The estate of an 86-year-old Milford woman who died days after a crash last year on a state highway near her home has been approved for a $230,000 settlement.
A probate court judge approved the sum for the three children and one grandchild of Geraldine Rozgonyi, whose Honda Fit was struck by a Hyundai Sonata driven by underinsured motorist Yolanda Hill. Hill had been traveling in oncoming traffic on Route 1 (Bridgeport Avenue) when she crossed in front of Rozgonyi to make a turn and crashed into the front driver’s side of the car.
Ansonia attorney Keith Murray, representing the plaintiffs, said Rozgonyi succumbed to severe internal injuries five days after the accident. Hill was issued an infraction for failure to grant the right-of-way at an intersection.
Murray said he brought suit against The Hartford Insurance Co. after the carrier was delayed in returning his calls. “My biggest challenge was getting The Hartford to get back to me on this wrongful-death issue,” he said. “It seemed to just drag on. It was getting to the point where I thought we were doing well, but then it faded. I’d rather negotiate and not file a suit, but I had no choice here.”
Murray said The Hartford cut a check for $11,000 in late August 2017 for the total loss on Rozgonyi’s car, but then balked when Murray tried to collect on Rozgonyi’s $250,000 underinsured motorist policy. Murray said after the insurance company paid the $11,000, he did not hear from it again on the underinsured policy until he brought the action.
The Hartford came to the negotiating table soon after a Feb. 26, 2017, lawsuit was filed in New Haven Superior Court, Murray said.
Hill’s carrier, GEICO Insurance, paid a $20,000 policy limit to the victim’s estate Feb. 22, 2017, about one year after Rozgonyi died. Acknowledging this payment had been made, The Hartford ultimately agreed to settle the pending matter for its $250,000 underinsured policy limit, minus the $20,000 already paid by GEICO.
The lawsuit was filed, Murray said, to compensate Rozgonyi’s family after her death and because the funds were available to the family per the terms of the underinsured policy.
Murray said Rozgonyi’s estate will receive $150,000 of the $230,000 settlement. Remaining fees will go to the attorney fees and to Optum, the company holding a lien on behalf of the Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C, which covered Rozgonyi’s care at the Milford and Bridgeport hospitals. Additional medical costs were incurred while she was a patient at West River Rehabilitation in Milford.
Murray said family members were pleased to have the settlement finalized. “They are happy with the outcome,” he said. “This was their mother and grandmother that passed away.”
The Hartford was represented by Kirby Huget, a senior staff attorney with the Law Office of David J. Mathis in Hartford. Huget did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Media relations representative Matt Sturdevant of The Hartford was not immediately available for comment.