Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident case discussing whether the plaintiff’s claim that her insurance company acted in bad faith should be permitted to proceed towards trial. Ultimately, the court held that although the insurance company eventually made payment under the plaintiff’s policy, the payment was too late. Thus, the court permitted the plaintiff’s case to proceed.
Bad-Faith Claims Against Insurance Companies
Under Florida law, insurance companies must provide timely payment to policyholders. If an insurance company does not make payment on an insured’s claim, the insured can pursue a bad-faith claim against the insurer. However, before this type of claim can be pursued, the insured must file a civil remedy notice (CRN), giving the insurance company 60 days to respond and cure the bad faith.
In its opinion, the court explained that the plaintiff and another driver was involved in a Florida car accident in the summer of 2013. For the purposes of this opinion, it was agreed that the plaintiff was not at fault. Both the plaintiff and the at-fault driver were insured by the same insurance company. Because the plaintiff’s injuries were serious and exceeded the coverage limits of the at-fault driver’s policy, the plaintiff filed a claim under the at-fault driver’s policy as well as her own underinsured motorist (UIM) policy.
The plaintiff’s claims were not promptly paid, and the plaintiff filed suit against the insurance company on December 10, 2013. Not long after that, the insurance company provided payment for the plaintiff’s claim under the at-fault driver’s policy. However, the insurance company refused to pay the plaintiff for her UIM claim.
On December 18, 2013, the plaintiff filed a CRN. The insurance company received the CRN on December 26, 2013. Eventually, the insurance company agreed to pay the plaintiff for her UIM claim, however, it was not until February 21, 2014, that the insurance company sent the plaintiff a check.
The plaintiff continued with her bad-faith claim, arguing that the 60-day period for which the insurance company had to cure any bad faith began on December 18, 2013, when she filed the CRN. The insurance company argued that the period did not begin until December 26, 2013, when it received written notice of the CRN.
The Court’s Decision
The court began by noting that Florida bad-faith claims require the insurance company be given an opportunity to cure any alleged bad faith. This is embodied in the requirement that the plaintiff files a CRN and then wait 60 days before pursuing a bad-faith claim.
Here, the court concluded that, under Florida law, a document is considered filed when the person filing the document “clicks the ‘submit’ button at the end of an electronic form.” In this case, the plaintiff electronically filed the CRN on December 18, 2013, meaning that the 60-day period ended on February 17, 2014. Because the insurance company had not made payment by February 17, 2014, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s bad-faith claim should be permitted to proceed towards trial.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Car Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Florida car accident, the dedicated South Florida injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank can help. We have extensive experience representing injury victims pursue claims for compensation against those who are responsible for their injuries. To learn more about the services we provide, and how we can help you start on the path to financial recovery, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Florida Premises Liability Based on a Third-Party’s Criminal Activity, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 22, 2019.
The Concept of Personal Jurisdiction in Florida Personal Injury Cases, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 7, 2019.