Court Awards Families Of Florida Drowning Victims $5.75 M & Says Insurer Acted In Bad Faith

A U.S. District Court Judge recently awarded the families of two Florida drowning victims $5.75 million against the City of Miami Beach for not posting warning signs about dangerous riptides. The $5 million verdict brought closure to a twelve year wrongful death lawsuit and assessed an additional $750,000 against the city's insurer, Monticello Insurance Company, for bad faith insurance practices.

Florida wrongful death

This Florida wrongful death lawsuit involved two families whose Florida vacation ended in tragedy. According to a report in the Sun Sentinel, Eugenie and Israel Poleyeff and Zachary and Frederica Breaux visited Miami Beach Florida in 1997. Eugenie went swimming at a public beach and began fighting strong rip tides that were pulling her out to sea. Her husband didn't hear her screams for help, but Zachary did and went in to save her. Tragically, the tide was too strong and both drowned.

Their spouses hired a Florida personal injury lawyer and filed wrongful death lawsuits against the City of Miami. He was able to show that the City – which is a hot spot for vacationers – did provide parking, showers and concessions near the beach that catered to the public. However, it didn't provide lifeguards, life saving equipment or warn beach goers about riptides. His argument was that vacationers assumed that warnings would be posted since the City provided so many other amenities. He convinced the jury and the families were awarded $5 million in wrongful death damages. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there.

Insurance company refuses to pay its share

Monticello Insurance Company, the Delaware-based insurer that insured the City simply refused to pay its share of the verdict. The families and the City then joined forces and filed a bad faith insurance lawsuit against Monticello – which eventually paid its share – along with $750,000 for acting in bad faith.

These lawsuits took over ten years to resolve due the insurer's bad faith practices and others in similar situations would have simply given up – which is exactly what insurance companies hope. They routinely delay and deny payments and make it so difficult to collect valid benefits, that many would rather avoid the hassle and walk away. However, hiring an experienced bad faith insurance lawyer transfers that hassle to someone who fights insurance company bad faith practices every day and allows you the opportunity to be compensated for what is rightfully yours. Most attorneys handle these cases on a contingency fee basis – which means that you don't need to pay attorneys' fees up front.

The foregoing article has been prepared by an attorney who is a regular contributor to FreeAdvice, and is now undergoing review by the site's editorial staff.