Two Orlando area teenagers were killed in an automobile accident while street racing another teen. The car was traveling so fast, that upon impact with a tree, the vehicle split into two. The front of the car continued down the road with one body in it, while the rear stayed in the tree, with the other deceased. It appeared that the car they were racing did not crash. Although unfortunate, the scenario does present an interesting legal question. First of all, the driver of the other vehicle might have some sort of liability for causing this accident. But how much blame is to put on the other driver? Also, would the passenger who died have a cause of action against the driver of his car. Would it make a difference if they began the night not intending to race but then the driver entered into one. How would this be affected if the passenger encouraged the behavior? What if the passenger did not encourage it, would he reasonably be expected to step out of the car as the driver races?
We have an case where a passenger was injured because of the negligence of the driver who may have been street racing. A second car was never found. The passenger asked for the Bodily Injury Liability coverage of 10,000 because of the injuries he sustained in the accident. The insurance company did not pay him a dime and did not offer the money until we got involved. In Florida, insurance companies have a duty to have fair dealing with their insured. When they do not pay on the policy when they clearly should, they are in breach of contract. Under Florida law the insurance company could be liable for any judgment against its insured when the insurance company is found to breach it’s contract. What this means is that if an insurance company denies a claim that results in a big verdict against its insured, then the insurance company will ultimately be responsible for paying that amount, even if it is over policy limits.