Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals Holds Man Must Litigate Injury Case Separately From Bad-Faith Insurance Claim: GEICO Casualty Co. v. Barber

The District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District has ruled that a man must litigate his bad-faith claim against an automobile insurance company separately from his personal injury case. In GEICO Casualty Co. v. Barber, a man filed a complaint for uninsured or underinsured motorist benefits from his automobile insurer following an injury traffic crash. The man also filed a Civil Remedy Notice claiming his harm exceeded his policy limits. The insurer responded to the man’s claim by stating it would not offer to pay him the entire policy limits of $10,000.

Several years later, the insurer sent the man a proposed settlement offer of $10,000 after learning he underwent surgery that was apparently related to his accident injuries. Despite the insurer’s proposal, the man refused to accept the company’s offer of settlement.

Eventually, the insurer filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to rule in the company’s favor. Before the court issued a ruling, however, the injured man amended his complaint and asserted additional claims against the insurance company. After the court held several hearings, it granted the insurer’s motion with regard to the underinsured motorist benefits because the company made a confession of judgment. A confession of judgment normally occurs when one party to a lawsuit agrees to allow the opposing party to enter judgment against it. In addition, the court allowed the injured man to file a second amended complaint including a bad-faith cause of action against the insurer. The insurance company responded by filing an appeal with Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals.

According to the insurer, the lower court’s order allowing the man to file a second amended complaint was inappropriate because the company confessed to judgment. The insurance company argued that the court no longer had jurisdiction over the dispute, absent issuing a judgment in favor of the man in the amount the company agreed to pay. The appeals court agreed and stated the only issue before the trial court was the uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.Since there was no dispute between the parties regarding the insurance policy limits, the court held that the injured man must litigate his bad-faith claim against the insurance company in a separate and distinct action not related to the company’s contractual obligations.

If you were hurt in a Miami motor vehicle collision, you may be entitled to collect damages for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. To discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney, do not hesitate to contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call today at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

GEICO Casualty Co. v. Barber, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 5th Dist. 2014

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