How Allstate’s Battle Changed Case Law to Better Protect Insureds
In March of last year, a legal battle between Ana Fortson-Kemmerer and Allstate Insurance Company that had lasted over a decade finally saw a bit of victory as a court ruling entered into case law to help future insured individuals be compensated fairly after dealing with insurance companies acting in bad faith.
The Allstate Case
In 2006, Fortson-Kemmerer was involved in a collision with a motorist who fled the scene. He was driving a flatbed truck when he ran a red light and rear-ended Fortson-Kemmerer, causing a neck injury that needed 8 months of physical therapy and left her with continuing, chronic pain.
Motorist Wasn’t Identified
The motorist was not able to be identified and he was presumed to be uninsured, so like all people who are in a car accident, Fortson-Kemmerer filed a claim with her insurance company at the time, Allstate.
With her policy having UIM coverage, Fortson-Kemmerer did not think it would be an issue getting the $75,000 for medical expenses and vehicle damage paid. After all, she had never made a late payment.
Are You Really In Good Hands?
Allstate offered $9,978, which Fortson-Kemmerer declined. A medical review was requested and Fortson-Kemmerer was again offered the same amount. She stated, “It was very shocking to me.
Their whole stance is, ‘You are in good hands.’ I never made a late payment. They said, ‘We’ll take care of you.’ But when I needed them, they weren’t there. Instead, they gave me offers that were insulting.”
Fair Insurance Claim Payout
In May of 2011, Fortson-Kemmerer filed a lawsuit that sought to not only obtain the full amount of her original claim, but also damages under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act. In 2012, the case went into arbitration and Fortson-Kemmerer was awarded $44,151.
However, Allstate informed her that the arbitration ruling would be appealed if she didn’t accept a $25,000 settlement offer and drop the case. Again, Fortson-Kemmerer declined.
A Payout and New Case Law
Allstate did finally pay the $44,151, but most of this amount went to pay for attorney’s fees that were the result of an extended legal battle. Although a lower court dismissed her case, an appeal was successful.
Division III Court reversed their decision, enabling Fortson-Kemmerer to seek a ruling that would effectively force Allstate to cover her up to three times the cost of her vehicle damage and medical bills, as well as all of her legal fees.
Collaboration Between The Attorneys
Thanks to a collaboration between Fortson-Kemmerer’s attorney and attorneys Matt Albrecht and George Ahrend, judges will now be required to look at two factors when evaluating insurance bad faith cases — what does the insurance company owe the insured and do they also have the burden of paying damages for unfairly trying to avoid paying what they owed?
Contact our expert Spokane insurance denial attorneys today for a free consultation.