6-21.1. Allowance of counsel fees as part of costs in certain cases.

(a) In any personal injury or property damage suit, or suit against an insurance company under a policy issued by the defendant insurance company in which the insured or beneficiary is the plaintiff, instituted in a court of record, upon findings by the court (i) that there was an unwarranted refusal by the defendant to negotiate or pay the claim which constitutes the basis of such suit, (ii) that the amount of damages recovered is twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) or less, and (iii) that the amount of damages recovered exceeded the highest offer made by the defendant no later than 90 days before the commencement of trial, the presiding judge may, in the judge's discretion, allow a reasonable attorneys' fees to the duly licensed attorneys representing the litigant obtaining a judgment for damages in said suit, said attorneys' fees to be taxed as a part of the court costs. The attorneys' fees so awarded shall not exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

(b) When the presiding judge determines that an award of attorneys' fees is to be made under this statute, the judge shall issue a written order including findings of fact detailing the factual basis for the finding of an unwarranted refusal to negotiate or pay the claim, and setting forth the amount of the highest offer made 90 days or more before the commencement of trial, and the amount of damages recovered, as well as the factual basis and amount of any such attorneys' fees to be awarded. (1959, c. 688; 1963, c. 1193; 1967, c. 927; 1969, c. 786; 1979, c. 401; 1985 (Reg. Sess., 1986), c. 976; 2011-283, s. 3.1; 2011-317, s. 1.1; 2013-159, s. 5.)