A major problem that infects Florida roads and those of us who use them are the drivers that take to driving without or with too little insurance coverage. The problem is obvious: If an under or uninsured motorist gets into an accident that inflicts serious damage to another, he or she will not be able to pay for those damages. In a situation like this, the state of Florida has laws to protect insured motorists.
Florida’s uninsured motorists laws are much like those of other states. When a driver signs up for an insurance policy and includes under or uninsured coverage, they are protected when they get into an accident with a less responsible driver. In that scenario, what happens when the insurance company who should be protecting its client refuses to fill that policy? That is the case that the Florida Supreme Court recently decided.
What Happened in This Case
This case began in 2007 when the victim involved was in an accident with an underinsured car driver. Following the accident the driver had to get treatment for several back injuries, a wrecked car, and faced the prospect of paying many thousands of dollars in hospital bills. As a result, the man filed an underinsured claim with his insurance company for the company limits of $50,000 to cover some of his costs.
At first the insurance company simply did not respond to the demands. After several letters and lawyers getting involved, the insurance company tried to settle the matter for $5,000. It was at this point that the man decided to take his case to court, and he did. Leading up to trial, the man tried several times to get the company to settle for the policy limits, but they never did, until right before the scheduled trial. By then it was too late.
The case went to trial and the jury involved determined that the man suffered $1,000,000 in damages as a result of the accident. After the trial the man asked the court to hold the insurance company responsible for the full amount because of the bad faith in not settling the case as the policy dedicated they should. The company’s representatives argued that they tried to right before trial and therefore should only be held liable for the policy limit of $50,000. This was the question the Florida Supreme Court was asked to answer.
Florida Supreme Court Resolves Uninsured Motorist Laws
The Florida Supreme Court was sympathetic to the man’s claim that the company should have to pay for not settling with him prior to the trial. The High Court ruled that under Florida law, and insurance company can be held liable for the damages found in a case when the do not pay under a policy in bad faith. Unfortunately for this man it took nearly a decade to prove his case, but now he has finally won his case.
This ruling should put insurance companies on notice to deal fairly and honestly with their policyholders in similar cases. At the same time, it lets those who face an unresponsive insurance company that they have options. This is just another example of why it is so important to have experienced legal counsel by your side when dealing with insurance companies.
Panama City Accident and Injury Attorney
If you are an injured victim of a car accident in the Panama City area, contact us. At The Pittman Firm we will be able to help you understand what your legal options are in your case, and what steps you should take to recover for your injuries.