The Law Offices Of Terence Traverso Announce Judgment In Insurance Bad Faith Case
SEATTLE, Feb. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Trial Lawyer Terence F. Traverso, founder of the Seattle-based law offices of Terence F. Traverso, announced today a judgment of $1,204,298 for a client who was struck and injured by an underinsured motorist in a case in which GEICO violated its duty of good faith and the Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA).
The client, an active personal trainer, was involved in a motor vehicle accident on January 8, 2014, in which he was struck by an underinsured motorist who carried only $25,000 in coverage for bodily injuries. The client was insured by GEICO. On his behalf, Mr. Traverso sent a settlement demand for underinsured motorist benefits in February 2015. GEICO ignored the evidence of injury and their effects on the client, such as disputing radiological findings of a T7 spinal fracture. GEICO was aware of the various ways the injuries affected the client’s life and activities, yet GEICO refused to assign any dollar amount to those losses or offer to pay benefits for them, as it was required to do.
An Insurance Fair Conduct Act notice was sent to GEICO, demanding it pay its underinsured motorist policy limits of $100,000. Several months later, in October 2016, GEICO made an offer to settle the claim for $10,000. This was the only offer GEICO ever made in the case. Three years later, GEICO requested a settlement demand immediately following opening statements at trial, to which the demand was set at $1,000,000. GEICO never responded to the demand.
Following trial, the jury determined that the damages caused by the underinsured motorist were $261,496, well in excess of the $100,000 underinsured motorist policy limits. The jury also found that GEICO violated IFCA and the duty of good faith and fair dealing by denying payment of benefits. The jury set damages at $84,000 for violating the act, with additional non-economic damages at $400,000. The judge later trebled the actual damages to deter insurers from engaging in similar misconduct in the future, and awarded reasonable attorney’s fees of $388,200, IFCA litigation costs of $61,636, and taxable costs of $2,461 resulting in a total judgment of $1,204,298, which GEICO later paid.
“This is a classic example of a case where a responsible motorist was covered for underinsured motorist benefits, and upon filing a claim with the insurance company, was unfairly denied those benefits,” added Terence Traverso, lead trial lawyer in the case. “In the end, our firm was able to not only gain those benefits for our client, but due to GEICO’s violations of the law, help our client secure additional compensation for the frustration and humiliation the insurer’s actions caused him. The jury and trial judge acted to deter such misconduct, sending a clear message to insurers who don’t keep their promises and pay benefits owed, that those insurers will pay much more in the end. Ultimately, justice was served in this case.”