In Germany v. Darby, a Florida man was hurt in a work-related motor vehicle collision that was caused by an uninsured driver. At the time of the traffic wreck, the man was driving a car that was owned by his employer. The employer carried an underinsured and uninsured motorist (“UIM”) policy on the vehicle with limits of up to $500,000 for company “executives, owners, and their family members” and $30,000 for all other individuals. When the employer purchased the policy, the company elected UIM policy limits that were lower than its $1 million bodily injury liability insurance limits on an approved Florida Office of Insurance Regulation form.
Following the crash, the man challenged the limits of his employer’s UIM insurance coverage in a Florida court. According to the man, different UIM policy limits are not allowed under Section 627.727(1) of the Florida Statutes. After analyzing the statute at issue, the trial court disagreed with the man and held that differing UIM coverage limits were permitted under the law. Next, the man filed an appeal with Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.
On appeal, the First District examined the text of Section 627.727(1) in order to determine the legislative intent behind the law. According to the appellate court, the statute expressly allows an insured to select a lower UIM policy limit on behalf of all insured individuals as long as the correct form is completed. In addition, the court said the statute does not state that a single UIM policy limit must be chosen. Since the man’s employer selected a lower UIM policy limit in writing on behalf of all insureds, the Court of Appeal found that the company successfully complied with the requirements of the law.
After that, the appellate court distinguished the man’s case from a Second District appellate court decision, holding that Section 627.727(1) does not allow an insured to reject UIM coverage on behalf of some, but not all, insureds. The court stated the company did not reject UIM insurance on behalf of any of its employees. Instead, the employer opted to provide additional coverage for its “executives, owners, and their family members.” The Court of Appeal then stated the employer’s election of lower limits for some insureds did not violate the UIM statute’s purpose of protecting Florida citizens from drivers who lack motor vehicle liability insurance coverage.
Next, the court stated the man’s employer was permitted to wholly reject UIM coverage for all insureds. Instead, the company elected to cover each worker at a reduced rate. The Court of Appeal said the fact that the employer chose different UIM coverage limits based on an insured’s title did not violate Section 627.727(1) or public policy. After holding that differing UIM coverage limits are permitted under Florida law, Florida’s First District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s decision.
If you were hurt by an uninsured or underinsured motorist anywhere in Florida, you may be entitled to recover damages from your auto insurer. To discuss your situation with a hardworking Miami personal injury attorney, call the knowledgeable lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.
Germany v. Darby, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015
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