Middlesex Superior Court awards double damages against an insurance company who improperly defended a claim for bodily injury benefits in a pedrestrian accident

In a recent decision by the Middlesex Superior court of Massachusetts, a Judge found an insurance company violated the law and failed to effectuate a prompt settlement of a pedestrian bus accident case and ultimately awarded over $7,000,000.00 in damages to the plaintiff.  The case involved a plaintiff who was crossing the street in a crosswalk and was hit by a bus in Boston MA and operated by an employee of Partners Healthcare.  The individual sustained substantial injuries including a traumatic brain injury.  See Odin Anderson & Others v. American International Group, Inc. & Others.  The court stated the case presented a disturbing tale of irresponsible and overly aggressive defense work causing the plaintiff’s to participate in a lengthy hard fought trial of their personal injury claim.

Immediately after the accident, he defendant insurance company assigned a claims adjuster to investigate the claim and interviewed the bus driver.  The bus driver said he never saw the plaintiff before the accident and was to the right and not straight ahead.  Furthermore, the bus driver said he did not know where the plaintiff came from and said he did not make any attempt to avoid the impact.  Based on the statements, the insurance company’s claims adjuster determined the insurance company had “no viable liability defense”.

Once the Plaintiff’s attorney became involved in the case and a 5 million dollar demand was made, there was a flurry of activity by the defendant insurance company and their attorneys.  In fact, the insurance company aggressively defended the lawsuit and did not make any offers to settle until the day of trial.  The case was ultimately tried to conclusion and a plaintiff’s verdict was rendered.

During the course of discovery, the defendants failed to inform the plaintiff’s about their initial investigation showing their insured bus driver would likely be found at fault for the accident.  The court found the defendants suppressed the results of the initial investigation of the accident, created an alternate scenario based upon made up facts and improperly manipulated the testimony of critical witnesses.  The court found the defendants employed highly improper defense tactics and were dishonest.

After the favorable plaintiff’s verdict, the trial judge told the defense counsel there was no reason to believe they would do any better if the case was retried even if they were successful in having the appellate court order a new trial.  Despite the views of the trial judge, defense counsel elected to appeal the Jury’s verdict, which caused an additional five years of litigation.  The appeals court affirmed the judgment and then Defense counsel filed an application for further appellate review with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.  The Supreme Judicial Court promptly denied the defendants appeal.

The Massachusetts Superior court then decided in favor of the Plaintiff’s claim for unfair and deceptive practices by the insurance company.  The Court found the Insurance Company failed to conduct a reasonable investigator based on the available evidence, and failed to relay a prompt settlement after liability had become reasonably clear.  The court went so far to say this was an egregious case where the defendants deliberate or callously indifferent acts designed to conceal the truth improperly skew the legal system and deprive the plaintiff of fair compensation for almost a decade.  The court concluded the defendant insurance company’s conduct warranted the maximum available sanction for double damages.

If you or a loved have an injury claim against an insurance company and you feel you are treated improperly, it is important you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Attorney Michael O. Smith to protect your rights.