Florida Legal Topics

DeBary Legal News - Insurance

The Law Office of Paul Bernardini

Insurance - Personal Injury Protection

Extended PIP provision of policy was ambiguous as to whether insurer's liability for extended PIP benefits was limited to $10,000 or whether insurer was required to pay all insured's medical expenses without limitation. Because ambiguity must be construed against insurer as drafter of policy, trial court erred in entering summary judgment for insurer in insured's declaratory judgment action, finding that extended PIP coverage only allows for recovery of medical expenses until $10,000 limit is reached. Spaid v. Integon Indemnity Corp., 39 Fla. L. Weekly D1299 (1st DCA opinion filed June 18, 2014.)

Dog Bites - Insurance Claim - One Occurrence or Two Occurrences?

Homeowner's dog attacks two guests.

In Maddox v. Florida Farm Bureau, 39 FLW D162, the insurance policy provided $100,000 limits for each occurrence. Two people were attacked by a dog almost at the same time. The insurance company argued that the attacks were simply one occurrence since the attacks occurred in the same room at about the same time. The Fifth District Court of Appeal held that there were two separate occurrence and therefore, $100,000 in coverage applied to two separate occurrences for a total of $200,000 instead of $100,000.

Liability Insurance - Automobile

A leased golf cart that has been modified to exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour may sometimes fall within the statutory definition of a low speed vehicle and as such, can be insured pursuant to the Florida Financial Responsibility Law. Angelotta v. Security National Insurance, Fifth District Court of Appeal, July 5, 2013, 38 FLW D1477.

Attorney's fees awarded from Florida Insurance Guarantee Association

Another case involving attorney's fees was decided in favor of the claimant. The claimant was allowed to receive his attorney's fees from the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association. This is pretty rare. Although insurance companies are generally responsible for the attorney's fees of the successful party that sues them, the Florida Insurance Guarantee Association is usually immune from that rule. However, in Rahabi v. Florida Insurance Guarantee Association, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2259, decided by Fourth District, the Court of Appeals held that the fact that the FIGA denied that the insured’' damages were caused by a covered loss in their answer and set forth other equivalent defenses allowed the claimant to obtain the insurance fees against the defendant.

Insurance & municipal liability

An interesting case concerning the non-joinder of insurance companies and the limitations of municipal liability is State National Insurance Company v. Robert, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2257. This case dealt with a motor vehicle accident against the City of Hollywood. Florida law set forth in Florida Statute 768.285(5), Florida Statutes (2006), provides that cities and other government entities immunity is waived up to $200,000.00 absent a special claims bill from the Florida legislature. This case deals with the interplay of that immunity and the law on the joinder of the city's insurance company pursuant to Florida Statute 627.4136(1)(4) (2006). Generally, it is very important to know this. No matter what you see on television or hear on the radio, a city, county, hospital or any governmental entity cannot be liable for more than $200,000.00 to any person absent a special law passed by the Florida legislature.

Compulsory medical examination by insurance companies; Nursing home cases

A good case when you have a compulsory medical examination by the insurance company in Cascanet v. Allen, 36 FL W D 1776A ( 51h DCA Fla.). In that case, the insurance company doctor examined the plaintiff. The Court held that the insurance company doctor must list all major conclusions of the examining expert. The doctor indicated that the plaintiff was injured and that the pain was likely caused by the accident. Later, the doctor wanted to say that many studies indicated that the injury would heal itself and the Fifth District Court of Appeals said that the doctor was not allowed to do that unless he listed such a conclusion in his examining report.