A Tennessee jury has awarded a couple $2.7 million in a personal injury lawsuit, resulting from an auto accident with an uninsured, negligent driver. According to a witness, the driver of a Subaru swerved slamming into a Lexus waiting to make a right turn. The impact sent the Lexus up on a curb, and propelled the Subaru across three eastbound lanes and three westbound lanes and in to a grassy area. The driver of the Subaru testified that he had been in the center lane when the Lexus swerved in front of him, causing the accident.
The driver of the Lexus, Emil Sadowski, suffered a head injury and was hospitalized for nine days before being transferred to long-term care; he can no longer live independently. His wife, Kathryn, suffered internal injuries and a broken neck; two months after the accident, she succumbed to her injuries and died.
State Farm had $2.5 million of uninsured motorist coverage in force for the injured couple at the time of the 2012 accident. The couple had loyally paid their auto insurance premiums to State Farm for 30 years; despite their stellar payment record, the company denied the claim and tried to blame the couple for the accident. This is another prime example of an insurance company putting their bottom line over their obligation to honor their contracts of insurance. State Farm is not “the good neighbor” it claims to be. Policyholders pay State Farm billions each year in the form of premiums to protect them from a risk, but where is the protection when needed? The bottom line is that insurance companies make profits; premiums collected exceed claims paid. If they deny and delay claims long enough, they policyholder will give up or die; profits are preserved.
Unfortunately, insurance companies are not the only ones fighting to punish innocent victims. For example, The Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011″ imposed limits on “non-economic” and punitive damage awards at $750,000. The law also substantially altered Tennessee’s Consumer Protection Act. Insurance companies are no longer subject to punishment under the TCPA which had allowed victims to win triple damages and attorney fees when insurance companies acted in bad faith. The new laws states policyholders can no longer seek recovery for unfair or deceptive practices in the handling of an insurance claim.
Tennessee is the latest state to follow what appears to be a trend exempting insurers from bad faith practices. Such laws not only harms consumers, but sends a clear message that insurance companies can basically deny a claim, and act unfairly and deceptively, without recourse. Insurance companies are expected to cover on claims; this is what an insurance policy is all about. However, when the insurance company refuses for no sustainable reason, it acts in bad faith. It’s time to fight for our rights, time to expose insurance companies that wrongfully denied claims, and time to stop corporate greed and abuse in our civil justice system.
Mark Bello has thirty-six years experience as a trial lawyer and fourteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Member of Public Justice, Public Citizen, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.