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Florida Car Accident Plaintiff’s Non-Compliance with Contractual Term Not a Basis for Dismissal Due to Defendant’s Failure to Object

Earlier this month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida car accident lawsuit that illustrates the difficulties some motorists encounter when filing insurance claims after an accident. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a plaintiff’s failure to fulfill a “condition precedent” prior to filing a claim with his own insurance company can be fatal to a plaintiff’s claim. The court concluded that, generally, such a failure will prevent the plaintiff from recovering damages; however, when the insurance company fails to raise the issue in a timely manner, the objection will be considered waived.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff sustained injuries in a Florida car accident. The plaintiff was a passenger in a car that was being operated by her father. The plaintiff claimed that the other driver was at fault, but that driver did not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate the plaintiff for the injuries she sustained.

At the time of the collision, the plaintiff was covered under two insurance policies:  her mother’s policy with Allstate and her father’s policy with Geico. Both policies had underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance. The Geico policy’s limit was $20,000, and the Allstate policy’s limit was $25,000. The Allstate policy contained an “other insurance” clause, stating that the insured must exhaust all other insurance policies available before a claim under the Allstate policy.

The plaintiff chose to file a claim with only her mother’s Allstate policy. In response, Allstate argued that it should only be required to cover the difference between the two policies, or $5,000. The lower court agreed, limiting Allstate’s liability to $5,000, and the plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider.

In the motion to reconsider, the plaintiff argued against the reduction in Allstate’s liability. Allstate then argued for the first time that the plaintiff failed to comply with the requirement that she exhaust all other insurance prior to filing a claim with Allstate. The court again agreed with Allstate and affirmed the reduction in liability. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court concluded that Allstate had waived the right to make the condition-precedent argument by failing to include it in the initial filing and only bringing it up in the motion to reconsider. The court explained that Allstate’s interpretation of the clause was correct and that had Allstate raised the issue in a timely manner, the court would have rendered judgment in Allstate’s favor. However, the court explained that under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.120(c), Allstate was required to specifically raise the condition-precedent defense in the initial pleading.

Are You Dealing with a Difficult Insurance Company?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a Florida car accident and are currently dealing with a difficult insurance company, the dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at Cecere Santana can help. We have decades of experience handling Florida personal injury cases, and we deal with insurance companies on a daily basis. We understand the insurance business and do everything we can to get our clients the compensation they need and deserve. And if your insurance company is unwilling to be fair, we will not hesitate to take your case to trial. Call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney at Cecere Santana today.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Residents Who Engage in Recreational Activities on Another Party’s Land May Do So at Their Own Risk (With a Few Notable Exceptions), Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 9, 2017.

Cecere Santana Can Help with Hurricane Irma Property Insurance Claims, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 12, 2017.

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