Florida Appeals Court Discusses Attorney's Fees

An interesting case was recently decided in the District Court of Appeals of Florida, Fifth District. That case involved a claimant in a personal injury case who demanded that an insurance company pay his attorney fees. There are several provisions in Florida law that allow a judge to issue a ruling for attorney’s fees, and one of those deals with insurance companies.

Attorney’s fees cases can be important for several reasons. First, the law recognizes that access to the court system via an attorney can be expensive. This expense could keep people who have otherwise winnable cases from going to court to pursue their claims. In some of these situations the law provides that a claimant who is successful can reclaim the cost of taking the case to court by making the losing party pay attorney fees.

Another area in which the law enables claimants to collect attorney’s fees is when large companies use the legal system to prevent services they have already agreed to provide. This is the case with insurance companies.

Case Background

In this case, the claimant was in an accident but sued by the two passengers in her car for negligence. As part of her insurance policy her insurance company pledged to provide her with a defense against negligence claims. In the course of the resulting litigation, the insurance company filed for a judgement that they were not obligated to defend the claims and that they should not be obligated to pay for damages.

This course of action caused the insured driver to sue the insurance company for failing to provide him with a proper defense. The case settled and the insurance company withdrew its plea for judgement. It was at this point that the insured driver sought for a judgment of the attorney’s fees he expended in getting the company to comply with their policy.

Florida Law on Insurance Companies and Attorney’s Fees

Florida has a specific statute that allows an insured to collect attorney’s fees when the insurance company does not comply with an obligation in the insurance policy. That law is found in Florida Statutes 627.428. Under the terms of the law, a judge must make an order for attorney’s fees when the insurance company loses a claim for benefits they refused to pay under a policy.

What happened in this case triggered the provisions of this law. The judge ordered that the insurance company pay the insured’s attorney’s fees once they withdrew their claims and settled with insured. The company argued that they were not liable for simply withdrawing their claims, but the court disagreed. This show how serious court’s take an insurance company’s obligation to fulfill with policy obligations.

Panama City Area Accident and Injury Attorney

At The Pittman Firm we look for every avenue of recovery of our clients. We represent victims of accidents and injuries and seek to recover for the pain, suffering, and injuries our clients suffer because of other’s negligence. If you have been injured in an accident or injury, contact us. We look forward to reviewing your case with you.

See related blog posts: Panama City Teen Dies in Motorcycle Crash; Florida Supreme Court Rules: Certain Federal Benefits Inadmissible at Trial.

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