It’s been two years since a Hillsborough County wrongful death case began and the county is ready for resolution. The lawsuit began when a Florida mother of three was killed in a car accident. Darcia Dominguez was a nurse with a beautiful family and a lot to live for when her car hit a Hillsborough County semi. Her family filed a lawsuit against the county, but the county’s insurance company has been dragging out a settlement. Now the county is fighting back with a new lawsuit against Star Insurance Company for blocking settlement talks with the Dominguez family. “It’s really appalling what the insurance carrier has put our clients through,” said Ian Osur, the Dominguez family’s attorney.
The fatal accident happened early on a February morning in 2010. Dominquez died from injuries sustained during the accident five days later. Police ruled that the accident was Dominguez’s fault. The truck was pulled to the shoulder after experiencing engine problems. The driver said he had placed cones behind the truck, but was unable to turn on the emergency blinkers because the truck was out of power. Officers said Dominguez should have seen the truck ahead and had time to stop, but she did not put on her brakes before hitting the truck.
Osur disagrees with the police report. He said the truck should have been pulled into the grass median. He also argued that the cones were not placed behind the truck in the proper manner. Other evidence seems to be at play, although attorneys are not willing to release details. The County seems eager to settle with the Dominguez family because of the “significant risk of a substantial verdict against the county” according to the county’s attorneys.
However, no settlements talks have been successful to date. In fact, Star Insurance Company continued to block settlement talks completely. The county had liability insurance up to a limit of $2 million at the time of the accident, which should be available through a settlement to the family. However, the insurer doesn’t want to pay up.
Now a whole separate lawsuit will have to be sorted out between Hillsborough County and Star Insurance Company. Osur said that he does not intend to stall the Dominguez case to wait for the county to sort out their affairs. “If we get a verdict in the multimillions of dollars, the county will be responsible, and Star Insurance will be responsible,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything so blatantly wrong in my 34 years of practice.”
Tampa wrongful death attorney Christopher Ligori agreed that the situation had gotten out of hand. “At some point, someone will have to pay up if the County wants to settle. Whether it’s the insurance company or the County itself, the money has to come from somewhere or the family can take the case straight to court, foregoing settlement completely. In this case, that could make this much more expensive for everyone involved.”