How an Insurance Company Works
Please understand how this works. Once someone injures you and they have insurance, the insurance is liable for the judgment that you'd get against the insured if you sue them (in limited amount, but usually pretty high). Ergo, to avoid paying out huge sums from a judgment where their insured is likely responsible, the insurance company likes to settle the claim to avoid litigation
. Once an agreement is reached, you sign a release and waive your rights to sue in exchange for the payout.
But, how does one reach that settlement? The insurance adjuster. The adjuster's job is to make you miserable. They will ignore you, confuse you, and ask for redundant and seemingly needless paperwork in an effort to talk you into a small settlement or have you give up all-together. And remember, statute of limitations
usually only gives you a limited time to file suit, which is four years per §95.11(3)(h)
. They know this; they hope you do not. If you miss the four year mark, you can no longer file against their driver, which means they do not even have to work with you.
What they are offering should at least cover the boat. Not that they have to
, but because they know that you'll at least get that in Court, plus attorney/legal fees.
An attorney usually cuts through this malarkey since the adjuster knows counsel does not put up with this and WILL file suit if needed (whereas here, they do not see you as much of a threat without an attorney since you filing or winning a suit without counsel is unlikely). Then a settlement is usually reached. The attorney should take this on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless you do. Usual set up is their take is 33% settlement, 40% win at trial, 45% at appeal; plus some office costs. Everything is negotiable.
May I recommend the FL Bar referral program - here
. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.Causes of Action
To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract
," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one
cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.
Here, the likely cause of action is NEGLIGENCE. The four elements of negligence are (1) a legal duty owed by defendant to plaintiff, (2) breach of that duty by defendant, (3) an injury to plaintiff legally caused by defendant's breach, and (4) damages as a result of the injury. Paterson v. Deeb, 472 So. 2d 1210 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 1985
.Who Can You Sue
Not the insurance company. They are not a party to the matter. However, you can likely sue:
1) The WELDER (for negligence);
2) The BOAT YARD (ordinarily, the contractor is not liable for their sub-contractor's negligence, but if the activity is ultra-hazardous, then they may be).
Finally, yes, loss of income CAN BE INCLUDED in the suit if tied directly to the loss of the boat. As such and if so, it should also be included in negotiation for settlement.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.
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