Florida Court Refuses to Consider Insurance Company’s Argument Raised for the First Time in a Post-Trial Motion

As a general rule, litigants in Florida car accident cases must raise any issues they have with the trial court’s decisions at the moment a decision is made. Similarly, when responding to a claim or allegation, a party should be sure to make all relevant arguments at that time. Otherwise, a court may consider the argument waived.

The purpose of the waiver rule is to encourage efficient resolution of cases. If, for example, a party were able to raise any issue at any time, courts would find themselves dealing with a never-ending series of motions and requests as the parties came up with new versions of old arguments. Instead, Florida court rules require that parties bring everything they have upfront so that the judge can make one informed decision that will not need to be revisited, absent a legal error. A recent Florida personal injury case illustrates this concept.

The Facts

The plaintiff was injured when another motorist struck her vehicle. The other motorist did not have sufficient insurance coverage to fully compensate the plaintiff for the injuries she sustained. The plaintiff, however, was covered under two other insurance policies:  an Allstate policy in her mother’s name and a Geico policy in her father’s name. The Allstate policy provided $5,000 more in coverage than the Geico policy.

The plaintiff could have filed a claim with each insurance company. However, she only filed a claim with Allstate. In response, Allstate only offered the plaintiff the $5,000 difference between the two policies. The court agreed with Allstate, limiting its liability to a maximum of $5,000. Believing that the court got it wrong, the plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider and presented further argument on the issue.

During the argument for the motion to reconsider, Allstate pointed to a clause in the Allstate insurance contract stating that the plaintiff was required to exhaust all other available insurance policies before making a claim with Allstate. The court agreed and affirmed its prior ruling. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The court held that Allstate was precluded from making an argument about the contractual clause because the proper time to have raised the argument was in direct response to the plaintiff’s claim. Instead, Allstate waited until the motion to reconsider. As a result, the court concluded that Allstate had waived the argument. Furthermore, the court held that Allstate was not entitled to a reduction in liability under state law. As a result, the plaintiff will be permitted to recover up to the policy maximum of the Allstate policy.

Are You Dealing with a Difficult Insurance Company?

If you have recently been involved in a Florida auto accident and are currently dealing with a difficult insurance company, the dedicated Florida personal injury lawyers at Frankl Kominsky can help. We represent Florida accident victims in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, truck accidents, slip-and-fall cases, and medical malpractice cases. Call 855-800-8000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case today.

See Additional Blog Posts:

Motorcycle Accidents, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, October 5, 2017.

Child Injury Accidents, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, October 23, 2017.

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