It’s a tragedy in two parts. First comes the horror: a wrongful death that extinguishes a promising, prospering, and peaceful life—someone’s mother, father, husband, or wife. It is unimaginable! But so, too, is the second part: an insurer that decides to put its own interests first, unreasonably refusing to settle within policy limits—and leaving the insured at risk, ultimately resulting in a verdict far exceeding the coverage amount.
Thus, a wrongful death case ultimately becomes a bad-faith insurance claim. Scenarios like this play out all the time. Even after the huge punitive damage awards that lawyers have obtained in bad-faith insurance cases, they continue to happen frequently.
The rule is simple: Insurance carriers have a duty of good faith and fair dealing when it comes to their insured. That means if there’s a chance the claim will be greater than the policy limits—say, in a case of catastrophic injury or wrongful death—insurers can’t act unreasonably by not settling within those limits. Juries and courts have been very clear about this with insurance companies that looked out only for themselves, ultimately forcing them to pay verdicts far in excess of the coverage amount.
South Florida has not been immune to the self-serving actions of insurance companies that are supposed to do right by their customers, yet do quite the opposite, compounding one harm with another. It’s something the Miami injury attorneys at Grossman Roth take very seriously—and have been very successful in correcting.
Case in point: Grossman Roth attorneys recently secured a large confidential settlement on behalf of the family of Mark Zieminski, who was just 38 years old—and a father of four—when his motorcycle was struck by a 16-year-old driver who had unexpectedly turned into his path. Zieminski—who had been on his way to work—was killed. His family and their future were devastated.
Then came the neglect and mishandling by the defendant’s insurance carrier, State Farm Insurance. The owner of the vehicle the teenager drove, a State Farm agent, was exposed to tremendous liability when the company failed to tender the insurance policy limits in a timely manner. The insurer’s good-faith duty became a bad-faith insurance claim.
Through the effort and hard work of the Grossman Roth attorneys, the case settled with the insurers paying an amount well in excess of the policy limits. The tragedy couldn’t be undone—but some of the injustice was.