Appellate Court Permits Plaintiff’s “Bad Faith” Claim Against Insurance Company to Proceed Toward Trial

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Oklahoma issued a written opinion in a car accident case brought by a passenger who was involved in an accident against the driver’s insurance company. Specifically, the court had to determine if the lower court was proper in granting the defendant’s motions for summary judgment based on the fact that it did not act in bad faith when it questioned the reasonableness of the medical care the plaintiff received.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was injured in a car accident while a passenger in her mother’s car. According to the facts as described in the appellate opinion, a driver ran through a stop sign and struck the plaintiff’s mother’s vehicle. After the accident, the plaintiff was taken to the hospital. She was initially taken to the emergency room, and then was transferred to the “L2 trauma center.” She was discharged four hours later with a cervical collar, but was not provided a prescription for pain medication. The plaintiff continued to receive outpatient treatment for her injuries.

The plaintiff later filed a claim under the uninsured/underinsured motorist provision of her mother’s insurance policy. She requested a total of roughly $67,000. Of that sum, $24,420 was incurred from the treatment that the plaintiff received at the L2 trauma center. The insurance company denied coverage for any charges arising from treatment in the L2 trauma center, claiming that such treatment was unnecessary. In support of its position, the insurance company consulted with an expert who stated that the plaintiff did not need to be transferred to the L2 trauma center.

Over three years after the accident, and after over a year of negotiations, the plaintiff filed a bad-faith claim against the insurance company. Specifically, her claim was that the insurance company was acting in bad faith when it refused to cover the costs of treatment at the L2 trauma center. At this point, the insurance company offered $100,000 to settle the case, which the plaintiff rejected. The court hearing the case initially granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court, finding that summary judgment was improper and a jury should be permitted to determine if the insurance company acted in bad faith. The court explained that there was sufficient evidence to prove a bad-faith claim against the insurance company, given that the company refused to pay for over a year and then, once a lawsuit was filed, offered to pay over the requested amount. Importantly, the court was not deciding whether the insurance company acted in bad faith, only that the jury should be given the opportunity to make the decision.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Maryland car accident, you will almost certainly have to deal with an insurance company before you receive any compensation for your injuries. As the above case illustrates, insurance companies can be extremely difficult to work with, and routinely deny coverage for treatment. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in all types of personal injury proceedings, including those against insurance companies. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case Dismissed Due to Lack of Causation Evidence, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 22, 2017.

Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases Are Subject to Different Procedural Requirements, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 6, 2017.

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