a herniation) and it was not pressing on the spinal cord. This is one of the typical arguments that liability insurers make in herniated disc cases.
One of the similarities between a herniated disc and a shoulder (rotator cuff) tear is that the claims adjuster will often argue that the injury was pre-existing. Therefore, this is something you should consider when putting a settlement value on a shoulder (rotator cuff) tear case.
However, our client was in her late teens. Orthopedic doctors in Florida, and neurologists in Florida – and anywhere – will agree that it is not normal for someone who is under twenty (or even in their early 20’s) to have a herniated disc. GEICO offered $20,000.
One of the reasons why Geico may not have offered its $30,000 limits at this time was because the claims adjuster knew that in order to get money for pain and suffering in most car accidents in Florida caused by someone else, you must prove that you have a permanent injury.
In a slip and fall case in Florida, you do not need to prove that you have a permanent injury in order to make a claim for pain and suffering. Therefore, the pain and suffering component of a herniated disc in slip and fall settlement in Florida may be higher than in a car accident case.
We spoke with our client and advised her not to accept this offer. We also argued that our client’s injury was significant and that we were seeking punitive damages in addition to other damages . GEICO failed to timely (within 30 days) send us copy of the uninsured motorist policy which they are required to under Florida insurance law.
We alleged that GEICO failed to act in good faith in accordance with Florida laws. I argued that the uninsured motorist coverage was stacking. There were 3 vehicles listed on the policy and each vehicle had $10,000/$20,000 per person/incident in UM coverage. Therefore, I demanded the policy limits of $30,000.
We take a very tough stance against drunk drivers. We settled this claim for $30,000 (gross) within months. We settled it before a lawsuit was filed and before she finished treating with her doctors.
Normally the reputation of a liability insurer affects the amount of the settlement. But an insurance company reputation affects a Florida injury case the least if the claim is worth more than the policy limits. Many Florida insurers, regardless of their reputation pay the limits of the value of the case is greater than the policy limits.
If our client had been hit by a Publix, Walmart or Winn Dixie truck instead of an uninsured driver, then we would have still made a UM claim with Geico. We have made this argument before by arguing that if the negligent party is self-insured or has a self-insured retention (SIR), then they are considered “uninsured” under Florida law and my client can immediately make a UM claim.
The UM claim is in addition to a claim against the self insured entity.
One of the reasons that GEICO settled for $30,000 rather quickly was because its insured was drunk. Liability insurers generally offer more money to settle if their insured’s intoxication caused your accident. The ability to make a punitive damage claim is one of the 39 factors that can affect the value of a Florida personal injury case.
This settlement was in line with the full value of pain and suffering for settlement purposes in a Florida accident for this particular injury. Our client was very happy with the result. I think that this is a good neck injury settlement and back injury settlement.
I have settled many Florida drunk driving accident cases where my client was hurt. Many of those cases involved car accidents in Miami-Dade County and Broward County, Florida.
I also handle DUI injury cases throughout the entire state of Florida. I have written extensively about Florida DUI crash injury cases.
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