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$2.7 million awarded to woman in uninsured driver case

A Montana federal jury awarded a woman $2.7 million in damages after an insurance company did not agree to pay a claim on her insurance policy. The woman filed the claim after her husband was killed by an uninsured driver who was under the influence of drugs.

When the grieving woman submitted her insurance claim to GEICO, the company offered to pay only half of what was owed under her policy. The payment, according to GEICO, was also conditional upon the woman's signing a release form. When she refused to sign the form, GEICO refused to pay any amount that was owed to her under the policy.

In December 2013, the judge presiding over the case decided that GEICO broke Montana law by requiring the woman to sign a release, and that this also breached the insurance policy itself. The company claimed that although it breached the contract, it acted in good faith. A jury felt differently and awarded the widow $2.5 million and $200,000 in both punitive and contract damages, respectively.

It can be extremely difficult to deal with an injury from a motor vehicle accident when an uninsured motorist is involved. Dealing with an insurance company that doesn't want to pay compensation to a victim or a victim's loved one can only make matters worse. No one should have to deal with the added stress of fighting with an insurance company that refuses to pay after a valid claim is presented.

Unfortunately, in many cases, injured drivers or their loved ones have to take legal action in order to hold insurance companies accountable.

Source: The National Trial Lawyers, "Montana jury awards $2.5 million punitive damages against GEICO," Larry Bodine, March 5, 2014

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