My client’s vehicle was involved a horrendous motor vehicle accident. Within hours of the accident, he claimed that his car had been stolen after leaving the keys in the trunk. Months later, he pled guilty to criminal charges of leaving the scene of the accident with injuries and death.
GEICO insured my client and the vehicle for the accident. My client was sued by one of the injured parties, and the estate of a person who was killed in the crash. GEICO appointed a defense attorney, and advised my client that it was defending the suits under a reservation of rights. GEICO also filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to disclaim coverage based on various coverage defenses, including material misrepresentation in the presentation of the claim, late notice, and failure to cooperate.
Pursuant to Florida Statue Section 627.426(2)(b) an insurer waives all "coverage defenses" unless within 60 days of receiving the lawsuit against its insured, the insurer: 1) gives written notice of its refusal to defend; 2) obtains a written non-waiver agreement; or 3) retains mutually agreeable counsel to defend the lawsuit.
In this case, GEICO failed to comply with any of these three options. Instead, it simply appointed counsel under a reservation of rights. Florida cases hold that appointing counsel is the "antithesis" of retaining mutually agreeable counsel.
On Wednesday, the trial court granted summary judgment to my client, holding that GEICO had indeed waived all coverage defenses. This is a great victory for those injured and killed in the crash.