How Does Insurance Litigation Differ from Other Types of Litigation in Florida?

While consumers can file a lawsuit against an insurance company that fails to perform its duties under a policy, insurance litigation typically is not something that can be successfully pursued without an experienced Florida insurance claims attorney.  Parties pursuing any type of civil lawsuit against a business are unlikely to prevail without an attorney in a breach of contract or bad faith claim if the other side is represented.  The complex rules, procedures and legal standards make it virtually impossible to have success in a civil lawsuit without legal representation.  These challenges increase significantly in a lawsuit for breach of contract or bad faith against an insurance company because additional requirements and pitfalls must be successfully navigated.

The Florida Legislature enacted Civil Remedy Statute 624.155 approximately three decades ago.  The statute, which has been amended several times since its enactment, imposes requirements on policyholders who elect to sue their insurance company for bad faith.  Whether you are filing a lawsuit against your insurer for bad faith failure to pay for property damage to your home, a bad faith denial of a duty to defend or refusal to indemnity you, you will need to comply with the requirements of the Civil Remedy Statute.

The statute imposes legal obligations before a policyholder can even file a lawsuit against an insurer for bad faith.  The insured must furnish notice to both the insurance carrier and the Florida Department of Financial Services prior to filing a complaint to initiate a lawsuit for bad faith.  After notice has been provided, a policyholder cannot file a complaint until at least sixty days have elapsed.  The function of the notice is to inform the insurer that the policyholder is alleging that the insurer either breached its contractual obligations in bad faith or violated applicable state or federal law.  While the Department of Financial Services will not participate in the litigation, the agency reviews the notice to ensure that the insured has provided sufficient detail of the alleged improper actions by the insurance company and the nature of the loss experienced by the insured.

These special procedural requirements and deadlines can become extremely confusing because they are independent of duties placed on plaintiffs in all civil cases.  For example, a homeowner who sues his or her homeowners insurance carrier generally must file a complaint within five years of the date of loss.  The insurance policy also will impose timing requirements for performing certain tasks that may be a necessary condition to pursuing a lawsuit.  These requirements generally involve notifying your insurer within a certain time period and submitting a sworn proof of loss.

Similarly, lawsuits against public entities will require notice to the public entity within a period of time that is much shorter than the statute of limitations.  This situation might apply when conditions on public property cause damage to your property during a storm, such as a tree limb falling on your roof after breaking off from a tree in a city park.  If you are pursuing litigation against a public entity, you might have to navigate several levels of special deadlines and requirements.  The bottom line is that the complexity and abundance of these procedural rules and deadlines makes it imperative to retain legal advice early before you make a critical mistake that damages your claim.

If you have questions about Miami-Dade homeowners insurance claims, you are welcome to contact my Florida insurance claims dispute law firm.  My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida.  The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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