The Florida Supreme Court’s recent majority decision in Nunez v. Geicohas dealt a blow to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurers, although the effect of the ruling has been blunted by changes to Florida’s no-fault PIP legislation. At issue was whether a PIP insurer may require a claimant to submit to an examination under oath (EUO).
What is an EUO?
When you file an insurance claim, it is a common policy requirement that you submit to an EUO. Similar to a deposition, you are required to give sworn testimony and answer questions from the insurer’s representative, usually an attorney. It is a formal proceeding done in the presence of a court reporter who records everything that is said. It is also usual for an audio or video recording to be made. You will probably be asked many questions by the lawyer, typically for several hours. Insurance companies claim that the purpose of the EUO is to prevent fraud and test credibility. Since the PIP claim exists regardless of fault, the EUO questions often deal more with your medical treatment than with how the accident happened.
What Did the Supreme Court Decide?
In answering a certified question from a federal circuit court, the Supreme Court held that it was impermissible for a PIP insurer to deny coverage based on an insured’s failure to submit to an EUO. The court reasoned that demanding an EUO was against the policy considerations underlying Florida’s then-existing PIP statute, which was designed to ensure quick settlement of claims.
What Does this Ruling Mean in Practice?
If you filed a PIP insurance claim before January 1, 2013, your insurer cannot demand that you submit to an EUO. However, new legislation came into effect on January 1, 2013 that allows insurers to hold you to such a requirement, so if you filed a PIP claim after that date, your insurer may demand that you attend an EUO.
I Have Been Asked to Attend an EUO. Should I Have a Lawyer With Me?
Due to the nature of the EUO, you may feel confused or intimidated by the questioning. There may also be questions that you should not have to answer. It is therefore important for you to have your own attorney to help you prepare for and represent you at the examination.