PALM HARBOR, Fla. - The man hit by a group of teenagers speeding in a stolen SUV said he feels like a victim again after a controversial move by his insurance company.
Even though Pinellas County, Florida investigators determined Ricky Melendez was an innocent victim, GEICO just made a big payout to the teens' families after deputies say they embarked on an erratic crime spree, resulting in a deadly crash.
"I didn't even know what hit me, I had no clue," Melendez said of the explosive Aug. 6 collision.
Melendez was blindsided on his way to work by a stolen Explorer speeding 100-plus mph through a red light.
"The only thing that I really remember from the accident was just like a really loud bang, kind of like a gunshot just went off," Melendez said.
Two months after the horrific crash, Melendez is still using a wheelchair, but says he is grateful to be alive.
"I couldn't dress myself for over a month, I couldn't take a shower by myself for over a month, I could barely even use the bathroom by myself."
The 29-year-old was caught off guard this week after receiving an alarming letter from his insurance company.
"It was just like a huge punch in the gut and it just knocked the wind out of me, completely," said Melendez.
It stated GEICO agreed to pay $20,000 to the families of the four teenagers, police say caused the crash.
"It's shocking and I think the best word for it is disgusting," said attorney Mark Roman.
Melendez's attorney tells Tampa-based WFTS, GEICO is damaging his client's insurance record. Melendez fears the insurer may use this as an opportunity to raise his rates.
"I can not find any evidence that a claim was even made and that is extremely disturbing, especially if GEICO sought out these people money they had not right to," Roman said.
Three of the four teenagers died in the crash. Roman believes GEICO could be protecting itself from a potential wrongful death lawsuit.
Melendez is now at a loss why it's his policy paying out thousands after investigators determined he did nothing wrong.
"It's just like constantly reliving, reopening that wound," said Melendez.
WFTS made several attempts by phone and email Tuesday and Wednesday to get comment on this story from GEICO, but have not heard back.
Melendez's recovery continues as he may have to undergo additional surgeries in the coming weeks.
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