The Applicability of the Set-Off Defense in Florida Car Accident Claims

In a recent opinion, an appellate court in Florida addressed the applicability of the set-off defense after a car accident victim filed a claim for damages with an insurance company. The plaintiff suffered injuries when an uninsured motorist crashed into his car, resulting in serious physical and property damage to the plaintiff. In response, the plaintiff filed a claim with his insurance company under the uninsured/underinsured (UIM) provision in his policy. The insurance company denied the claim, and the plaintiff filed a lawsuit for breach of contract.

A jury determined that the plaintiff was entitled to damages for his loss of earnings, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Subsequently, the insurance company contended that the trial court erred in failing to set off duplicated benefits that the plaintiff obtained from other sources. The defendant asked the court to set off from the damages award, the amount of any settlements the victim received that duplicated any part of the verdict.

The court analyzed Florida’s set-off rules and concluded that the trial court should amend the verdict to reflect the duplication. After a car accident, injury victims may obtain benefits from more than one source for a single accident or claim. This often occurs when the negligent motorist or their insurance company settles or pays out damages for a portion of the victim’s losses. In most cases, the settlement amount specifies what exactly the payout covers. For example, the settlement amount may specify that the payments are for medical benefits or lost wages. Although, Florida’s laws allow double recovery, there are restrictions when there is a duplication of benefits.

Under Florida Statutes section 627.727, uninsured motorist benefits cannot duplicate benefits available to an insured motorist. When this occurs, the UIM insurance company possesses the burden of establishing the duplication of benefits. In most cases, Florida accident claims involve personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payment coverage (MPC). Except in instances where PIP or MPC are unresolved, these benefits may be set-off against a UIM payment. However, it is essential to note that although UIM benefits may be set off against disability payments, set-off does not apply to Medicare benefits.

In this case, the court ultimately concluded that the damages award was appropriate, but any payments the plaintiff’ received should be set off against the jury’s verdict.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?

If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries in a Florida car accident, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The Miami personal injury attorneys at our law firm have dedicated their practice to advocating on behalf of injury victims in their claims for damages. We have successfully obtained compensation on behalf of Floridians for injuries they suffered because of a defective product, in car and truck accidents, in slip and falls, as well as in other types of claims. Our attorneys possess the skills, resources, and trial experience that these complicated cases require. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with a Florida injury attorney at our law firm.

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