Insurance companies can be difficult to deal with. Whether it is an aggressive representative trying to get an accident victim to settle a case for a low-ball amount or a claims adjuster denying a seemingly valid request for compensation, insurance companies are not known for their customer service. In fact, in many cases people have to turn to the courts to enforce their own insurance policy against the insurance company. That is exactly what happened in a recent case in front of the Florida Supreme Court.In the case, Fridman v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois, the plaintiff was hit by an underinsured motorist and turned to his own insurance company, Safeco, for help. However, Safeco denied the plaintiff’s claim. After continuing to try and get a response for several years, the plaintiff finally filed a lawsuit against Safeco, compelling them to deal with the claim. The lawsuit was filed pursuant to a statute that allowed for recovery in excess of the policy limit.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Safeco sent the plaintiff a check for $50,000 in an attempt to pay out the claim. However, at this point the plaintiff rejected the check, and opted to have a jury determine how much he was entitled to. The case proceeded to trial, where a jury awarded the plaintiff $1 million. Safeco appealed to the intermediate appellate court, which reversed the lower court’s opinion, and held that the $50,000 check given to the plaintiff was, in effect, a settlement that prevented the case from proceeding toward trial. The plaintiff then appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.