In a recent opinion, an appellate court in Florida addressed the applicability of the set-off defense after a car accident victim filed a claim for damages with an insurance company. The plaintiff suffered injuries when an uninsured motorist crashed into his car, resulting in serious physical and property damage to the plaintiff. In response, the plaintiff filed a claim with his insurance company under the uninsured/underinsured (UIM) provision in his policy. The insurance company denied the claim, and the plaintiff filed a lawsuit for breach of contract.
A jury determined that the plaintiff was entitled to damages for his loss of earnings, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Subsequently, the insurance company contended that the trial court erred in failing to set off duplicated benefits that the plaintiff obtained from other sources. The defendant asked the court to set off from the damages award, the amount of any settlements the victim received that duplicated any part of the verdict.
The court analyzed Florida’s set-off rules and concluded that the trial court should amend the verdict to reflect the duplication. After a car accident, injury victims may obtain benefits from more than one source for a single accident or claim. This often occurs when the negligent motorist or their insurance company settles or pays out damages for a portion of the victim’s losses. In most cases, the settlement amount specifies what exactly the payout covers. For example, the settlement amount may specify that the payments are for medical benefits or lost wages. Although, Florida’s laws allow double recovery, there are restrictions when there is a duplication of benefits.