What Court Is the Proper Venue to File a Lawsuit Against My Insurance Company?

If your home is severely damaged by a fire, windstorm or other peril, your homeowner’s policy may provide necessary funds to repair your home, replace personal property and compensate homeowners for other forms of loss.  Sometimes an experienced Florida insurance claims lawyer can negotiate with your insurer to resolve claims disputes and obtain the full value of your claim.  In other situations, a lawsuit for breach of contract or insurance bad faith must be filed because the insurer refuses to reach a fair settlement based on the facts and law. 

When filing a lawsuit against your insurance company to compel payment of the benefits promised by your policy, there are many legal and strategic issues that must be considered.  One important issue involves determining the proper court in which to file your lawsuit.  While you might have the right to file suit in several different courts, court rules, the propensity of judges and the mix of the jury pool can make it worthwhile to exercise caution in choosing which court should hear your case. 

While this practice is sometimes referred to derisively as “forum shopping,” this is a normal strategic consideration that is weighed by all parties filing a civil lawsuit.  While there might be multiple courts where a lawsuit can be filed, a defendant can file a motion for change of venue based on considerations like the convenience of witnesses and justice.  Although the specific venue statute in your jurisdiction will determine the standard for moving a case to another venue, most venue statutes focus on fairly similar factors.

A recent decision by the Colorado Supreme Court provides an example of the analysis used by courts considering a change in venue in a lawsuit against an insurance company.  When the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in Boulder County, the insurance carrier filed a motion for change of venue.  The insurer claimed that none of the witnesses involved in the lawsuit resided in the county, so the trial court granted the motion for change of venue.  On appeal to the state’s highest court ruled that an affidavit indicating that venue is also proper in another county because of the location of the plaintiffs and witnesses was not sufficient grounds for a change of venue. 

The insurance company was not a resident of Colorado, so the insured was allowed to file its lawsuit in Boulder County.  The court reasoned that to change venue the insurer had to establish “through affidavit or evidence, the identity of the witnesses, the nature, materiality and admissibility of their testimony, and how the witnesses would be better accommodated by the requested change of venue.”

The court noted that neither conclusions unsupported by facts or attorney affidavits were sufficient to meet this standard.  The proper choice of court is just one of many issues that our experienced insurance claims law firm investigates to pursue the full value of your claim.  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 1-305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM today.

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