Posted June 17, 2015 - James R. Gregory, Trial Attorney
Willamette Week reported earlier today that a jury in Portland has awarded a historically large verdict to a Geico customer based on an allegation of improperly handling an automobile insurance claim against him.
The jury found that the insurance giant acted in bad faith when it refused to settle a lawsuit brought against policyholder Cornel Tuter, exposing him to an “excess judgement.” Under Oregon law, an insurance carrier has a duty to protect customers against big verdicts if it can reasonably do so by negotiating a settlement amount under the liability limits in the policy. In Tuter’s case, Geico declined to resolve a claim against him for $100,000, the maximum available under his auto policy. When the case went to trial, a Douglas County jury awarded $330,000 to the person Tuter injured, leaving him on the hook for the additional $230,000.
When Tuter then sued, alleging that Geico violated its duty to him, a jury in Multnomah County agreed, and rendered the multi-million dollar verdict.
We all want to think that the insurers we trust to protect our rights are doing so diligently and with our best interests in mind, but this case proves that some carriers are willing to roll the dice with your financial future. If you feel you have been treated unfairly by an insurance company, contact us today for a free consultation.