A Pennsylvania Insurance Company agreed to pay $20 million dollars to settle a bad faith lawsuit after it refused to settle a valid claim. A drunk driver left Joseph Tuski a quadriplegic after striking his vehicle. Mr. Tuski sued the driver and the tavern that overserved him. The tavern’s insurance company knew of the extent of Mr. Tuski’s injuries and its the tavern’s liability, yet refused to settle with him for the $1 million dollar policy limits. A jury awarded Mr. Tuski $75 million dollars, including $25 million in punitive damages. The judgment was cut in half by the judge. The tavern then assigned its bad faith claim to Mr. Tuski. The insurance company just settled the claim for $20 million dollars.
Insurance companies often get away with refusing to honor or even investigate valid claims. This issue is a major one in Washington right now. The state legislature recently passed and Governor Gregoire signed the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which only forces insurance companies to act fairly. The insurance industry, through misleading entities who say they are led by consumers, is vigorously fighting the bill.
Ask yourself this question: what’s so bad about making the insurance industry act fairly? Wouldn’t that reduce the amount of lawsuits like the one above?