One tactic consistently used by defense attorneys on behalf of insurance companies is to complicate matters, relying on complexity, confusion and ambiguity to successfully defend against claims by policyholders. The purpose of confusing the questions is to prevent the judge and jury from considering the insurer's behavior and instead focus on the ambiguous language of the policy and Florida statutory law.
So, what is the best way to defeat this inevitable strategy? Rick Friedman and Patrick Malone provide the step-by-step approach in their trial guide, Rules of the Road: A Plaintiff Lawyer & # 39 ;s Guide to Proving Liability . 1 Specifically, the book offers a framework for the policyholder's lawyers to refer to in each critical step of the claim. This framework consists of a list of rules that form the basis for building the case against the insurer. In particular, Friedman and Malone provide a list of principles that apply almost universally to all policyholders' property insurance claims. These principles are as follows:
- Must treat the interests of its policyholders with equal consideration as it does its own interests. This is not a controversial or competitive process.
- The insurance company should assist the policyholder with the claim for damages.
- The insurance company must disclose all insurance benefits, coverage and deadlines that may apply to the claim.
- The insurance company must carry out a complete, fair and rapid investigation of the claim at its own expense.
- The insurance company must fully, fairly and immediately evaluate and adjust the claim.
- The company must pay all amounts that are not disputed within 30 days.
- The Company may not deny a claim or part of a claim based on insufficient information, speculation or biased information.
- If complete or partial denial must provide a written explanation pointing to facts and policy provisions.
- The company must not give unreasonably low deals.
- The company must provide the tortfeasor with a written update of the tort status every 30 days, including a description n of what is needed to complete the claim. 2
These "road rules" are examples of basic principles that can help limit the issues for policyholder attorneys to be used during each critical step. Not only does the book provide valuable advice on how to formulate a personal list of rules, but it also provides real-life examples of how their road rules have been used successfully. For those who are interested in learning how to effectively organize and focus their claims on insurance companies, Road of a must-read.
1 Friedman, Rick and Patrick Malone. Rules of the Road: a Plaintiff Lawyer & # 39; s Guide to Proving Liability, 2nd ed. . Test Guides, 2010.
2 Id. Vid 195.