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Florida Supreme Court Rules that Insurer Must Pay Homeowners’ Attorney’s Fees Even Though It Acted in Good Faith

When the insurer acts in bad faith in denying a claim, homeowners can file suit to recover the benefits they were wrongfully denied in addition to attorney’s fees.  The award of attorney’s fees is important as it can significantly increase the sum awarded to the insured.  In a recent case, the Florida Supreme Court considered a unique question—if the insurer denies a claim in good faith, is the insured still entitled to attorney’s fees?  Our homeowners’ insurance lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano discuss the case of Johnson v. Omega Ins. Co. and its potential implications on the award of attorney’s fees in future homeowners’ insurance disputes.

Bad Faith Denial Not Required for Recovery of Attorneys’ Fees

In Johnson v. Omega Ins. Co., the insured submitted a claim with her homeowners’ insurance company for damage caused due to a sinkhole.  The insurer investigated the claim and made an initial determination that the damage was not caused by a sinkhole and was not covered by the policy.  The insured filed suit claiming the insurer acted in bad faith.  Meanwhile, the insured continued to investigate the claim and ultimately concluded the damage was caused by a sinkhole.  The insurer filed an answer to the lawsuit admitting that the insured should receive benefits.  Based on this, the insured moved for a judgment and attorney’s fees, which the trial court granted.

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and held that a finding of bad faith is a prerequisite to the award of attorney’s fees.  However, the Florida Supreme Court reversed.  It held that the insured could recover for attorney’s fees without having to prove that the insurer acted in bad faith.  It held that an incorrect denial is all that is needed to recover attorney’s fees, absent a showing of bad faith.

This Florida case could potentially have implications for other homeowners’ insurance cases in the state. While bad faith cases are prominent within the insurance law industry, many other claims are merely incorrectly denied without bad faith intent.  Now, homeowners with these claims could potentially also benefit from the award of attorney’s fees.

If your homeowners’ insurance claim has been improperly denied, contact our homeowners’ insurance lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano.  Our firm will maximize your chance of obtaining the benefits you are entitled to under your policy.  Some homeowners may avoid hiring an attorney because they are afraid of the potential upfront costs. Homeowners should rest assured that they can obtain the best legal assistance through a contingency fee arrangement with our office.

Contact the South Florida Homeowners’ Insurance Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation!

If you received a letter denying your homeowners’ insurance claim and you believe the insurer acted in bad faith, you may have the right to recover damages and potentially attorney’s fees.  Bad faith litigation is complex and will require that you arm yourself with knowledge of the law.  For help with your bad faith or related homeowners’ insurance claim, contact the Miami Homeowners’ Insurance Attorneys at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano.  Our experienced homeowners’ insurance attorneys assist homeowners like you across the state of Florida.  At Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, we bring over 130 years of combined professional experience to your case.  Our firm received the honor of receiving an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was named a Top South Florida Law Firm by the Miami Herald.  Call us today at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 to schedule your free consultation.  You can also contact us online.

 

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