“An injured person has no beneficial interest in the wrongdoer’s liability policy until a judgment is entered against the insured.” General Star Indemnity Co. v. Boran Craig Barber Engel Construction Co., Inc., 895 So.2d 1136, 1138 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005).
In actuality, once a verdict is rendered, the injured party may move to join and bind the liability insurer to a judgment entered against the insured through Florida Statute s. 627.4136(4):
(4) At the time a judgment is entered or a settlement is reached during the pendency of litigation, a liability insurer may be joined as a party defendant for the purposes of entering final judgment or enforcing the settlement by the motion of any party, unless the insurer denied coverage under the provisions of s. 627.426(2) or defended under a reservation of rights pursuant to s. 627.426(2). A copy of the motion to join the insurer shall be served on the insurer by certified mail. If a judgment is reversed or remanded on appeal, the insurer’s presence shall not be disclosed to the jury in a subsequent trial.
This would also be true if a binding arbitration award was rendered against the insured and the injured party moves to confirm the arbitration award in court and reduce the award to a final judgment. See Tallahassee Memorial Regional Medical Center, Inc. v. Kinsey, 655 So.2d 1191 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995).
However, as set forth in the s. 627.4136(4), the liability insurer will not be automatically joined and bound by a judgment entered against its insured if it denied coverage or defended its insured under a reservation of rights (which is oftentimes the case). If either circumstance occurs–denial of coverage or defense under reservation of rights–the injured party can still sue the liability insurer for insurance coverage since it now has a beneficial interest in the policy. The injured party can still try to pursue post-judgment efforts against the insured to argue coverage for purposes of obtaining insurance proceeds.
Please contact David Adelstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.