An appellate court recently issued an opinion in a bad faith insurance lawsuit stemming from an accident between an 18-year-old driver and a motorcyclist. The accident occurred when the 18-year-old turned into a median in front of the biker. The biker slammed into the driver’s car with such force that the vehicle spun 180 degrees. The biker suffered serious injuries from the collision and was airlifted to a hospital.
The 18-year-old was driving his mother’s car at the time of the accident, and when he called the insurance company, he reported property damage but neglected to report any physical injuries. The insurance company interviewed the driver, who disclosed that the biker suffered injuries, and he indicated that the biker might have been speeding. The preliminary insurance investigation revealed that the accident occurred in a low-speed limit area, the motorcycle left long skid marks, and the driver did not receive a citation. With these facts, the insurance company concluded that the biker was likely contributorily negligent.
About ten days after the accident, the insurance company decided to tender the bodily injury limits to the biker; however, they asked the biker’s attorney if they could inspect the motorcycle. The next day the insurance company delivered a “tender package” to the biker’s attorney. The package included a cover sheet and described the content of the delivery, which included a $50,000 check and a form that released the company of “all claims.” The letter invited the biker’s attorney to edit the release or suggest changes to a release. The biker’s attorney did not address the release but rejected the offer stating the insurance company was trying to take advantage of the biker and his family by including an overbroad release.
Courts evaluating a Florida bad faith insurance claim must look at the issue under the “totality of the circumstances.” The critical inquiry in these cases is whether the insurance company diligently worked on the claim as if it were in the insured’s shoes. While overbroad releases may create a jury question, it does not necessarily do so.
In this case, the claimant argues that the lower court erred in granting summary judgment because there was a fact question about whether the insurance company acted in bad faith. In this case, the insurance company reiterated that the release was merely a starting point, and they were open to discussion or changes. However, the biker’s attorney failed to offer any cure to the release’s conditions. As such, looking at the totality of the circumstances, no reasonable jury could conclude that the insurance company acted in bad faith.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Accident
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a Florida car accident, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. The lawyers at our office have extensive experience successfully advocating for Florida accident victims. We handle claims involving motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and wrongful death. Our lawyers understanding the daunting nature of these claims and work with clients at every stage of their claims. As a result, we have recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients and their families. Contact our office at 305-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our team,