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Court Rules on Bad Faith Issues in Jointly Filed Third Party and PIP Claim Against Tortfeasor's Insurer

Posted Scott B. Cooper on Jul 11, 2012 in General

In Platt v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., NO. 11-4067 ( E.D. Pa. May 22, 2012) (mem.) the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania deals with an uninsured pedestrian filing a third-party claim and PIP claim against tortfeasor’s insurer.  The District Court holds that bad faith may extend to insurer’s investigative practices and the insurer’s delay in investigating plaintiff’s eligibility for PIP benefits may amount to bad faith. 

The Court also finds that the plaintiff has standing to bring a bad faith claim against tortfeasor’s insurer based on insurer’s handling of plaintiff’s PIP claim. Although it notes that the defendant’s delay in paying full wage loss benefits was due to the need for additional information, it did not amount to bad faith. Also, the defendant acknowledged a mistake of deducting the amount of disability benefits received from another policy from the PIP wage loss pay out which was not bad faith.

In finding that the defendant did not breach the insurance contract because it paid the policy’s PIP limits the court notes that §1798 prohibits contingency fee arrangements for first-party benefit claims but there is nothing in the statute that states an insured forfeits the right to recover attorney fees as a penalty for such an arrangement.

For a copy of the memorandum opinion contact Scott Cooper at Schmidt Kramer Injury Lawyers in Harrisburg.