Florida Bad Faith Insurance Claims Based on Ambiguous Terms

After a Florida accident, most injury victims try and recoup some or all of their damages from their car or home insurance provider. Although consumers expect their insurance company to resolve their claims in good faith, many claimants find themselves in dire financial straits when their company fails to resolve their claims fairly or promptly. Under Florida law, insurance companies must “act fairly and honestly towards its insured” with regard to the policyholder’s interests. Despite the law, insurance companies frequently act with the company’s financial interest in mind, even if it is contrary to the insured’s interest. If a policyholder believes that an insurance company is acting in bad faith in resolving their claims, they may file a lawsuit to demand relief.

Bad faith occurs when an insurance company acts unreasonably towards a policyholder, or otherwise breaches their fiduciary duty to an insured. Determining whether an insurance company acted in bad faith involves evaluating the length the company went to and its efforts in resolving claims in favor of the insured. Insurance companies should take prompt measures to investigate a claim thoroughly, evaluate liability, assess damages, communicate findings with appropriate parties, and settle claims. However, Florida insurers may face bad faith claims if they fail to engage in these steps or if their policies are inherently ambiguous.

Typically, disputes regarding insurance contracts follow the rules generally accepted under contract law. When there is a material, ambiguous term in the contract, the court will construe the term against the company and in favor of the insured. The contracts are viewed as a whole, and if the language is clear, the court will interpret the terms according to their generally accepted plain meaning. To avoid these issues, Florida lawmakers stress the importance of carefully drafted insurance policies that consumers can understand. Although current trends in the law favor insureds, in some cases, courts will find in favor of an insurance provider, despite claims of ambiguous terms.

For example, an appellate court issued an opinion in a claimant’s lawsuit against an insurance company. In that case, the plaintiff was backing up a truck to an auger used to move grain to a transport truck. While attempting to open the gate, the plaintiff stepped on the auger; however, the auger’s protective shield was removed. As he stepped onto the auger, a turning shaft sliced into his leg, causing the plaintiff to lose his leg below the knee. The plaintiff settled a claim with the truck’s owner and other insurers; however, he sought additional coverage under the policy that covered the truck. The truck’s insurer denied coverage, arguing that the auger fell under the policy’s exclusion term. The exclusion provided that the company would not cover damages resulting from the movement of a “mechanical device”, that is not attached to the vehicle. The plaintiff argued that the term was ambiguous; however, the appellate court found that the exclusion was unambiguous.

Has Your Florida Insurance Company Acted in Bad Faith?

If you suffered injuries in a Florida car accident and face challenges recovering damages, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling claims arising from personal injury accidents, premises liability, and defective products. We have successfully represented countless clients in their claims against insurance companies and at-fault parties, helping our clients obtain the compensation they need to move on with their lives. Contact our office at 877-499-4878, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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