Case Result Settlement $487,670

Settlement Amount: $487,670
Underinsured motorist arbitration award in excess of the policy limit and paid by the insurance company to avoid a bad faith lawsuit for failure to settle the claim earlier.

This was an underinsured motorist arbitration proceeding involving a collision with a drunk driver. The third-party claim settled for the policy limit of $50,000, leaving $200,000 under the underinsured motorist policy, and nationwide made a 998 offer of $25,000, later $100,000. We declined to mediate and advised Nationwide’s counsel time and time again before arbitration that the failure to settle for the remaining policy limit of $200,000 was a flagrant breach of Nationwide’s duty of good faith and fair dealing owed to our client. Nationwide stuck its head in the sand and refused to pay the policy limit.

The matter was arbitrated on October 26, 2023, by Hon. David M. Chapman (Ret.), and the award decision was rendered on November 6, 2023. The damages awarded were $487,670.78, which included $32,126.78 in past medical expenses. In addition to our client’s dislocated sacrococcygeal joint injury, our expert provided key testimony, based on his experience and review of the medical literature, that her primary injury, a labral tear in her hip, is a tricky one to diagnose and may take several years for a clinician to recognize following trauma, as it did in this case.

Following the arbitrator’s decision, a demand for full payment of the arbitration award was made, pinpointing Nationwide’s bad faith conduct throughout the proceeding. Specifically, Nationwide (1) failed to take any depositions of treating doctors, (2) failed to conduct a medical examination, (3) ignored multiple demand letters laying out the extent of our client’s injuries and her damages, and (4) failed to fully investigate her claim, while refusing to pay the policy limit. Instead, Nationwide hired an expert to say her symptoms should have resolved in four months—a time period untethered to anything in the medical records and long before her labral tear was even diagnosed. Under well-established law, Nationwide had a duty to “fully inquire into possible bases that might support the insured’s claim before denying it.”

On December 15, 2023, Nationwide management agreed to pay the arbitration award in full. It was only after our client arbitrated against her insurer, prevailed against her insurer, and advised her insurer of the prospect of bad faith litigation that Nationwide was finally on her side.

Walter Clark Legal Group

Walter Clark Legal Group
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