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What is general liability insurance?

General liability insurance is a type of insurance policy that provides coverage for businesses against claims of bodily injury, property damage, and other injuries that may arise during business operations. General liability insurance is essential to protect businesses from potential financial losses due to lawsuits or claims.

One example of a situation necessitating general liability insurance is a customer slipping and falling on a wet floor in a store, resulting in injuries. In this case, the injured customer may file a lawsuit against the store, and general liability insurance would cover the legal expenses and any damages awarded up to the policy limits.

Another example is a construction company accidentally damaging a neighboring property during construction work. The property owner may seek compensation, and general liability insurance would protect the construction company from potential financial losses.

Need help with a matter related to general liability insurance? Schedule your consultation today with a top insurance attorney.

In Florida, which laws and regulations relate to general liability insurance?

In Florida, the laws and regulations that pertain to general liability insurance are primarily governed by state statutes and the Florida Department of Financial Services (FDFS). These laws and regulations set forth the requirements and guidelines for insurance procurement, coverage, and claims handling for businesses operating in the state.

For instance, Florida Statute Chapter 624 outlines the general provisions relating to insurance, including the types of insurance policies and the regulatory authority of the FDFS. Additionally, Florida Statute Chapter 627 deals with insurance rates and contracts, including general liability insurance policy regulations. Businesses in Florida must be familiar with these laws and regulations to ensure compliance and maintain appropriate insurance coverage.

What are common disputes regarding general liability insurance that lead to litigation?

The following disputes are among the most common in actions regarding general liability insurance in insurance procurement and coverage matters:

  • Scope of Coverage: Disagreements may arise over whether a particular incident is covered under the policy terms, leading to disputes between the insured and the insurer.
  • Exclusions and Limitations: Policyholders may contest the application of specific exclusions or limitations in their insurance policy, arguing that the insurer is unfairly denying coverage.
  • Policy Interpretation: Disputes can occur over the interpretation of policy language, especially when terms or conditions are ambiguous or unclear.
  • Bad Faith Claims: Policyholders may allege that the insurer acted in bad faith by delaying or denying claims without a reasonable basis or failing to investigate a claim adequately.

We are value-based attorneys at Jimerson Birr, which means we look at each action with our clients from the point of view of costs and benefits while reducing liability. Then, based on our client’s objectives, we chart a path to seek appropriate remedies.

To determine whether your unique situation may necessitate litigation, please contact our office to set up your initial consultation.

What measures should an insurance carrier take to minimize the risk of litigation over general liability insurance?

To successfully mitigate the risk of litigation over general liability insurance, an insurance carrier should consider the following steps:

  • Clearly Define Policy Terms: Ensure the policy language is clear, concise, and easy to understand, reducing the likelihood of disputes over interpretation.
  • Establish Effective Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with policyholders, addressing concerns or questions promptly and professionally.
  • Thoroughly Investigate Claims: Conduct a comprehensive investigation of all claims, gathering relevant evidence and evaluating the facts to make informed decisions on coverage.
  • Provide Timely Responses: Respond to claims promptly, avoiding unnecessary delays that could lead to accusations of bad faith.
  • Consistently Review and Update Policy Language: Regularly review and update policy terms and conditions to ensure they are current, accurate, and compliant with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Educate Policyholders: Provide policyholders with clear explanations of their coverage, exclusions, and limitations, helping them understand the scope of their protection and reducing the likelihood of disputes.

By implementing these measures, insurance carriers can effectively minimize the risk of litigation over general liability insurance coverage and maintain strong relationships with their policyholders.

What must a policyholder prove if they believe their insurer breached the insurance policy’s terms, and what are common legal defenses to those claims? 

Plaintiff policyholders must satisfy the following requirements for a breach of contract claim:

  • Existence of a valid insurance policy covering the plaintiff’s conduct;
  • Covered loss or damage occurred during the policy period;
  • Compliance with policy conditions, such as providing timely notice and proof of loss; and
  • The insurer failed to pay the claim or undervalued the claim in violation of the policy terms.

Common legal defenses against professional liability insurance claims include:

  • Policy Exclusions: The insurer argues that the loss or damage is excluded from coverage under the policy terms.
  • Late Notice: The insurer claims that the policyholder failed to provide timely notice of the loss, as the policy requires.
  • Misrepresentation or Concealment: The insurer alleges that the policyholder misrepresented or concealed material facts when obtaining the policy or submitting the claim.
  • Failure to mitigate damages: The insurer contends that the policyholder did not take reasonable steps to minimize the damage after the loss occurred.

Please get in touch with our office to set up your initial consultation to see what actions or defenses may be available for your unique situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the statute of limitations for filing a general liability insurance claim in Florida?

The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of claim. For example, breach of contract claims typically have a five-year statute of limitations, while negligence claims have a four-year statute of limitations. It is crucial to consult with a Florida attorney to determine the specific deadline for your claim.

Can I sue my insurance company if they refuse to cover my claim?

You may be able to sue your own insurance company for bad faith if they unreasonably deny your claim, fail to investigate your claim promptly, or otherwise act in bad faith. If this is the case, you may be entitled to damages, including the claim amount, attorney’s fees, and potentially punitive damages.

How can I protect my business from potential claims?

To protect your business from potential claims, consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Regularly review and update your insurance policies to ensure adequate coverage
  • Implement comprehensive risk management policies and procedures
  • Provide training to employees on workplace safety and best practices
  • Consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations

Have more questions about a general liability insurance-related situation?

Crucially, this overview of general liability insurance does not begin to cover all the laws implicated by this issue or the factors that may compel the application of such laws. Every case is unique, and the laws can produce different outcomes depending on the individual circumstances.

Jimerson Birr attorneys guide our clients to help make informed decisions while ensuring their rights are respected and protected. Our lawyers are highly trained and experienced in the nuances of the law, so they can accurately interpret statutes and case law and holistically prepare individuals or companies for their legal endeavors. Through this intense personal investment and advocacy, our lawyers will help resolve the issue’s complicated legal problems efficiently and effectively.

Having a Jimerson Birr attorney on your side means securing a team of seasoned, multi-dimensional, cross-functional legal professionals. Whether it is a transaction, an operational issue, a regulatory challenge, or a contested legal predicament that may require court intervention, we remain a tireless advocate every step of the way. Being a value-added law firm means putting the client at the forefront of everything we do. We use our experience to help our clients navigate even the most complex problems and come out the other side triumphant.

If you want to understand your case, the merits of your claim or defense, potential monetary awards, or the amount of exposure you face, you should speak with a qualified Jimerson Birr lawyer. Our experienced team of attorneys is here to help. Call Jimerson Birr at (904) 389-0050 or use the contact form to set up a consultation.

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