Articles Posted in INSURANCE – BAD FAITH

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Posted by H. Lee Pruett

As defense counsel hired by insurance companies to represent their insureds, we are loath to bite the hand that feeds us. Yet that is exactly what it feels like when a plaintiff makes a demand within the liability policy limits and counsel must inform the insured of the bad faith claim they may bring against the insurance company if the company refuses to settle and a subsequent judgment exceeds the limits. What is “bad faith” in this context? And from where does this troubling duty to inform the insured spring?
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Posted by Jonathan A. Barash

In a unanimous decision written by new Georgia Supreme Court Justice David E. Nahmias, the Court sent a message to liability insurers this week that even an offer to pay policy limits may not necessarily shield the company from a bad faith claim. In Fortner v. Grange Mut. Ins. Co., the Court reiterated that the true question is still whether the insurance company acted reasonably in its response to the settlement offer.
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Posted by Susan J. Levy

Anthony and Joshua Fowler were killed when a billboard manufactured by Phoenix Outdoor, LLC and owned by Trinity Outdoor, LLC fell while it was being installed on Trinity’s property. Lawsuits were filed and, eventually, the following legal question was posed to the Georgia Supreme Court: Whether a judgment entered against an insured in excess of policy limits is a prerequisite for bringing an action against the insurer for the negligent or bad faith failure to settle. In Trinity Outdoor, LLC v. Central Mutual Insurance Company, 2009 Ga. LEXIS 280 (Jun. 1, 2009), the Georgia Supreme Court answered in the affirmative.
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Posted by Susan J. Levy

Most jurisdictions agree that a first party insurer reasonably handling an insured’s claim will not be liable for bad faith as long as it has a “legitimate, arguable or fairly debatable reason for denying (or delaying payment) of a claim.” Patrick J. Brighton and Ronald J. Clark, Preventive Measures to Avoid or Minimize Bad Faith Risks, DRI Presentation – Insurance Bad Faith (June, 2007).
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