The Middle District of Florida has denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment in a bad faith insurance lawsuit. In Hines v. Geico Indemnity Co., a Florida woman apparently caused a motor vehicle collision while driving a car that was owned by her husband. At the time, the vehicle carried liability coverage with bodily injury limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident. Following the car accident, the wife was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
After the crash, the other motorist retained a lawyer to represent her in the case. The driver’s attorney then offered to settle her claim against the couple and their insurance company for the bodily injury policy limits of $25,000. The attorney also submitted medical and other evidence in support of the driver’s request for damages. The couple’s insurer responded by stating the driver’s personal injury protection coverage already paid her $10,000. In addition, the insurance company offered to pay the injured motorist $3,500 to resolve her claim.
Next, the hurt driver filed a lawsuit against the couple in a Florida court. During the discovery phase of the case, the motorist admitted to being involved in two other traffic collisions, but she asserted that she was not hurt in either of them. The injured driver also offered evidence related to her injuries that purportedly resulted from the crash at issue.
Almost two years after the crash, the injured motorist again offered to settle her claim against the couple. Although the hurt driver accepted a settlement offer from the husband, she retained her claim against the wife. The woman then underwent spinal surgery that was apparently required due to her injuries.
Following spinal surgery, the auto insurer offered to tender the injured driver the remaining damages available pursuant to the policy limits. The motorist instead opted to go to trial, at which a jury awarded her more than $500,000 in damages. Soon afterward, the woman who caused the collision at issue unfortunately passed away. After that, the decedent’s personal representative filed a bad faith insurance claim against the married couple’s liability insurer in the Middle District of Florida. In response, the insurer filed a motion for summary judgment.
According to the court, a motion for summary judgment may be granted when a movant demonstrates that no material facts are in dispute and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. When considering such a motion, a court is required to draw all inferences and view any evidence offered in the light that is most favorable to the nonmoving party.
The Middle District of Florida next stated the purpose of the bad faith statute was to protect insurance consumers from insurers that seek to avoid their obligations under insurance contracts. The court then said that “the totality of the circumstances standard is applied” when determining whether an auto insurer has acted in bad faith.
After examining the record, the court stated there were questions of fact a jury must determine in the case. Because of this, the Middle District of Florida denied the insurer’s motion for summary judgment and ordered the bad faith insurance case to proceed toward trial.
If you were involved in a South Florida accident, you are advised to contact a knowledgeable car wreck lawyer who can advocate on your behalf. To discuss your rights with an experienced Miami car accident attorney today, do not hesitate to call the caring advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.
Hines v. Geico Indemnity Co., Dist. Court, MD Florida 2015
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