Driver’s Bad-Faith Claim Against Insurance Company Allowed to Proceed over Objection

Earlier this month, a Florida appellate court issued a written opinion in a case brought by a motorist against his own insurance company, after he was involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist. In the case, Fridman v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois, the plaintiff was injured after being struck by an uninsured motorist, and he sought compensation within the $50,000 policy limit of his insurance policy with the defendant. However, the defendant denied his claim. Ultimately, a jury awarded the driver $1,000,000 based on the insurance company’s bad-faith denial of the claim, and the court upheld that verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a 2007 motor vehicle accident. Since the other driver was uninsured, the plaintiff filed a claim with his own insurance company for $50,000. The insurance company denied his request. He then filed a lawsuit against the insurance company, alleging bad faith in failing to settle his claim and seeking the full amount of compensation for his injuries, which “shall include the total amount of the claimant’s damages, including the amount in excess of the policy limits.”

The insurance company then cut the plaintiff a check for $50,000, the limit of his policy. The plaintiff refused the check as an offer to settle the case and opted to allow a jury to determine what his compensation should be. The jury ultimately determined that the plaintiff was entitled to $1,000,000 in compensation for his injuries, as well as for the bad faith of the insurance company. The insurance company filed an appeal, asking the court to consider the $50,000 check a final settlement that preempted the plaintiff’s case at trial.

On Appeal

On the initial appeal, the court ruled in favor of the insurance company and reinstated the $50,000 award. Not satisfied with the result, the plaintiff then appealed to the state’s highest court.

In a complex legal ruling, the appellate court determined that the plaintiff was entitled to have a jury determine the value of his claim, even if the bad-faith claim was not yet decided. The court was concerned that the intermediate court’s ruling would permit insurance companies to game the system, forcing accident victims to expend massive amounts of resources preparing for a trial that in the end would be unnecessary. The court determined that the jury’s verdict should stand and that it was binding against the insurance company. Since the insurance company presented other issues on appeal that were not ruled upon by the intermediate court, the high court remanded the case back to the intermediate court to consider each of the company’s arguments. Depending on the ruling of the intermediate court on those issues, the plaintiff may be able to keep the $1,000,000 jury verdict.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Even if the other driver involved in the accident was uninsured or underinsured, your own insurance company may be liable for the damages you incurred. However, as noted above, insurance companies are often reluctant to pay out fair amounts unless ordered to do so. To speak with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney about your case, call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Keeps Out Plaintiff’s Expert Testimony in Birth Injury Case against Car Manufacturer, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published March 2, 2016.

Accident Victim’s Signed Release Encompasses At-Fault Driver and Subsequent Allegedly Negligent Physician, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published February 16, 2016.

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