Nationwide ordered to pay $8.2 million insurance claim over fatal Georgia car accident

by Jay Pate

A Georgia appeals court has ruled that Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. acted in bad faith by failing to settle insurance claims arising out of a fatal car accident. In upholding an $8.2 million ruling against Nationwide, a three-judge panel for the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court did not err in its pretrial rulings or jury instructions for a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who caused the fatal crash.

The accident in question occurred in 2005, when a vehicle driven by Nationwide policy holder Seung Park struck a car being driven by Stacey Camacho. Camacho died two days after the accident. Park was drunk at the time the crash occurred, and later pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter.

Camacho’s widower, Jesus Camacho, and the administrator of her estate, LeJean Nichols, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Park. After Nationwide failed to accept a settlement in the case, the lawsuit went to trial. Camacho and Nichols were awarded a $5.8 million verdict by a jury.

Before the trial, Camacho and Nichols reached an agreement with Park that if the jury returned a verdict in excess of his $100,000 Nationwide policy limit, they would not attempt to seek that sum from Park personally. Rather, Park would assign any potential bad-faith or negligence claims against Nationwide that arose out of the lawsuit to Camacho and Nichols.

After the jury returned the $5.8 million verdict in 2009, Park assigned his insurance claim against Nationwide to Camacho and Nichols, who filed a lawsuit against the insurance company for failing to settle the claim. Nationwide was found liable for the full $5.8 million verdict, as well as $2.4 million in interest.

Nationwide filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit, arguing that the original trial court had erred in its pretrial rulings and jury instructions. The insurer argued that the judge’s jury instructions that a finding of negligence on the part of Nationwide was sufficient grounds for a judgement of liability against the insurance company.

In its ruling, the 11th Circuit rejected Nationwide’s arguments, finding that the trial court had not erred in its rulings or instructions. The court upheld the “thorough and well-reasoned final order” by the lower court, as well as the $8.2 million total award against Nationwide.

Insurance Litigation Claims Handled by HO&P

Individuals who are covered by an insurance policy may be able to receive compensation from their insurance company for injuries, medical bills, and other expenses incurred in an accident. If you believe you were treated unfairly by an insurance company, you should consult with an attorney who has the experience and resources to pursue a “bad faith” lawsuit against an insurance company.

Insurance companies must also defend policyholders against personal injury claims or other litigation they may face arising out of an accident. When an insurance company accepts a policyholder’s premiums when no claims are made, that insurer should be equally willing to support the policyholder when a claim is made. When the company refuses to do so, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit.

When an insurance company denies legitimate claims that ought to be paid, the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are willing to take action to expose wrongful conduct on the part of an insurer and hold them accountable for their improper and illegal actions. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we stand up for individuals and companies who find themselves injured in a car accident, especially those cases when an insurance company refuses to treat them fairly.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson, have handled hundreds of cases involving bad faith insurance claims or personal injury lawsuits. Our law firm has the resources to handle a case from start to finish. In many instances, our law firm has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to take a case to trial on behalf of our client. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

If you or a loved one have been the victim of an accident, or if your insurance company has failed to honor its obligation to settle your insurance claim, contact the law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about how we can help. For a free legal consultation, call toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or follow the link to our free case evaluation form and answer a few quick questions about your case to get started.

by Jay Pate

John “Jay” Pate is a licensed attorney who focuses his practice on complex tort litigation involving catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and product liability cases.