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Eleventh Circuit Court: Florida Bad Faith Claims Have Five-Year Statute of Limitations


On January 9, 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision in the case of Waldemar Baranowski v. GEICO General Insurance Company. This dispute arose after an appeal was filed following a ruling from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The Eleventh Circuit has now provided critically important clarification regarding Florida’s statute of limitations for bad faith insurance claims. Policyholders have five years to bring this type of legal claim. Here, our top-rated Fort Lauderdale bad faith insurance lawyers analyze this decision and explain the most important implications.

Case Analysis: Waldemar Baranowski v. GEICO General Insurance Company

The Facts 

In 2009, Waldemar Baranowski was involved in an auto accident in the state of Florida. At the time of the crash, Mr. Baranowski had a passenger with him in his vehicle. Sadly, the passenger sustained severe injuries in the crash. A personal injury claim was filed against Mr. Baranowski.

His insurance provider GEICO declined to settle the lawsuit. Eventually, the court found Mr. Baranowski legally liable for the passenger’s injuries. In total, $2,686,383.50 in financial compensation was awarded to the victim. Mr. Baranowski filed a bad faith insurance claim against GEICO, alleging that the company should have settled the claim far earlier in the legal process. 

The Issue  

Unfortunately for Mr. Baranowski, his bad faith insurance claim was dismissed by the U.S. District Court. According to that court, he filed his claim seven months after the statute of limitation expired. The lower court agreed with GEICO’s argument that bad faith insurance claims are subject to a four-year statute of limitations in Florida, as that is the time limit for general property damage based negligence claims. The court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the appropriate statute of limitations for bad faith claims was actually five years. Under this argument, the bad faith claim arose out of a contract dispute, not a negligence case. 

The Decision and the Implications  

The Eleventh Circuit court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, rejecting the dismissal of the bad faith claim. In its decision, the Eleventh Circuit court made clear its view that the lower court did not use the correct statute of limitations to handle this lawsuit. This case has important implications for policyholders who have been the victim of bad faith settlement practice. The court has made it clear: If you were the victim of bad faith insurance practices, Florida law gives you five years to initiate your bad faith insurance lawsuit.

Consult With Our Fort Lauderdale Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers Today

We can help. At Geyer Fuxa Tyler, our Florida bad faith insurance attorneys have helped many homeowners obtain full and fair compensation for their damages. If you were the victim of bad faith settlement practices, please call us today for a free claim evaluation. We serve property owners throughout Broward County, FL, including in Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, Hollywood, and Deerfield Beach.

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