Many bikers ride with the minimum and no uninsured motorist coverage. Good coverage for me in Tampa runs about $900 a year. Without uninsured motorist, it would be less then 1/3 of that. For me, it's not worth it.
"Crash victim fights for $18 million jury award from Tampa"
The drastic turn in fortune began on Nov. 22, 1996, when Companioni was riding his motorcycle on Hillsborough Avenue and, according to witnesses, a city water truck pulled in front of him near 50th Street. The accident left him with head, spine and internal injuries.
He's accepted that he will never fully recover from those injuries. He's still fighting, though, to recover an $18 million verdict a jury awarded him after his wreck — and he now has a state senator on his side.
After the wreck, Companioni filed a lawsuit against the city. In 2004, he won the $18 million award, which has withstood years of appeals by the city.
What the city paid, though, was $100,000, the amount at which state law caps liability for government entities. The restriction is designed to keep cities and counties from going bankrupt if they lose a major lawsuit.
The claims bill tallied Companioni's medical expenses at more than $1.2 million. The $100,000 he collected from the city was eaten up almost immediately by medical costs. He now lives on his disability check and the extra cash he makes selling hot dogs outside Tampa Bay Buccaneers games.
To get the full amount awarded by the verdict, the Florida Legislature would have to pass a claims bill. Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, has taken up Companioni's case.
"I wish they would do what they are supposed to do," he said. "I believe strongly that I've done everything I was supposed to do. I believe in the justice system, the city should too."