Last year, Judge Jeffrey K Sprecher awarded $18 million in punitive damages to the plaintiffs in Berg v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance. Not surprisingly, Nationwide is trying to appeal the decision. In response to the appeal, the Judge asked the Superior Court to reject the appeal and cited various examples of the company’s bad faith practices. The Legal Intelligencer recently reported on the story.
16 Years of Litigation
The multi-million dollar award came after nearly 16 years of litigation. Nationwide was found to have engaged in what was described as a “scorched earth” strategy for handling small claims. These aren’t large expensive accident claims we’re talking about. They were pulling out the big guns to fight their own policyholders to avoid handling even small claim cases in good faith. The initial case involved a damaged 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee that, on initial appraisal, was found to have a totally twisted and irreparable frame. Instead of totaling the vehicle out, like one appraiser advised, Nationwide knowingly returned the damaged Jeep back to the Bergs.
Nationwide’s War on Their Own Policyholders
Nationwide’s handling of this and many other cases involving small claims has been overly aggressive, time and again. They’ve been strong-arming their own policyholders into taking inadequate settlements or being left with damaged vehicles. When you faithfully pay your insurance premiums, you expect for your insurance company to have your back in the event of an accident. The last thing you want is to be bullied into not having your car repaired or taking an inadequate settlement on your claim.
What to do After a Car Accident in San Francisco
Unfortunately, insurance companies are usually looking out for their own bottom line. If they can deny or delay claims, they can increase shareholder profits. Nobody plans on fighting their own insurance company for the benefits they paid for, but it happens more often than you might think. The insurance companies will have a team of lawyers on their side, and so should you.
If you have been injured in a car accident in San Francisco or San Jose, contact the experienced attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP at 888.777.1776 for a free case consultation.