LAKEWOOD RANCH – Updated bad faith regulations were the focal point of recently held board seminar of the Manasota Trial Lawyers.
The event was hosted by Bernard F. Walsh, founder of the board and attorney at Shapiro Goldman Babboni & Walsh.
“It was incredible," Walsh told the Florida Record. "We had two excellent presenters: Lee D. Gunn out of Tampa and also a local attorney by the name of Steven T. Wittmer. Both addressed updates to bad faith laws in Florida and also spoke on how to handle cases that may turn into bad faith litigation. I thought it was a difficult topic that they handled very well.”
Gunn is an attorney with the Gunn Law Firm out of Tampa and Wittmer is with Wittmer Linehan of Sarasota. Both Gunn and Wittmer focused on bad faith litigation during their presentations that were followed by an open forum discussion in which attorneys and members of the southwest and central Florida legal community participated. The discussion allowed for questions by the attendees and provided ways to prepare for cases that deal with bad faith under the new rules established in Florida.
The emphasis on bad faith litigation was especially relevant, Walsh said.
“It’s a huge concern. Bad faith law comes into play when an insurance company fails to do what they are supposed to do," he said.
Typical bad faith litigation involves an insurance company that has acted unfairly when processing a claim or has delayed a claim for unnecessary reasons. The discussion at the seminar suggested the importance of seeking out an attorney that is experienced in the field of bad faith for legal advice in a case.
“The main takeaway is if you're handling accident cases and you suspect that the insurance company is acting improperly, call and get advice from attorneys that just do that area of law,” Walsh said.
For Walsh, this means having attorneys like Gunn and Wittmer on speed dial for when a bad faith suit presents itself.
“I keep both of these attorneys and others on speed dial for when I have questions on how a case is proceeding and if I need to add other claims against an insurance company for bad faith,” Walsh said. “I don’t profess to be an expert, but I’m expert enough to call.”
The seminar of the Manasota Trial Lawyers board is beneficial to attorneys as they try and navigate the waters of personal injury law, Walsh said.
“It’s overwhelming to try and keep up with all the changes going on in personal injury claims and personal injury law,” he said. “Seminars to educate attorneys that practice in these areas are crucial. Most importantly, you need to attend seminars like this so you can offer the best representation possible for your client.”