Southern District of Florida Allows First-Party Bad-Faith Action Against Insurer to Proceed

In Levesque v. Government Employees Insurance Co., a Florida woman sustained serious injuries in a car accident that was caused by an uninsured motorist. Following the crash, the woman sought uninsured motorist (“UM”) benefits from her automobile insurance provider. Since the insurance company failed to provide the woman with the full policy limits of $100,000 within 60 days of being provided with a Civil Remedy Notice of Insurer Violation, the woman filed a lawsuit against the company in a Florida state court. The insurer admitted the woman was entitled to recover the full policy limits and moved for entry of final judgment.

After procuring a final judgment against the auto insurer, the woman filed a statutory bad-faith case against the company under Section 624.155 of the Florida Statutes. In her lawsuit, the woman sought damages for the full value of her injuries from the insurance company. The insurer responded to the hurt woman’s complaint by filing a motion to dismiss or stay the case. According to the company, the woman’s action was premature because she failed to establish her total damages in her underlying UM lawsuit.

First, the Southern District of Florida said a complaint must state a plausible claim for relief on its face in order to survive a motion to dismiss. Next, the court analyzed the language of Section 624.155. The court stated a bad-faith claim may not proceed against an auto insurer while a UM coverage action is ongoing because a determination of liability on the part of the uninsured motorist must first accrue. The court then said an injured plaintiff is not required to plead a precise amount of damages when filing a first-party bad-faith action against his or her UM insurer.

The federal court stated that obtaining a verdict regarding a hurt plaintiff’s total damages is not the only way to establish the extent of damages requirement enumerated in the statute. In addition, the court said prior Florida case law established that a UM insurer’s payment of the policy limits did not preclude a subsequent first-party insurance bad-faith claim. After examining the facts of the case, the court held that the woman successfully pleaded all elements required to establish a Section 624.155 claim.

Next, the court declined to stay the lawsuit until the Supreme Court of Florida decided a pending case because the ultimate holding would have no bearing on the case before it. Finally, the Southern District of Florida denied the insurance company’s motion to dismiss the injured woman’s first-party bad-faith lawsuit.

If you were seriously injured in a South Florida car accident, you need a knowledgeable personal injury attorney on your side. To discuss your right to recover damages for an auto accident with a diligent Miami personal injury attorney, call the committed advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Levesque v. Government Employees Insurance Co., Dist. Court, SD Florida 2015

More Blog Posts:

PIP Benefits Not Due When Insurer Lacked Notice in Florida Pedestrian Injury Case, October 23, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Appeals Court Rules Summary Judgment Was Not Merited in Florida Negligence Case, October 20, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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