Matthew Scarborough

Florida is a very tough jurisdiction with respect to bad faith. There are two types of bad faith in Florida. One is a third-party bad faith and one is a first-party bad faith. In a third-party case, it is a situation where an insurance company’s insured has been sued and there’s been a verdict over and above the policy limit. With a first-party bad faith claim, you’re suing the first party or your own insurance company. In Florida, there’s a statutory trigger to that under Florida statute 624.155. If you do not pay the amount that the plaintiff wants within the insurance timeframe, which is 60 days, then the insurance company can be responsible for those additional damages, as well as attorney’s fees. It’s a very complicated scenario in both third-party and first-party cases, and that’s why insurance companies need to get counsel onboard immediately.

What Does A Personal Injury Protection Defense Attorney Do For Us?

A PUIP defense attorney, in the most basic form, stops fraud from health care providers, such as overbilling on a particular file. There’s a statutory setup that protects an insurance company a lot. It makes sure that the insurance carrier is being protected pursuant to that statute. The best way to do that is the examination under oath portion, which allows a defense attorney to do an examination, under oath, to make sure there’s no fraud going on.

What Does A Declaratory Judgment Do In An Insurance Judgment Dispute?

A declaratory judgment is probably the best weapon a carrier has in an insurance setting to allow the carrier to get a judgment from the court to declare whether or not there is insurance coverage. What a lot of insurance carriers don’t know is that if you file is declaratory judgment action and consolidate that case with the underlying third party case, you can actually stop the underlying third party case pursuant to a case called State Farm vs. Higgins.

What Damages Does The Plaintiff Generally seek In a Bad Faith Lawsuit?

In general terms, in a bad faith lawsuit, you’re going to be getting a request for any verdict or judgment in excess of the policy limits. If it was a $10,000 policy and it was a million-dollar judgment, they’d be requesting the entire million dollars. It opens up the policy limits, plus attorney’s fees, which can be very expensive. In some circumstances, they can even ask for punitive damages.

Who All Could Be Liable In A Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit?

Most of the time, it’s just the insurance carrier that is liable. Sometimes, it’s also the defense lawyer who is a potential target in a bad faith lawsuit because they didn’t carry out their duties properly. Our firm has been successful in filing these malpractice claims against defense lawyers for their failure to do their job pursuant to the insurance policy.

Our Company Is Being Sued For Bad Faith Coverage. What Steps Should I Take To Protect My Interests?

If you’re being sued for bad faith, you immediately need to get bad faith counsel involved. You should have gotten bad faith counsel involved early to make sure that the case is not being under-evaluated by your defense attorney and to make sure that you’re not going to get a result in excess of the policy limits. If you’re being sued, your defense attorney will meet with all of the claims people, go through the claims, and do a comprehensive case analysis to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly to make sure that you have a good defense.

Can We Countersue For The Aggravation Of Responding To A Lawsuit?

You can’t countersue for aggravation. There are certain leverages you can use, like proposals for settlement. Sometimes, the insured or the plaintiffs can be responsible for attorney’s fees but there is no opportunity to countersue.

If We Can Prove A Benefit Was Excluded From The Insurance Policy. Is That A Defense To A Bad Faith Coverage Lawsuit?

You’ve got to prove coverage before there can be bad faith. If there was no insurance coverage at all, most of the time, there is no bad faith. However, if the company hired an improper defense lawyer to defend the insured or if the case was handled improperly, which led to a problem for the insured and the policy, you have to be careful of making those steps correctly.

What Is The Statute of Limitations On A Bad Faith Coverage Claim?

The statute of limitations on a bad faith claim is four years.

Is it Better To Take a Bad Faith Coverage Claim To Trial Or Should We Settle?

Most bad faith cases settle. The ones that we try have to be overreaching, on the part of the plaintiffs. You have to be able to prove that there has been a bad faith setup on those particular cases.

For more information on Insurance Companies Acting In Bad Faith In FL, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (813) 253-0097 today.

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