Middle District of Florida Refuses to Order Summary Judgment in First-Party Bad Faith Case

In Cadle v. GEICO General Insurance Co., a woman was apparently hurt in a 2007 Florida rear-end automobile collision. Immediately following the accident, the woman received medical care at a local hospital. Over the course of the next 28 months, the injured woman was treated for her alleged neck and back harm by a number of doctors. In late 2009, she also underwent surgery related to the vehicle crash.

The injured woman’s automobile insurer was reportedly notified of the accident on the date it occurred. About one year later, the company offered to settle the woman’s underinsured motorist (“UM”) claim for $500, although it was authorized to pay her almost $20,000. Instead of accepting the settlement offer, the woman ,sent a demand letter to her insurance company, seeking the full UM policy limits of $75,000. The insured also provided the company with a copy of her medical records and stated she was considering surgery to treat her accident injuries. The following month, the company offered to settle the woman’s UM claim for $1,000.

The injured woman eventually filed a lawsuit in Brevard County against her automobile insurer. After learning that the woman underwent surgery related to her collision, the automobile insurance company offered to settle her case for the full UM policy limits. The woman rejected the company’s offer and instead received an award of $900,000 following a jury trial. The trial court, however, entered judgment in the woman’s favor that was only equal to the UM policy limits of $75,000.

In 2013, the injured woman filed a first-party bad faith insurance claim in the Middle District of Florida against her auto insurer. In her lawsuit, the woman sought to recover the remaining balance of the jury’s award. The insured next filed a motion for summary judgment with the court. Such a motion may be granted only when no genuine issue of material fact exists, and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. A motion for summary judgment will typically be reviewed in the light that is most favorable to the non-moving party.

According to the federal court, a first-party bad faith case is essentially a disagreement between an insurer and an insured regarding the value of a particular claim. Florida law, however, provides a remedy to an insured whose claim is adjusted in bad faith. In order to evaluate whether an insurer acted in bad faith, a court must examine the “totality of the circumstances.” The court added that bad faith is more than simple negligence on the part of an insurer.

After examining the facts of the woman’s bad-faith insurance case, the Middle District of Florida held that there was sufficient evidence to conclude the automobile insurer acted in good faith. Because of this, the court denied the woman’s motion for summary judgment.

Automobile insurance companies sometimes refuse to pay valid personal injury claims. If you or someone you love was hurt in a South Florida car wreck, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation for your harm. The experienced lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. are here to help. To speak with a caring personal injury attorney about your rights, do not hesitate to call Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Cadle v. GEICO General Insurance Co., Dist. Court, MD Florida 2014

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