Florida Appeals Court Holds Auto Insurer is Not Liable for PIP Benefits Above the Statutory Maximum Absent Bad Faith

Airbag morguefile dodgertonskillhauseIn Geico Indemnity Co. v. Gables Ins. Recovery, Inc., a woman was hurt in a motor vehicle collision. Following the accident, she obtained medical treatment and assigned the personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits provided by her car insurance company to the business that performed her x-rays. The company then assigned the woman’s PIP benefits to a medical insurer. After the medical insurer submitted a request for payment to the woman’s motor vehicle insurer, it received less than the total bill.

Next, the medical insurer filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the motor vehicle insurance company. According to the auto insurer, it paid the full benefits of $10,000 under the woman’s PIP policy to the plaintiff pursuant to Section 627.736(5)(a)2.f. of the Florida Statutes. The medical insurer argued that the PIP provider was required to pay 80 percent of the woman’s medical bills and filed a motion for summary disposition. The motor vehicle insurance company then filed a cross motion, stating all of the woman’s PIP benefits were exhausted. The trial court granted the medical insurer’s motion, and the PIP provider appealed the case to the Circuit Court of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit. After the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order, the auto insurer filed an appeal with Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals.

On appeal, the PIP provider argued that the lower court misapplied the law. According to the company, it could not be held liable for PIP benefits in excess of the $10,000 policy limits under the Florida Statutes. The medical insurer countered that the car insurance company committed a breach of contract when it refused to pay the entire amount of the woman’s medical bills. After stating the statutory cap for PIP benefits in Florida was $10,000, the Third District said the lower court failed to properly apply controlling case law when it held that the auto insurer was required to pay more than this amount.

The appellate court next held that a Florida motor vehicle insurer could not be held liable for more than $10,000 in PIP benefits except in situations of bad faith. In addition, the appeals court said the lower court’s error could affect numerous other cases. Finally, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals quashed the lower court’s order holding that the automobile insurance company was liable for more than $10,000 in PIP benefits.

If you or someone you love was hurt in a Miami car accident, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help you protect your rights and recover the damages your injuries merit. To discuss your case with a caring attorney, call the hardworking Florida personal injury advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Geico Indemnity Co. v. Gables Ins. Recovery, Inc., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2014

More Blog Posts:

Florida Appeals Court Orders New Trial in Motorcycle Crash Case, December 8, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Tampa Court Holds Diversity Jurisdiction is Proper in Medical Malpractice Case Where Parties Were Fraudulently Joined, November 26, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Photo Credit: DodgertonSkillhause, MorgueFile

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