Fourth District Court of Appeal Allows Florida Car Accident Victim to Pursue Claim Against Insurance Broker

When an accident happens while working, one generally counts on insurance to be available through one’s employer.  A Fourth District Court of Appeal case, Gelsomino v. Ace American Ins. Co. (No. 4D14-4767), deals with the nightmare scenario of an employee seriously injuring himself in a car accident, only to find that the broker tasked with obtaining insurance for his employer failed to do so properly.  In this case, the Court of Appeal reversed a directed verdict granted by a trial judge after a jury found for the injured worker.  The injured worker was employed by his brother’s construction business, which built interiors of hotels.  The original business was based in Florida, and a new one was formed in order to do business in the Bahamas.  After incorporation, the owner used a broker to obtain an insurance policy, informing the broker that the company was located in Jacksonville, FL and was an agent for the Bahamian company.  The business paid for the policy and received a certificate of insurance identifying the Bahamian company as the insured.  However, the policy listed the Florida company as the insured.

The injured employee broke all the bones in his foot in a car accident that occurred on the way to the airport in the Bahamas.  Afterwards, he called the broker to file his claim, but he was told his claim was denied, since he wasn’t insured. The injured man eventually filed suit against the broker for negligence in procuring the policy for the Bahamian company.  The injured man claimed that he relied upon the Certificate of Insurance and that he was out medical expenses and lost wages.  The injured man argued that at trial, he raised the issue of damages stemming from the broker’s negligence, but the broker only mentioned it during the motion for directed verdict after the jury verdict in favor of the injured employee.  While the jury found the injured man and his brother shared in the liability, it ultimately found the injured man incurred lost wages of over $73,000, past medical expenses of  $10,000, and future medical expenses of $151,370.  The broker was determined to be 35% responsible for the injuries.  The broker argued that the injured man did not prove damages and that any damages proven would be limited to the policy limits.

On appeal, the injured man pointed to the evidence presented at trial of the economic losses arising from the car accident.  The injured man also said it was the broker’s obligation to show the jury that the damages were limited to the policy limits.  The appellate court agreed with the broker, comparing it to a Third District case in which an injured party was successful after providing evidence of damages, along with the Certificate of Insurance on which the injured party relied, believing he was insured.  The court in this case felt that there was enough evidence to support the verdict and that the directed verdict was improper.  The decision favoring the broker was reversed and remanded with an order reinstating the verdict.

The Florida car accident attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can aggressively pursue all avenues of legal relief.  Call today for a free, confidential consultation at 772-266-5555 or 561-299-3999.

More Blog Posts:

Florida District Court of Appeal Reviews Drunk Driver Motorcycle Accident Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, August 4, 2016

Wrongful Death Appeal Discusses Statutory Requirements for Expert Witnesses in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2016