Insurance Company Made to Pay Sanctions for Driver’s Misrepresentations

Insurance companies fight claims and resist paying out their clients all the time. Dealing with an insurance company can be stressful and cumbersome. In some cases, insurance companies engage in misconduct to get out of paying claims. Robert Dixon is a highly qualified Miami personal injury lawyer who knows that monetary sanctions are only important in cases where there has been official wrongdoing, such as fraud on the court. That is precisely what happened in GEICO v. Rodriguez.

In the case at hand, Florida’s District Court of Appeals held that an auto insurance company for an 83-year-old man who lied about his ability to drive in a deposition testimony after an accident was responsible to pay sanctions for those misrepresentations.

The elderly driver had extremely poor vision and was deemed legally blind by his physicians. The doctors had instructed the man not to drive. The man did not follow this advice. In fact, within one month after receiving a renewal of his auto insurance company, the man caused an accident that struck two pedestrians. The pedestrians sustained serious injuries.

The at-fault driver’s insurance company immediately tendered the full policy amount of $20,000 to the injured parties. This amount, however, did not cover the medical bills for the injured pedestrians. The pedestrians then sued the driver for negligence. Negligence is the failure to take reasonable care in one’s actions or omissions. Reasonable care is defined as the level of caution and care that a prudent person would take in the same or similar circumstances.

During this time, the elderly driver gave sworn testimony that he had no physical deficiencies that would preclude him from being a safe driver. He also stated that his vision was good. During discovery, it was shown that the driver’s testimony was not true. The plaintiffs immediately sought to strike the driver’s pleadings and obtain punitive damages as well as court costs and attorney’s fees.

While this matter was pending, the driver died, and a personal representative took over for the man’s estate. The insurance company claimed that the injured pedestrians were not covered under the insurer’s policy for damages because of the driver’s misrepresentations.

The court entered judgment against the insurance company. Specifically, GEICO had to pay nearly $30,000 in sanctions for the false sworn testimony given by its client regarding his competence to operate a motor vehicle safely. The court held that the insurance company had a duty to act within 30 days of learning of the at-fault driver’s false statements. Instead, the insurance company waited almost a full year to act and inform the pedestrians that it was not responsible to pay the claims due to the driver’s misrepresentations. This violated state law.

If you or someone close to you has been injured in a pedestrian accident, it is important for you to seek the help of a qualified Miami pedestrian accident attorney. We have helped numerous clients throughout South Florida. We provide free and confidential initial consultations to all our clients. We know this is a stressful time for you and our family, which is why we are here to answer your questions and address any of your concerns. Contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

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Phantom Vehicles in Florida Injury Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 2, 2014

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