Progressive Insurance Loses Legal Battle, Against The Family Of Its Insured, Over Paying Its Underinsured Motorist Policy Limits
On June 19, 2010, Kaitlynn (“Katie”) Fisher died in a car accident in Baltimore, Maryland, when a driver, who was insured by Nationwide Insurance, ran a red light and struck her vehicle. After Nationwide tendered its insured’s policy limits of $25,000, Katie’s family turned to Progressive Insurance for additional compensation. At the time of the accident, Katie maintained an underinsured motorist policy with Progressive, which had policy limits of $100,000.
However, Progressive refused to pay the $75,000 difference between the Nationwide policy limits and its policy limits. Instead, Progressive forced Katie’s family to file an action against the Nationwide insured, to prove that Katie was without fault for causing the car accident. Under Maryland law, if a driver is found even one percent at fault for causing an accident, he or she is completely barred from recovery, which is not the case in Illinois. Under Illinois law, an injured party receives greater protection, in that an injured party is only barred from recovery if his or her negligence is deemed greater than fifty percent. In denying the underinsured motorist claim, Progressive believed that it could avoid paying its underinsured motorist policy limits, by forcing the family to take their case to a jury.
Despite Progressive Insurance’s best efforts and cruel intentions, a jury found that Katie bore no responsibility for causing the car accident and awarded Katie’s family $760,000. The verdict means that Progressive is obligated to pay Katie’s family the underinsured motorist policy limits of $100,000. But the questions remains, whether Progressive Insurance’s refusal to pay the $100,000 constitued bad faith. Under Illinois law, if Katie’s family could demonstrate bad faith, they could potentially recover the entire jury award. Hopefully, Maryland law treats such matters in a similar fashion.
If you need a car accident lawyer in Chicago, call the law firm of Cary J. Wintroub & Associates at 312-726-1021, to learn how we can help you!
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