Florida drivers are required to carry certain levels of auto insurance in order to legally drive on public roads. The idea behind this requirement is that when an accident happens, and the person who causes the accident is not able to financially cover the costs incurred by the victim, the insurance company will cover the accident victim’s costs. However, insurance companies are not always willing to cover all the costs associated with an accident, or they may deny a claim altogether. When this is the case, the accident victim is permitted to file a lawsuit against the insurance company, asking the court to require the insurance company to hold up its end of the bargain.
In a recent case, Etherton v. Owners Insurance Company, an appellate court upheld a $2.25 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff after his attempted negotiations with his own insurance company were fruitless. The award consisted of the requested amount of $750,000 for the plaintiff’s injuries, as well as $1.5 million for the insurance company’s failure to settle the claim in a timely manner.
The Facts of the Case
Etherton was involved in an accident with another motorist, who happened to have very low limits on his insurance policy. Etherton settled with the other motorist’s insurance company for $250,000, but since he sustained serious injuries that required three surgeries, he sought additional compensation through his own insurance company under the underinsured motorist provision of his insurance contract.
After months of back-and-forth with the insurance company, the company offered to settle the claim for $150,000, which was $600,000 less than he was asking to receive. The insurance company explained that it had doubts about whether the plaintiff’s injuries were actually caused by the accident. The plaintiff tried for several more months to work out a deal that was satisfactory to both sides but was unable to do so. He eventually filed a lawsuit against the insurance company, asking the court to require the insurance company to compensate him for his injuries. As an additional claim, he asked for a separate amount of damages based on the company’s failure to pay out on his meritorious claim in a timely manner.
The jury ended up agreeing with the plaintiff and awarded him a total of $2.25 million. The insurance company appealed but lost the appeal and is now stuck paying out the total amount to the plaintiff.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of South Florida motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through either your own or the other driver’s insurance company. However, dealing with insurance companies can be extremely frustrating and is best left to experienced attorneys. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Cohn & Smith have decades of combined experience fighting for their clients’ rights against reluctant insurance companies. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation.
Related Blog Posts:
How the “Continuing Course of Treatment” Doctrine May Help Medical Malpractice Plaintiffs, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, July 13, 2016.
Slip-and-Fall Case Arising From City Sidewalk Allowed to Proceed Despite City’s Claim of Immunity, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, August 4, 2016.