Under Florida law, auto insurance companies must act in “good faith” when handling claims from people they insure. The term “good faith” is used in many areas of law to refer to honesty and a sincere intention to deal fairly with others. In the context of an insurance company, good faith would refer to the insurance company assessing the damage fairly and offering an adequate payout. An example of bad faith would be an insurance company defrauding the insured party. If an insurance company fails to act in good faith, the insured party can typically file a lawsuit alleging bad faith.
In Rodriguez v. Integon, Mr. Rodriguez was injured in a car accident when he got into a wreck with another vehicle. The other vehicle was owned by another couple who was insured by Integon. Mr. Rodriguez later received a letter from Integon offering a settlement in the amount of $100,000 to “Anthony Rodriguez,” which was not the correct name. The correct name was Alexander Rodríguez. In exchange for the money, the company asked Rodriguez to sign a release form that would release the couple and Integon from all claims arising from the accident. Mr. Rodriguez declined and later sued the couple and won more than $100,000. Mr. Rodriguez then sued Integon for bad faith.
The District Court dismissed the lawsuit, stating that Mr. Rodriguez had failed to allege with specificity a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court explained that a “bad faith” claim arises when the insurer has breached its duty of good faith, specifically the contractual duty to exercise ordinary care when dealing with claims so the insured is not exposed to excess judgments. In this case, Mr. Rodriguez stated that Integon breached the duty of good faith by offering a settlement to someone else, namely “Anthony Rodriguez,” and failed to settle the case in a timely manner.
Mr. Rodriguez had failed to allege in his complaint, however, that the basis of his “bad faith” claim was due to the wrong name. Thus, Integon assumed the bad faith claim was in reference to the language of the release form it had offered Mr. Rodriguez as part of the settlement agreement. The court also noted that the complaint did not have any information regarding the time frame in which the events took place. Consequently, the Court granted Integon’s motion to dismiss the complaint but allowed an opportunity for Mr. Rodriguez to file an amended action.
In sum, a complaint alleging bad faith against an insurance company must contain specific facts, details, and time frames in order for the court and the defendant to understand the allegations properly.
Insurance companies can be difficult to negotiate with, which is why having an experienced lawyer on your side can make all the difference. Robert Dixon is a highly skilled Miami personal injury lawyer who has years of experience dealing with insurance companies on behalf of his clients. We understand that accidents are stressful enough without having to deal with insurance disputes. This is precisely why we take such pride in handling these issues for our clients. We proudly represent client throughout South Florida. To find out about your options, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878).
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