Petrillo & Goldberg Law Blog

Insurance companies must act in good faith to resolve a personal injury claim

One often hears of the terms “good faith” or, conversely, “bad faith” in connection with business practices. The latter is certainly something that an insurance company never wants to be accused of during a personal injury lawsuit. But that is exactly what State Farm Insurance was facing in a recent case involving a 2012 motor vehicle accident in which Philadelphia resident and State Farm policyholder Anna Pasqualino claimed that the company acted in bad faith after she was injured in the collision by an uninsured motorist.

Pasqualino, whose lawsuit stated that she suffered, among other injuries, permanent damage to her spine, submitted her medical records to the insurance company on January 8, 2014, seeking settlement of her uninsured motorist claim per her coverage. After ongoing treatment, Pasqualino’s attorney presented additional medical records to State Farm on September 26, 2014. Nonetheless, the carrier refused to offer Pasqualino any more than $12,000.

Pasqualino filed suit against State Farm in January of this year, saying that it breached its insurance policy coverage contract with her. In addition, she claimed that the insurance company acted in bad faith in not seeking a “fair, prompt and equitable” settlement to the matter.

A U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania judge on May 28, however, ruled in favor of State Farm on the bad faith claim. The judge, Ronald L. Buckwalter, stated that in order for a plaintiff to prove a bad faith claim, he or she must prove two things: that the insurer “lacked a reasonable basis for denying benefits and knew or recklessly disregarded its lack of a reasonable basis.”

A bad faith claim is an example of the causes of action that an attorney can bring on behalf of plaintiff against a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to properly assess the range of claims that should be filed in his or her client’s case.