Insurance Company Refuses Offer to Settle of $25,000; Jury Awards $4.4 Million
Following a 2015 Gwinnett County, GA verdict awarding $3.7 million to a man whose back was injured in an auto accident, his lawyers collected another $700,000 in attorney fees after the insurance company refuses offer to settle under Georgia’s offer of settlement statute.
The insurance company refused multiple offers to settle for her policy limits of $25,000 early in the litigation, and later declined a $475,000 settlement offer. The insurer offered to pay $11,000 in response to the early demands meant it was aware that its driver bore some liability. The plaintiff had $13,000 in medicals and made a $25,000 demand.
The lead attorney for the defendant insurer, Waldon Adelman Castilla Hiestand & Prout partner Daniel Prout, Jr., did not respond to requests for comment concerning the settlement.
The accident happened in 2012 when a Chevrolet Colorado driven by Walter Smalls was struck by a Lincoln Navigator driven by Maria Camarillo. Smalls’ 18-year-old daughter, a passenger in the pickup truck, was the more seriously injured, although Smalls suffered abrasions to his face and a leg injury. After he was released from the hospital, Smalls experienced a sharp pain in his back that continued to worsen despite treatment. Then a 47-year-old electrician, Smalls ultimately required surgery and had to give up his profession, his lawyers said.
Camarillo’s insurer, Omni Indemnity, paid her $25,000 policy limits to Smalls’ daughter after a pretrial demand but refused four policy limit demands on Smalls’ behalf. The insurer responded with an offer of $11,000 and continued to decline policy limit demands as Smalls’ medical bills mounted. After Smalls sued in Gwinnett County State Court in 2013, the insurer offered Camarillo’s $25,000 limit during a mediation, which was declined. In 2014, Omni Indemnity turned down the $475,000 offer of judgment, and a few months before trial it rejected a demand for $1.2 million.
Following a four-day trial before Judge Pam South, the jury returned a $3.7 million verdict in November 2015. Full Story
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