A jury in Miami awarded a $14.5 million to husband and wife in a Miami-Dade Circuit Court trial against Geico General Insurance Co. and an uninsured driver who was deemed negligent in a severe 2004 automobile accident.
In the Nov. 2 verdict, a jury awarded former chiropractor David Zucker and his wife Carrie a total of nearly $14.5 million for past and future lost earnings, medical expenses and pain and suffering damages. David Zucker suffered permanent spinal injuries and urologic injuries as a result of the accident. The total damages also included $2.5 million awarded to Carrie Zucker for loss of consortium, or her suffering as a result of her husband's injuries.
Attorney Crane Johnstone of Schlesinger Law Offices P.A. presented the case on behalf of the family. He was assisted by senior trial attorney Charles Patrick. Judge John Schlesinger, a former federal prosecutor who is not related to anyone in the law firm, presided over the trial.
In December 2004 near the Golden Glades Interchange, Miguel Gonzalez collided with Juan Chirino, who was driving an 18-wheel oil tanker. The impact sent Gonzalez careening across three lanes of northbound traffic before he crashed head on into Zucker's car. Carrie Zucker, who was a passenger in the car with her husband, was pregnant at the time.
Gonzalez was uninsured, while Chirino was underinsured. State law requires auto insurance carriers like Geico to offer uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits to policyholders. David and Carrie Zucker's policy included such benefits. Therefore, Geico stood in the shoes of Gonzalez and Chirino.
Geico rejected the claim and refused to pay for the damages, which led to the Zucker lawsuit. Chirino testified at trial as a witness but was not a defendant in the case.
The jury concluded Gonzalez was 100 percent responsible for the total damages. That ruling put Geico on the hook for the entire award.
"It was a privilege to appear before Judge Schlesinger and our jury on behalf of the Zucker family, who waited 11 years for their day in court," Johnstone said.
Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Schlesinger Law Offices P.A. is a personal injury law firm focused on holding big corporations and major manufacturers accountable for the harm they cause and the damage suffered by the general public through acts of negligence and misconduct. The firm is currently working on cases involving Big Tobacco, Accutane medication, defective medical devices, and defective drug products. For more information log on to schlesingerlawoffices.com.