Florida Supreme Court Rules Against Large Insurance Company
On July 13, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court reviewed a decision from the First District Court of Appeals in Government Employees Insurance Co. v. Macedo, 190 So. 3d 1155 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016). Attorneys Angela Rodante, Dale Swope, Stephanie Miles, and Darrell Hinson fought the case all the way up to the Court, who ruled for our client, the consumer.
Imagine you’ve been in a wreck that is probably your fault, and the other person is hurt. You feel terrible for them, but at least you feel like you are in good hands, legally, because you have bought insurance from one of the largest corporations in the world. They promised to be on your side, and to treat you like a good neighbor if this ever happened, because it’s what they do.
You read the insurance policy and it tells you that you are prohibited from making offers to settle or otherwise getting involved in the claims process. You are supposed to just trust the insurance company you hired for this purpose and so you do. They appoint one of their lawyers/employees to be your lawyer and you sit back to relax, relying on this team of claims professionals that you have paid for, through your premium dollars.
At trial, the verdict is for more than your insurance limit, which means you will now have to pay out of your pocket. Then you find out that during the case, the injured person offered to settle for less than your insurance limit, and the insurance company said no – putting your assets at risk.
Here is where it gets especially infuriating. You learn that the hurt person served a formal proposal to settle the case and since the verdict is more than 25% higher than the offer, under the law you now have to pay the attorneys’ fee of the other side. This is over a hundred thousand dollars!
You turn to your insurance company and say—Hey, you made the decision not to settle, not me. I had no say so in that matter, according to the terms of the policy. Now your risky decision has backfired, and now you want ME to pay for it?
“This is a victory for millions of insured Floridians who take to the road every day. Insurers cannot include ambiguous language in their contracts and use it to avoid coverage,” says Partner Dale Swope. “When insurers use terms such as ‘legal expenses’ in conjunction with ‘court costs’ and ‘all reasonable costs’ without actually defining them in the policy of course the policy should be construed to provide coverage for the costs and attorney’s fees awarded.”
Unfortunately most people don’t know about situations like this until it happens to them, when it does our attorneys are ready to help. Read details of this case here.