You pay your insurance company for peace of mind, assuming that any accidents covered under your policy will be paid for by them in full. However, sometimes an insurer refuses to pay a claim unreasonably. Or fails to conduct an appropriate investigation. Or unreasonably delays investigation.
When these things happen, it is possible that your insurer may be acting in bad faith. That’s the bad news. The good news is that bad faith is illegal, and you may be able to hold your insurer liable for damages.
Under Florida law, policyholders have to go through the regular process before doing this, including waiting until the insurance company conducts an appraisal. In bad faith claims involving unreasonable delays in investigation, this has made filing suit very difficult for policyholders, often forcing them to live with unrepaired damages for months – or even years.
However, a recent case may signal that things are changing. Florida courts just ruled that a policyholder did not need to wait until an appraisal had been conducted to seek damages. This sets a new legal precedent, and may allow other Floridians to receive bad faith damages prior to the appraisal.
Let’s take a look at the case in question, as well as how this may change bad faith insurance law — and how you, the policyholder, could benefit.
Philip Landers v. State Farm Florida
In 2009, Florida resident Philip Landers sustained suspected sinkhole damage to his home and filed a claim with his insurer, State Farm Florida Insurance Co. The insurance company made initial repairs, but Landers hired an independent evaluator who advised that the repairs were insufficient.
After a protracted legal battle, Landers ultimately sued State Farm in 2014 for acting in bad faith, stating that the company had delayed paying policy limits until after appraisal. The court initially ruled in favor of State Farm, but Landers appealed to the Fifth District Court of Appeal.
The appeal court reversed this ruling, finding that the purpose of a civil remedies notice (CRN) is to encourage good-faith efforts to settle claims in a timely manner prior to litigation, not to vindicate further efforts to delay. Further, the court found that filing a CRN prior to appraisal did not make the CRN null and void, and that nullifying the CRN perturbs the purpose of the statute by further delaying the time necessary to assess and pay out claims.
Previous Policy and Why the Landers Case Matters
Here’s why the Landers case matters. Quite simply, it could pave the way to a more streamlined bad faith process. Previously, insurance companies were allowed to request an appraisal in the event of a bad faith suit and/or CRN, delaying any further action until the appraisal had been performed, and nullifying CRNs.
Because many bad faith insurance suits involve delays in investigation and repairs, this policy often frustrated the efforts of policyholders trying to seek justice. However, the Landers case sets a new precedent, allowing policyholders to file CRNs and bad faith insurance suits and seek damages prior to the insurer conducting an appraisal.
If You Have Suffered from Bad Faith Insurance
If you believe that your insurance company has acted in bad faith by failing to pay out claims for covered events or unreasonably delaying investigations, you may have a case for bad faith insurance.
You have likely paid your premium for many years under the assumption that your insurer would do right by you in the event of an accident. If your insurer fails to follow through or delays investigations, this can have devastating consequences for your finances and quality of life.
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
July 4th tends to evoke backyard barbecues, poolside cocktails, and fireworks at dusk. We usually think of spending this holiday with family, and staying close to home. On the contrary, AAA pegs the fourth as one of their busiest days. Did you know the average distance traveled on July 4th is 617 miles? What’s more, [..]
When most of us think about Fourth of July safety, we think about fireworks. Although improper use of fireworks can cause serious injuries, there’s a less obvious risk: food poisoning. Most Fourth of July celebrations involve outdoor gatherings, with perishable food that’s often brought in by a number of people, some of whom may not [..]
Summer is upon us, and it’s peak swimming pool season in the sunshine state. Although swimming is a great way to cool off and get some exercise, it can also be dangerous. Statistics show three children die every day from swimming pool accidents, and many more people sustain serious injuries. In many cases, these tragic [..]
Memorial Day offers a time to celebrate loved ones lost. It also signals the beginning of another Florida summer which often means road trip! In either case, we all find a reason and a way to cut loose. Unfortunately, these celebrations also lead to an uptick in car accidents. The primary causes? More cars on [..]
Johnson & Johnson has been a trusted name in cosmetics and household products for decades. However, in recent years, they have come under fire for lawsuits that suggest their talcum powder products caused cancer. The company isn’t just paying with a blow to their reputation, either. Earlier this year, a woman in California won $29 [..]
Every summer, Floridians look forward to that much needed break that summer camp provides: the kids to get away from the daily grind of the school year, and you to get a little breathing room from them. Exactly how much of a break would it be, though, if you’re still holding your breath in anticipation [..]
Temperatures are rising and a lot of long weekends are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to hop in your boat for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or other summer holidays, it’s important to stay safe this season. Boating accidents do happen here in Florida, and many can be fatal. In 2017, 658 [..]
In the height of prom season, across the country, local police and first responders work with surrounding schools, survivors, and other drunk driving prevention organizations to reenact realistic reminders of why teens in their communities shouldn’t drink and drive. One survivor in Illinois recounted his experience of being ejected through a car window after plowing [..]
Cycling is not only a convenient and healthy way to get around in Florida, but it’s widely accepted as an effective means of reducing congestion on the road and improving the quality of our environment. However, the relationship between drivers and cyclists in Florida has always been tinged with antagonism. Motorists often complain that cyclists [..]
We live in an animal-loving society. Most of us interact with pets on a daily basis (ours or others), and they are an important part of many people’s lives. However, it is vital to remember that all animals are, at their core, wild, and sometimes things go wrong. What happens when an animal bites someone? [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
Florida’s summer is well underway, and the hot weather is a perfect excuse to get out on the water. With close to 900,000 registered vessels in the state, chances are that you or someone you know owns a boat and is planning to use it this season. Getting out on a lake or the ocean [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]