Massachusetts Company Discusses Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Allegations against Insurer in Car Accident Injury Claim

Auto insurance can come in handy when you are involved in an accident, but only if your insurer treats your claim fairly and provides you with the coverage that you deserve. As dedicated Boston car accident lawyers, we have seen countless cases involving insurance companies who refuse to provide their insureds with the response that the insured is owed based on the provisions in the policy. If you were injured in a car accident, we are standing by and ready to assist you with all aspects of your claim, including ensuring that your insurer plays by the rules.

Recently, the Court of Appeal considered an appeal in Martin v. Hanover Ins. Co. 92 Mass. App. Ct. 1104 in which the plaintiff, an insured, alleged that her insurance company engaged in unfair claim settlement practices in violation of Massachusetts law. The plaintiff was injured in a car accident where the at-fault driver made a U-turn and struck the plaintiff’s vehicle. The parties did not dispute that the other driver was at fault and the plaintiff received the total policy benefits for the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. The plaintiff then filed a claim for underinsured motorist benefits with her insurer.

The insurer did not provide a settlement offer and the plaintiff filed a civil claim against the insurer demanding arbitration. The complaint also alleged that the insurer engaged in unfair claim settlement practices and that the plaintiff deserved damages as a result. The matter proceeded to arbitration and the arbitrator concluded that the plaintiff was entitled to $50,000 in damages related to the accident. A civil court affirmed this ruling and the parties moved on to litigating the unfair settlement practices claim.

The reviewing court indicated that although the plaintiff provided substantial evidence regarding her damages, the plaintiff did not provide substantial evidence regarding the insurer’s conduct in response to her claim, including evidence about any negotiations that occurred or evidence showing that she had suffered damages as a result of the insurer’s alleged failure to resolve the claim promptly. The lower court ruled in favor of the insurer and dismissed the claim.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the lower court erred when it granted the other party’s request to prevent the insurer from calling three insurance company officials as witnesses during the trial including the insurance company’s president, senior vice president, and a former employee. The plaintiff also challenged the lower court’s denial of the plaintiff’s request for her claim file on the first day of trial.

Regarding the claim file, the court noted that the plaintiff did not seek the file during discovery and noted that the plaintiff engaged in some delay in obtaining the file. Regarding the witnesses, the court of appeal noted that the plaintiff only identified one witness in her answer to discovery requests and that the first witness disclosure containing the president, vice president, and the employee was sent to the defendant only 10 days before trial. Due to the late notice, the court of appeal upheld the lower court’s order. Had the plaintiff demanded the claim file sooner and served the witness disclosures sooner, the outcome would have likely been different for the plaintiff.

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident, contact our seasoned team of Massachusetts legal professionals to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation. We understand how stressful this situation can be for you, especially if you are struggling with serious injuries. Call us now at 617-263-0060 or contact us online.

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