The U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently revived a $2.7 million bad faith claim against Geico insurance company for failing to settle an insurance dispute. It was determined that a lower court applied the wrong statute of limitations of four years instead of five. That extra year made it possible for the plaintiff to bring his case back into court.
The situation behind Geico’s bad faith claim raises an important question: does your insurance company really care about you? Their commercials are touching and persuasive, but when it comes to shelling out money after your injury, are their own interests more important?
Geico Found in Bad Faith
In 2009, a car drove by Waldemar Baranowski lost control and wrecked. The passenger, Jiri Renotierova, was thrown from the vehicle and seriously injured. Renotierova and his wife sued Baranowski, who carried a Geico policy with $10,000 per person and $20,000 per occurrence in coverage. Geico refused to settle for its policy limits, so a trial followed in 2012 in which the jury awarded more than $2.6 million in damages plus $88,000 in litigation costs.
A few years later, Baranowski filed a bad-faith complaint against Geico, claiming that the insurance company, “knew or should have known that the injuries sustained by Jiri Renotierova were of such a serious nature that, if the case were not settled, it would result in a verdict… far in excess” of Geico’s policy limits says Peter Catania, st. petersburg personal injury attorney law firm.
What Is Bad Faith Insurance?
Insurance companies have an obligation to act in good faith when handling claims. This means that your claim can’t be denied without a solid reason, and your company needs to honor the terms of your policy to help you recover from any accident or emergency. However, this doesn’t stop many insurance companies – like the Geico story above – from denying claims in order to save money. This is known as acting in bad faith.
What If Your Insurance Company Acts In Bad Faith?
If you double check that your claim wasn’t denied for a legitimate reason, such as your failure to pay premiums, and you suspect that your insurance company has acted in bad faith, begin by writing a letter to your insurance company to expose their mistakes and provide documentation to prove your point.
If that doesn’t work, hire a clearwater personal injury lawyer to begin the legal process for bad faith insurance. Many companies only need the initial threat of a lawsuit to change their tune, while others will drag the process through court. You have a chance to fight against any denied claim in order to obtain a fair settlement.