Lousie King’s husband was killed by a drugged up driver in Montana. That driver did not have insurance.
When King submitted the claim to GEICO, her uninsured motorist policy carrier, the insurance company tried to pay half of what it owed under her policy in exchange for the release of all claims.
King refused to sign the release and GEICO, in turn, refused to pay her any of the insurance money they admitted she was owed. She, appropriately, filed suit.
In trial, GEICO claimed they handled the claim properly and in good faith. However, the federal jury unanimously disagreed, claiming the company absolutely acted in bad faith.
King was awarded $200,000 in contract damages from her policy in addition to $2.5 million in punitive damages against GEICO for refusing to pay her in bad faith.
By claiming a company is acting in bad faith, you’re saying they failed to pay an obvious claim of misfortune that showcases obvious liability. When an attorney files suit against a company for bad faith, it’s usually out of outrage after a client comes in and explains what happened and details how they were treated.
I’d be outraged if I handled this woman’s case in Montana. This family had an uninsured motorist coverage policy, the husband was killed by an uninsured motorist, but the insurance company only thought that was worth half of the policy? That doesn’t add up and it’s not fair to the widow.
Many states, like Montana, have statutes allowing a plaintiff to sue their insurance company for acting in “bad faith.” However, Tennessee isn’t one of them.
Punitive damages do exist in Tennessee, but cannot be awarded for “bad faith.” If the insurance company acted unlawfully, then punitive damages could be awarded.
But, if this situation happened in Tennessee, Ms. King would have been limited to the policy limits of the insurance company.
Folks, if you don’t have insurance and you’re out there driving on these Shelby County roads, get insurance. Make sure your policy includes uninsured motorist coverage – as you can see, it’s very important.
Here at Darrell Castle & Associates, we’ve handled Memphis car accident cases for decades and seeing the impact they can have on people and families isn’t easy. But, it fuels our drive to fight to make sure they are properly compensated for medical bills, car damage, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, always seek medical help immediately. After that, if the accident wasn’t your fault, seek legal advice.
If this is you, let us help. Contact us today, either online or by calling us at (901) 327-1212 and one of our experienced Memphis personal injury attorneys will be ready to speak with you about your situation, free of charge.