Car Accident Victim Receives $1.2 Million After Refusing $50,000 Offer

Home | Car Accident Victim Receives $1.2 Million After Refusing $50,000 Offer

A recent case raised important questions about uninsured motorists when a court awarded a plaintiff who was in a collision $1.2 million after she refused her insurance company’s $50,000 settlement offer.

Gerri Koch’s Collision

On April 4, 2013, Gerri Koch was rear-ended by Kewin Montes-Quintero at Bergen Community College. Koch was insured by Allstate whereas Montes-Quintero was uninsured. As a result of the accident, Koch suffered permanent neck and spine injuries. Instead of accepting the $50,000 Allstate offered to settle the claim, Koch’s attorneys, Andy Fraser and Will Thayer, filed a lawsuit against Allstate.   The jury ruled in favor of Koch’s car accident attorneys, awarding her $1.2 million.

Why Gerri Koch Sued Her Own Insurance Company

There are several legal reasons that Gerri Koch sued her own insurance company. These include:

  • Insurers must provide fair compensation for losses under their policies
  • Insurers are prohibited from acting in “bad faith” in regards to insurance claims
  • The “fairly debatable” standard allows compensation for bad faith denials

When a motorist has an insurance policy, the insurer is contractually obligated to provide fair compensation for losses. In the Koch case, the plaintiff suffered damages to her vehicle as well as injuries to her neck and spine. Both damages to her vehicle and physical injuries are covered under her policy, entitling her to compensation. Insurance companies are also prohibited from acting in bad faith in regards to insurance claims: an insurer acts in bad faith if they unfairly deny or delay payments for injuries and damages that are covered under the insured’s policy.

Under the “fairly debatable” standard in New Jersey, an insurer can be held liable for bad faith in denying a claim if the denial lacked any reasonable basis. In the Koch case, after the plaintiff denied the $50,000 settlement, the defense attorneys argued that she was not entitled to recover any compensation, despite damage to her vehicle and injuries to her neck and spine. Allstate’s refusal to offer fair compensation was an act of bad faith and under the fairly debatable standard, Koch could recover for her losses and injuries.

The Importance of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage provides car accident compensation if you are injured by an at-fault driver who does not have insurance at all or lacks sufficient insurance to fully compensate you for the extent of your damages. According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers who are at fault in a collision do not have insurance. It is extremely important to have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in case of an accident or injury. If you are in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and do not have coverage, your only recourse is to attempt to recover damages from the driver personally. Often, the driver does not have any assets from which you can recover, leaving you without legal recourse to recover the damages you incurred. Uninsured motorist coverage allows you to recover for:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages

Filing a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage does not cause your insurance premiums to go up. Driving without insurance is a gamble that could have far-reaching financial consequences. Click here for more about our car accident lawyers.

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About The Author

Attorney Tim Ryan, author of "The Personal Injury Victim's Bible", has assisted thousands of injury victims, obtaining more than $1 billion for his clients collectively since 1981.

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