One of the essential elements of any South Florida lawsuit seeking uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits is damages. If the damages exceed $75,000, the injured party may file the lawsuit in federal court. Even if the plaintiff files an action in state court, the defendant may remove the case to federal court if the damages alleged meet the threshold amount, but the defendant must remove the case within a strict timeframe. In some cases, however, the exact amount of damages incurred may not be clear at the onset of a lawsuit, and a removal may be appropriate at a later date. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida recently analyzed what constitutes a timely removal in a case in which the plaintiff did not allege a specific amount of damages in the initial pleading. If you were involved in a South Florida car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, it is essential to retain a skilled South Florida personal injury attorney to assist you in pursuing benefits from your insurer.
The Plaintiff’s Pleadings
Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant insurer in February 2018, alleging she suffered personal injuries in a car accident with an underinsured third party, and suffered permanent and continuing losses. She did not quantify the dollar amount of her damages. In June 2018, the plaintiff produced medical bills in excess of $150,000.00. Then, in August 2018, the defendant offered to settle the claim for $100,000.00, which was the UIM policy limit.
It is reported that the plaintiff rejected the offer and in September 2018, filed a motion for leave to amend her complaint, seeking to add a bad faith claim. In doing so, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant originally denied her claim and then admitted that her damages met or exceeded the policy limits by making the settlement offer. In October 2018, the defendant moved the case to federal court. The plaintiff objected, arguing the removal was untimely.