Because the term ‘bad faith’ is often confusing for clients who are unfamiliar with the term or the insurance tactics it entails, many victims may not even know they’re experiencing these tactics when they happen.
Such was the case for our client, who had changed lanes due to an emergency vehicle racing up behind her. As she signaled and began to move into the right lane to let the emergency vehicle pass, the defendant failed to see our client’s signal and lane movement. His intoxicated state adversely affected his reaction causing him to crash into the side of her vehicle. As a result of the collision, the grandmother of 4 suffered multiple injuries and required surgery to both wrists.
Not only did the defendant’s insurance company, Anchor General, refuse to pay our client a single penny for her damages and injuries, they blamed her for the accident, claiming she had made an ‘illegal lane change.” In addition, they left the defendant to fend for himself when we filed a lawsuit and judgment on the claim. Anchor General also failed to provide defense or legal counsel for their insured, eventually allowing the $50,000 claim on the defendant to be entered as a default judgement.
Independently, each of these actions by Anchor General - specifically their refusal to pay and failure to defend their client against our lawsuit - may not appear to be ‘bad faith.’ However, their action requesting that the default judgment against the defendant be set aside due to his mental incompetence verged on egregious. Essentially, they claimed that the lack of response from the Defense was due to their client’s incompetent state rather than their own failure to take the earlier, necessary actions.
Unwilling to let Anchor General’s actions or, their seeming ‘business’ strategy of refusing payment and denying responsibility, go undisputed, Dunnion Law attorneys stepped in to argue that as the defendant’s insurer, Anchor General had failed in its duty to defend their own client against our claim.
After filing several motions and preparing arguments against Anchor General, the default judgment of $50,000 was sustained, and they were ordered to pay our client the full $50,000 judgment, although the insured's policy limit was just $15,000. By working with the defendant who had suffered ‘bad faith’ from Anchor General, our attorneys secured payment from the insurance company itself, rather than from the defendant. As a result, Anchor General was held liable and responsible for payment of our client’s entire recovery amount.
By refusing payment earlier, failing to protect their client, and reneging on obligations to their insured, Anchor General in this case exemplified why and how ‘bad faith’ can occur. While the defendant’s policy limit was just $15,000, our attorneys’ skillful unveiling of Anchor General’s acts of bad faith helped our client obtain $50,000, more than 3 times the defendant’s policy limit. More importantly, Anchor General learned these types of ‘bad faith’ tactics will be challenged particularly when either our clients or our team of Dunnion Law attorneys are involved.