$1,540,000 :: Bird

JURY VERDICT: Insurer failed to promptly pay $10,000 underinsured motorist benefits

When a 57-year-old engineer was injured in a car accident caused by another driver, the insurance company was slow to pay out, causing undue emotional and financial stress on the engineer.

The accident occurred when a drunk driver who had $15,000 coverage crashed his automobile into the plaintiff. The plaintiff’s insurance carrier included an underinsured motorists’ coverage for up to $25,000. So after the plaintiff received the $15,000 claim from the at-fault driver’s carrier, he submitted a claim for the difference of $10,000. The Plaintiff had accumulated $5,000 in medical specials and suffered a brain injury as confirmed by psychometric testing. He did not suffer any loss of earnings due to his being away from work for only two days.

The defendant insurance company denied the plaintiff’s claim of brain injury and offered no compensation for the claim. After nine months of refusing to pay out, the case went to arbitration and resulted in an Arbitration Award in favor of the plaintiff for the full $10,000.

The injured party hired Lawrence R. Booth & Johanna J. Hansen of The Law Offices of Booth & Koskoff to represent him in a civil suit against his insurance carrier. The plaintiff claimed this was a case of insurance bad faith, contending that the defendant insurance company stonewalled the claim and never completed a full and fair investigation.

While the defendant did initially offer $50,000 settlement that was later raised to $500,000 during the course of the trial, attorney Booth recommended waiting for the jury to make their final decision. Ultimately the jury sided with the plaintiff and awarded him $1,500,000 in punitive damages plus $40,000 in compensatory.

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