Insurance Companies May Have to Pay for Delays

In a recent Appellate decision from Florida's 5th District Court of Appeal, the court held that an auto insurer’s delay of nine (9) months from the date of the accident before paying a property damage claim was unreasonable under the circumstances. Barreau v. Peachtree Casualty Insurance Company, 79 So.3d 843 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). As a result of the insurance companies conduct the insured was entitled to attorneys fees under Florida Statute 627.428.

Under Florida Statute 627.428, policyholders are entitled to attorneys fees when they prevail in their claims against their insurance companies for coverage.

The statute provides:

Upon the rendition of a judgment or decree by any of the courts of this state against an insurer and in favor of any named or omnibus insured or the named beneficiary under a policy or contract executed by the insurer, the trial court or, in the event of an appeal in which the insured or beneficiary prevails, the appellate court shall adjudge or decree against the insurer and in favor of the insured or beneficiary a reasonable sum as fees or compensation for the insured’s or beneficiary’s attorney prosecuting the suit in which the recovery is had.

In the Barreau case, the insurance company’s delay was a nine month delay which was allegedly due to the investigation of suspected fraud. Often times, victims of car accidents face an array of obstacles in receiving payment for their damages. One of the most frustrating obstacles for an injured driver is facing delays from the defendant’s insurance company or even worse their own insurance company. In order to overcome these obstacles it is highly recommend that victims of accidents contact a Tampa personal injury attorney.