February 04, 2016

Florida Court Rejects Motion to Dismiss First-Party Bad Faith Claim Against UM Insurer

8266216454_d24ba2b0fd_bIn a recent case, the Southern District of Florida allowed a first-party bad faith action to proceed against an insurance company, rejecting the insurer's opposition. The case, Levesque v. Government Employees Insurance Co., arose from injuries that the plaintiff sustained during a motor vehicle collision. After the accident, the plaintiff filed a claim for uninsured motorist benefits from her car insurance company. The insurer, however, declined to pay the full policy limits, totaling $100,000, within 60 days after the insurer was given a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation.

After the 60-day period expired, the plaintiff initiated her action. The insurance company conceded that the plaintiff was entitled to full coverage under the policy limits and filed a motion for entry of a final judgment to that effect.

Shortly thereafter, the plaintiff initiated a second lawsuit, claiming bad faith against the insurer pursuant to Florida Statutes Section 624.155. The plaintiff claimed compensation in the amount of the full injuries and damages she incurred as a result of the collision.

In response, the insurer moved to dismiss the lawsuit. In the alternative, the insurer asked the court to enter a stay of the case, claiming that the plaintiff's action was premature due to her failure to provide a total damages figure in the underlying uninsured motorist lawsuit.

In resolving the parties' dispute, Florida's Southern District Court stated that to survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must allege a plausible claim for relief that is apparent based on the face of the complaint. Analyzing the text of Section 624.155, the court concluded that a claim for bad faith cannot proceed against an insurance company while a claim for uninsured motorist coverage is ongoing because the determination of whether the uninsured motorist bears liability must accrue first. Next, the court stated that a plaintiff who suffered injuries in a collision does not need to plead a specific numerical damages amount when bringing a first-party bad faith claim against his or her insurance company.

According to the court, obtaining a verdict concerning the plaintiff's total damages is not the only method for establishing the totality of damages as required in the statute. In fact, Florida case law indicated that an uninsured motorist coverage provider's tendering of the policy limits does not automatically prevent a subsequent first-party bad faith claim. Based on this conclusion, the court held that the plaintiff had sufficiently alleged the elements necessary to establish a claim pursuant to Section 624.155.

If you or someone you love have been injured as the result of a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation. At Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, our car accident lawyers have helped many victims throughout Naples, Cape Coral, and Fort Myers in bringing an action against a careless driver. When necessary, we are prepared to go up against insurance companies to ensure that our clients receive the compensation they are owed. Based on our experience, we know how challenging it can be to negotiate with insurance companies, especially when you are recovering from serious injuries. We will guide you through every step of the process and give you the personal attention that you deserve. Call us now at 1-800-283-7442 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

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Posted in: Auto Accidents

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