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Insurance Company Liable for Florida Insured’s Attorney’s Fees

carIf you have been injured in an automobile accident in Florida, you will probably need to deal with your insurance company at some point. This can be a confusing and sometimes daunting process, which is why it is imperative to have a skilled Miami injury attorney on your side. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, we can meticulously analyze the facts of your case, determine a legal strategy suited to your situation, and inform you of all your legal rights and options. With years of experience, we know how to handle personal injury claims, including advising our clients on all matters related to insurance companies.

In Government Employees Insurance Company v. Macedo, the plaintiff made a $50,000 settlement proposal in accordance with Florida Statute §768.79. The Government Employees Insurance Company (GEICO) rejected the proposal on behalf of its insured client. The jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, awarding more than four times the amount requested in the original proposal. GEICO appealed the final judgment, which required it to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees and costs.

In Florida, many lawyers use the “Proposal for Settlement” (PFS), a document submitted by one party to the opposing party that outlines the amount of money the serving party wants in order to finalize a settlement. Rule 1.442 lists a number of requirements that must be met for the PFS. Florida Statute §768.79 should be read in conjunction with Rule 1.442. Under §768.79, if a judgment obtained by a plaintiff is at least 25 percent more than the amount of the PFS served to the defendant, the plaintiff may move the court for attorney’s fees and costs. In the case at hand, the court had to decide whether GEICO could be liable for the attorney’s fees and costs, since it was not the defendant or a party to the lawsuit. Instead, GEICO was only involved because it was defending its insured.

The First District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court’s ruling that the insurance company could be jointly and severally liable with its insured for the plaintiff’s fees and costs. Specifically, the court cited a decision in a prior case in which the court found that the insurer’s policy provision holding that it would cover “other reasonable expenses incurred or requests” including expenses involved the choice of litigating a case versus settling it.

As in that prior case, the plaintiff in this case had the sole right to litigate and settle claims under GEICO’s insurance policy. Furthermore, the contract required GEICO to pay for all the costs associated with investigations and litigation, as well as “other reasonable costs” incurred by the insured at GEICO’s request. The court explained that GEICO could have chosen to settle the claim, but instead it made the decision to litigate, and without a provision in the contract that specifically excluded the payment of fees and costs on behalf of the insured, GEICO was jointly and severally liable for the fees and costs of the plaintiff.

Whether you have been injured in a car crash, a slip and fall, or another accident, settlements are a common way to resolve the issue. In fact, most cases never make it to trial. Instead, they are typically settled out of court. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our Miami car accident attorneys can help you determine the best course of action in your case. To discuss your case in more detail, do not hesitate to call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or reach out to us online today.

More Blog Posts:

Subrogation in Florida Personal Injury Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 22, 2016

Property Owner May Owe Duty of Care for Landscaped Areas in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 22, 2016

Roundabout Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, June 22, 2016