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Quote of the Day - We're trying to move into the 21st century. - Judith Young
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It Doesn't Pay For Insurance Companies To Negotiate In Bad Faith

Natalie Aguirre hit a parked car stopped at a red light.  She didn't carry enough insurance for the injuries she caused.  The car that Natalie hit belonged to Stuart Brehm's parents.  After the injury, he and his parents equally divided the $30,000 of coverage Natalie had.  Stuart, however, needed more to cover injuries to his shoulder, so he made a claim to 21st Century Insurance under his parent's underinsured motorist  coverage, which had limits up to $100,000.

Stuart Brehm, IV submitted documentation of his severe shoulder injury that required surgery, and his doctor estimated his claim near the limit of the 21st Century policy.  In response, 21st Century's medical expert, Dr. Swickard, disputed Brehm's injury and made a counteroffer of $5,000.

Without an agreement, they scheduled an arbitration, and Stuart underwent an independent medical evaluation, which put his costs around $20,000.  He submitted an offer to 21st Centruy for $85,000.  In the arbitration, Brehm received $91,186, which 21st Century then paid.

Next, Brehm filed a breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing lawsuit, alleging 21st Century's medical evaluation was a sham.  According to the record, Brehm further alleged Dr. Swickard, a nonpracticing professional expert witness, was known to the insurance industry to be biased in favor of the defense and was retained, not to objectively and fairly evaluate Brehm's shoulder injury, but with the intent that he minimize its seriousness to make it appear ‑‑ falsely ‑‑ there was a genuine dispute about the extent of that injury."

The trial court kicked his case out, but in the appeal his case got reinstated.  The appellate court ruled that 21st Century couldn't avoid the bad faith lawsuit simply by requesting the arbitration, and that the the Genuine Dispute Rule does not protect an insurer whose position is not maintained in good faith and on reasonable grounds.  In other words, by its so-far-off-the-mark offer, 21st Century likely committed bad faith, and Brehm is entitled to have a jury hear his arguments.  While the case may get to a jury, with this ruling, it's more likely to settle. 

You could say that Brehm has shoulded his fair share of abuse.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, October 06, 2008 at 14:40 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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