A "simple property theft claim" shouldn't require hiring a lawyer. This case sadly shows why it is necessary many times.
Jose De Leon had the bad luck to have his truck stolen.
Luckily, he had the foresight to have a policy of insurance to cover such thefts.
What he couldn't foresee was that when he attempted to process a "simple theft loss ", he would be subjected to "unwarranted and intrusive " inquiries from his own insurance company, including a seven -hour examination under oath.
Mr. DeLeon had to hire an lawyer simply to obtain the coverage for which he paid. This case, which can be read in its entirety at the Third District Court of Appeals, illustrates why a person sometimes has to hire a Florida injury lawyer to act as an advocate, even when dealing with his or her own insurance company.
Mr DeLeon's truck was stolen and later recovered. Before it was recovered, nine large, industrial tires were taken from the truck. Before Mr. Deleon's insurance company, Great American Insurance Co. (true name) would pay the claim, it elected to demand that Mr. DeLeon sit for an Examination Under Oath (EUO).
Mr. Deleon appeared without an attorney. During this statement, which the Third District Court of Appeals quotes from extensively, Mr. DeLeon was asked about a variety of things, including the woman he was living with, a prior marriage, children from that marriage,etc but was never asked a question about the theft of his truck.
Frustrated by these tactics, the insured eventually refused to answer such questions. The insurance company attorney persisted in questions that the Third Court of Appeals termed "unwarranted and intrusive"
Mr DeLeon stuck to his guns, pointing out that "you have a copy of my papers, all my receipts, the bills, everything. If you don't want - if you're not going to talk to me about - about what it is, see you next time."
The Great American Insurance lawyer then warned him that "you may be jeopardizing coverage".
Mr. DeLeon then left and hired his own lawyer to sue Great American.
Even after he filed suit, Great American deposed its insured for seven hours before paying the full $8,000.loss.
Then the insurance company refused tio pay the bills Mr. DeLeon incurred in hiring a lawyer, claiming that the suit was premature because the insured had improperly refused to complete a pre-suit EUO.
The Third District Court of Appeals rejected this argument:
"This is completely wrong; because Mr. DeLeon "refused" to respond to wholly impertinent and improper questions which had nothing to do with the merits of the claim and we think he was right to do so."
The Appellate court ordered the trial court to make an appropriate award of attorney's fees.
Every insurance claim doesn't require a lawyer. But David Glatthorn , P.A has fought for and obtained many judgments on behalf of insureds when insurance companies have wrongly denied claims. Call us if you have any questions as to your legal rights under an insurance policy. You will have the benefit of 30 years of experience and the counsel of a lawyer recognized by the Florida Bar as a specialist in Civil Trial Practice since 1989.