Drunk Driver and Insurance Carrier = Bad Faith Case
Belky Cruz had just braved another trip to the grocery store. After selecting the items on her list, she waited in line, paid for her groceries and with shopping car loaded was headed to her car. Wham! The next thing Belky remembers was her shopping cart being hit by a car and being thrown to the ground.
Due to this incident Belky Cruz now suffers from lower back pain and carpal tunnel injury sustained from the fall. This causes her great difficulty as she continues to care for her 20+-year-old autistic child.
Without a doubt, driver Charles Foster caused this incident to happen. Upon being administered a blood alcohol test the results produced a .28 reading or three times the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Florida.
Space Coast Underwriters insured Foster. However, they waited what seemed to be an eternity to pay Belky Cruz the policy limits, which was indeed in their best interest and that of Charles Foster whom they insured. The company willfully breached its duty to Foster by potentially exposing him to a verdict in excess of the policy limit.
This incident is a classic case of insurance bad faith. Space Coast Underwriters basically avoided addressing this matter, potentially at the expense of their insured party. Knowing that Belky Cruz had suffered both physical and emotional harm from an incident for which she had no fault, they chose to let her wait an unacceptable amount of time before attempting to resolve the issue. Their behavior is a clear signal that consumers should thoroughly investigate an insurance company before signing on the dotted line. A company’s behavior in settling a claim could end up causing substantial personal liability for the individual that has purchased insurance, who is supposed to be protected by that insurance company.
Thanks to the hard work by Murray Guari, the Belky Cruz case was settled well in excess of the policy limits established. At mediation, it was evident that the liability and responsibility in this case were clearly theirs, but also that this particular company approached the situation in bad faith and was required to pay for that.