The Georgia Court of Appeals Hands Victory to Insurer in Bad Faith Case

The Georgia Court of Appeals handed another victory to an insurer in a bad-faith case against an underinsured motorist carrier. The plaintiff, who incurred approximately $16,500 in medical expenses in an auto accident, sought $25,000 in UM benefits after securing a $25,000 settlement from the at-fault driver’s liability policy. The carrier evaluated the plaintiff’s claim at a maximum of $26,500 – to be offset by the $25,000 settlement – and offered $750. The plaintiff was ultimately awarded over $100,000 at trial and then filed suit against her UM carrier, alleging bad faith failure to settle. Craig Terrett of Cruser Mitchell filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the ground that the carrier’s failure to settle was based upon a bona fide dispute as to the value of the claim, which the trial court granted. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment, finding that the insurer’s refusal to pay the UM limits of $25,000 was not frivolous or unfounded to warrant bad faith penalties under OCGA § 33-7-11(j).

Court of Appeals Decision