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A CREDIT AGAINST A SELF INSURED?

In a recent Florida auto injury case the Second District Court of Appeal issued an opinion regarding the applicability of credits against self-insured policies.

In the case of State Farm v. Siergiej, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1329 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2013), the Plaintiff was involved in an accident with a motorcycle operated by a Lee County Sheriff’s Department Officer. As a result of the accident the Plaintiff sued both the Sherriff’s office and his UM carrier, State Farm. Throughout the course of the litigation the Plaintiff settled with the Sheriff for $50,000 which was less than the $100,000 in self-insured policy limits the Sheriff’s office carried. Instead the Plaintiff went to trial against State Farm.

At the trial the Plaintiff obtained a $211,000 verdict against State Farm. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the Plaintiff for $100,000 which represented the total limit of the State Farm policy. State Farm took the appeal arguing that it should have received a credit for the full amount of the $100,000 in self-insured liability funds (the Sheriff policy).

When analyzing credit’s against damages, Florida Statute 627.727(6) provides for a credit against an insured’s total damages in the amount of the UM liability policy in cases where the UM carrier has given its permission to settle. However, the distinguishing factor in this case is that F.S. 627.727 does not apply to “self-insured’s” and rather only applies to liability insurers. Therefore, State Farm was entitled to a credit for $50,000 (amount of settlement) but there was still a total verdict left over $100,000 entitling the Plaintiff to a $100,000 judgment against State Farm as the UM carrier.

Florida injury and insurance law can be confusing and challenging with plaintiff’s facing challenges and hurdles at every point in the case. If you or a loved one have been involved in a car or motorcycle accident we suggest that you contact an experienced attorney to ensure your rights are protected. We further invite you to contact Robert Sparks Attorneys for a free case evaluation to see if we can help.

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