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Federal Court Permits Untimely Expert Testimony in Florida Case Involving Bad Faith

cars 4After an accident, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a difficult insurance company. Florida’s bad faith law allows an individual to sue their insurer if they believe that the insurer engaged in fraud or “bad faith” activities when defending or settling a claim that resulted in additional damages or legal costs for the insured. These types of cases can be extremely complex, which is why it is imperative to seek the help of a qualified Miami injury attorney who is well-versed in this area of the law.

In Hayas v. GEICO General Insurance Co., a man named Hayas was involved in an automobile accident that caused the death of another person. When the accident took place, Hayas had liability insurance through GEICO General Insurance Co. and had a policy for up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per incident.

After the wreck, the deceased individual’s estate filed a negligence lawsuit against Hayas, the at-fault driver, as well as his insurance company. While there was a chance for settlement, the insurance company supposedly refused to settle the matter. After a jury trial, the deceased individual’s estate secured a judgment in state court for the amount of $1.6 million against Hayas.

Subsequently, Hayas brought a bad faith claim against the insurance company, alleging that GEICO had an opportunity to settle the claim but did not do so. Specifically, he alleged 18 bad-faith actions related to the insurer’s failure to settle the claim. Additionally, he provided the court with a supplemental expert disclosure to support his position.

GEICO replied by filing a motion to strike and requesting that the court forbid the driver’s potential expert witness from providing any opinion testimony or evidence in the case. The insurer stated that the supplemental expert disclosure was untimely because the court had required they be filed at an earlier date than Hayas actually filed.

The court stated that it has broad discretion to admit or deny evidence. While the judge agreed with the insurance company that Hayas had filed the disclosure in an untimely manner, the untimeliness did not ultimately prejudice the insurance company in any way because GEICO had prior notice that Hayas was planning to use this particular expert witness. Since this was not a case of “surprise witness revealed on the eve of a trial to gain an unfair advantage,” the expert witness did not need to be struck from the case. As far as the content of the expert witness’ testimony is concerned, the court noted that it could be challenged during trial.

Additionally, the Court rejected GEICO’s claim that dismissal was warranted due to the fact that Hayas had not identified a specific offer to settle that GEICO failed to accept.

If you or someone close to you has been hurt, it is important to consult a qualified Miami personal injury attorney who can assess the merits of your case and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Insurance issues, especially concerning bad faith, can be difficult to prove, and having the right lawyer on your side can make all the difference. For more information, you can contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Injuries must be Compensable in Florida Negligence Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 23, 2015

Insurance Coverage Issues in Florida Child Drowning Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 23, 2015

Insurance Company Made to Pay Sanctions for Driver’s Misrepresentations, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 23, 2015