Florida Court Issues Opinion in Case Involving Uninsured Motorist Dispute

Recently, a Florida appellate court issued an opinion in a plaintiff’s appeal of several issues in a car accident lawsuit against their uninsured motorist carrier (UM). The case stemmed from a chain-reaction three-car accident. According to the court’s opinion, the driver of the first car made a sudden lane change and abruptly slammed on their brakes. This resulted in the second-car rear-ending the first car, and the third car, driven by the plaintiff, slammed into the second car. The driver of the first car received a citation and assumed liability.

Shortly after the accident, the plaintiffs sent a demand letter to their UM carrier. They requested full policy coverage but failed to include the husband’s medical records. After the UM requested additional information, the plaintiffs asserted their rights again, and included medical documentation. The UM carrier denied coverage, and requested several other pieces of information, including confirmation of the host vehicle’s coverage, tender of available coverage, and additional hospital records. Certain information indicated that the husband might have been mostly at fault for the accident. However, the plaintiffs advised the company that they would sue if the company did not pay the full benefits. The husband filed a Civil Remedy Notice (CRN), and a jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, apportioning 90% fault on the first driver, and 10% on the husband. However, the court reversed jurisdiction to conduct a bad faith trial.

After an initial mistrial, both parties filed motions to preclude the admission of certain documents. The court granted the defendant’s motion to admit the parties’ mediation activity log. The defendants used the log to show that the plaintiffs initially wanted a $50,000 settlement instead of their current demand of $500,000. The husband argued that the log was inadmissible because it was confidential, irrelevant, violated the trial court’s orders, and would only inflame the passions of the jury.

Under Florida law, bad faith claims revolve around whether the insurance company correctly investigated a claim and gave fair consideration to a reasonable settlement offer. Bad faith claims are reviewed by looking at the “totality of the circumstances.” However, the primary focus on a bad faith claim is on the insurer’s actions, not the claimants. In this case, the UM’s activity log was intended to establish that the plaintiffs acted in bad faith. However, the court found that this ruling was contrary to the objective of a bad faith claim, as it focused attention on the actions of the insured. Ultimately, the court found that the log should not have been admitted.

Are You Involved in a Florida Insurance Dispute?

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Florida car accident and is having trouble collecting compensation, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The attorneys at our office have extensive experience successfully advocating for our clients when dealing with at-fault motorists, negligent corporations, and insurance companies. We represent clients in their claims stemming from car, truck, motorcycle accidents, insurance disputes, defective product claims, and injuries involving acts of medical malpractice. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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