John Camfield struck five children who were getting off of a school bus at Allegheny Road and Athabasca Drive in Poinciana, Florida on April 27, 2017. Camfield fled the scene of the accident afterwards and is suspected of drunk driving. Two of the children were reported by the news to be in critical condition and were between 12 and 15 years old. Updated news reports indicate that one of the critically injured children died.
The bus served Dundee Ridge Middle Academy. Camfield is charged with two counts of driving under the influence with serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury. In addition, Camfield is charged with three counts of DUI with injury and property damage along with reckless driving as a lesser included offense. Camfield’s charges will likely be amended to include DUI manslaughter with a mandatory minimum sentence after the death of one of the students.
John Camfield pleads to charges relating to this accident.
What Insurance Claims Are Currently Available?
Medical care for the injured children should come from a combination of no-fault insurance and health coverage. While there is presently a bill in the Florida Legislature to eliminate no-fault insurance, it is still the law and the coverage should be available for this claim.
Many people who have never been in a car accident before do not know that no-fault coverage is your own insurance policy. While it may seem unfair that your insurance company has to pay for an injury that was not your fault, this is the way that no-fault insurance works (it is also one of the reasons why Legislators are debating whether to get rid of it). However, it only provides $10,000 in coverage and will likely be exhausted very quickly by the hospital. At that point, health coverage takes over. In many cases such as this one, the hospital will usually write-off or waive the co-pay or unpaid balance because of the circumstances.
After the injured children’s medical needs are taken care of, it is time to think about making claims against Mr. Camfield. In all likelihood, Mr. Camfield probably does not have very much (or any liability insurance) and likely has no assets that are reachable by a civil judgment. Assuming that there is a 10/20 policy, the five injured children would be left to divide $20,000 among themselves. Quite frankly, there is no fair way to do that under the circumstances. While punitive damages are available under Florida law for drunk driving accidents, every automobile insurance policy that I am aware of has a specific exclusion for payment of punitive damages. Therefore, any payments for punitive damages must come from the driver himself.
Once Mr. Camfield’s insurance policy has paid, each injured child may live with a family member with uninsured motorist’s coverage (UM). Regardless of the amount that each child receives from an underlying bodily injury settlement with Mr. Camfield, it won’t be enough to fully satisfy (aka bring justice to) the injured children’s claims.
Re-Payment Of Medical Liens
One of the unfortunate parts about being a Florida personal injury attorney is informing people that Medicare, Medicaid, or their health insurance company has to be repaid from the settlement. This particularly hurts when there wasn’t enough money to go around in the settlement itself. While Medicare has its own formulas for lien reductions and hardship, Florida Medicaid is controlled by statute to where there is generally little to no negotiation. Finally, your health insurance company may or may not be required to negotiate depending on the policy, whether it was provided as an employee benefit under ERISA, and how the plan is funded. These are all issues that a personal injury attorney can help with.
Contact A Polk County Personal Injury Attorney About Help For Your Case
If you have been injured in an accident in Polk County, Florida or had a child injured on a school bus, you should contact a Lakeland personal injury attorney for free advice on your case. An appointment with an attorney is free. Call today to schedule you free consultation.
— Amy Gehrt (@AmyGehrt) April 28, 2017