There are many times when an insurance company takes actions that violate the terms of an insurance policy and the homeowners are forced to pursue legal remedies. One of these cases involved damage to the home caused by a sinkhole and disputes over what remedial actions were necessary to stabilize the land under the home. When the homeowners were not able to come to an agreement with the insurer, they filed suit. The insurance company filed actions for summary judgment, arguing that the loss-payment provision of the policy precluded suit because payment was not due at the time the legal action was commenced. The insurer also argued that the stay provision of the neutral evaluation statute prevented the homeowner from filing a legal action when they did. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insured on these two issues. However, the Second District Court now has reversed the lower court’s determination.
There are many reasons to contact a skilled homeowners’ insurance attorney, but claim denials or limitations on the amount of payment being offered are the most common reasons for a person to seek legal advice. The skilled Miami homeowners’ insurance attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have more than 130 years of collective experience representing homeowners’ interests against insurance companies. We ensure that we remain on top of new legal developments in order to provide the best possible representation to our clients.
In the case of Curtis v. Tower Hill Prime Ins. Co., 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 398 (2015), the Second District Court overturned a lower court decision granting two of Tower Hill’s motions for summary judgment. The case arose out of a claim for damage to a home caused by a sinkhole. The initial claim was deemed to be covered under the insurance policy, but there was a dispute about the cost to repair the home and stabilize the land based on competing estimates from the insurance company and the homeowners. Once the conflict became an issue, Tower Hill demanded that the matter go through neutral evaluation, which is a program relating to sinkhole claims in Florida. The homeowners proceeded to file a legal action based on Tower Hill’s refusal to cover the loss at the value estimated by their experts.
When Tower Hill filed three motions for summary judgment, the court granted two of them, holding on the first motion that the loss-payment provision of the policy meant that the claim was not ripe for filing because payment was not yet due at the time the lawsuit was filed. Further, a second motion was granted based on a mandatory stay provision in the neutral evaluation statute. The Second District Court disagreed with each of these holdings and reversed the lower court’s holding. The ruling was based on the court’s determination that the loss-payment provision anticipated the filing of a legal case before payment was due because it contained language about a final judgment triggering the requirement for payment. In addition, the court held that the stay provision in the neutral evaluation statute did not contain language that specifically precluded litigation where other statutory language that had that effect, such as the bankruptcy statute, clearly spelled out that restriction. While this court decision does not mean that the homeowner will be successful in the pursuit of a legal remedy, it does allow the policy holders to move forward with the presentation of their case. This is an important holding for homeowners who often face powerful insurance companies in court.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano Fights on Behalf of Homeowners
There are many times when a homeowner has experienced a loss that the insurance company refuses to cover or attempts to limit, so it may be necessary to go to court to get the coverage owed under the insurance policy. It is important to know when a case is ready to be litigated. The South Florida homeowners’ insurance law firm of Greenberg Stone and Urbano has spent more than 30 years getting coverage for homeowners through negotiation and litigation. We work with our clients to develop the legal strategy that works best for them. Our dedication to the best interests of our clients has earned us a peer-reviewed AV rating from Martindale Hubbell, which is the highest rating that a firm can receive. The Miami Herald also has voted us one of South Florida’s top-rated law firms. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule a time to discuss your case.