Florida law allows both first-party and third-party bad faith claims. Insurance companies have a duty to handle and adjust claims in good faith. When they fail to do so, the claimant may have a bad faith claim against them.
Since the basis of a bad faith claim is the actions of the insurer and not the underlying liability or first-party claim, the elements of a bad faith claim and the procedures involved in litigating it are different from those of the underlying tort. The actions of the insurance company, and possibly the attorney who represented the insured on behalf of the insurance company, are relevant in the bad faith case. Obtaining the claim file and the litigation file from the underlying case can be very helpful in proving the bad faith claim. The files of an attorney, however, are often protected by the work-product doctrine and attorney-client privilege. A significant issue in a bad faith case is what documents from the underlying claim are discoverable.
The Fifth District addressed this issue in the recent case of Boozer v. Stalley. In this case, the attorney and his client sought to quash a trial court order allowing the plaintiff in a bad faith action to depose and obtain documents from the attorney.