GEICO recently agreed to pay out a reported $20,000.00 to the families of three criminals who died when they blew through a red light at more than 120 mph and smashed into Rickey Melendez. Mr. Melendez was on his way to work. These three criminals, Keontae Brown (16), Jimmie Goshey (14) and Dejarae Thomas (16), had 126 arrests between the three of them according to a Tampa Bay Times article.
What is morally reprehensible about this settlement is that GEICO is giving the money to the very parents that allowed their kids to rack up this kind of criminal history at such young ages. These deceased criminals are 1st in my book of who to blame, but a close second is mom and dad. GEICO’s decision to pay these families is ridiculous from a moral and legal position.
Wrongful Death in Florida
The only claims that could have been brought by the parents or other personal representatives of the dead criminals is for wrongful death. To make a claim, they would have to prove that Mr. Melendez was at fault. The entire crash was caught on video. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s did not ticket Mr. Melendez. Had any of the three criminals in the car survived, they would have faced a litany of felony charges. The only ones at fault were these three criminals and their parents.
Damages in Wrongful Death Cases
Even if a jury were to find that Mr. Melendez was at fault to some small degree, wrongful death actions in Florida pay only certain damages. As criminals with extensive records, it’s questionable whether their parents (survivors) or their Estates had any compensable damages. First, the parents should not recover for their emotional loss in this situation. Why didn’t they know where their kids were at 4:00am? Why didn’t they stop them at arrest 10 or 20 from continuing down this path? I can imagine the lawyer(s) for the dead criminals’ families talking about the loss of their criminals’ love and affection. The real question is, if there was so much love and affection, how did these kids end up with 126 arrests before nearly killing Mr. Melendez? I can’t imagine a jury feeling sympathetic to their claim against the man they almost killed on his way to work.
I handled hundreds of cases for insurance companies fighting some frivolous and some legitimate claims before I switched sides. It is amazing that of all the fights I fought to save big insurance money, they would pay this frivolous claim.
As a personal injury lawyer, I see big insurance companies like GEICO refusing to pay legitimate claims every day. Last year my firm obtained the largest wrongful death verdict in the entire state of Florida, and the seventh largest verdict/judgement in the entire United States. We strive to take on the right cases for good people who were injured by the negligence of others. We will never take on cases for scumbags trying to cash in on their dead kids. The actions of GEICO and the lawyer(s) for the dead criminals make me sick to my stomach.
If that hurts your feelings, hire someone else. Our firm is incredibly selective in the cases we take and clients we go to battle for. We will never pursue a case or cause that we don’t personally believe in. At the end of the day, I can be proud of what I do and the results we obtain for our clients. I can’t imagine the lawyers for the dead criminals or GEICO feel the same.