Jury awards woman 124k in a case against her uninsured motorist coverage with Geico
Valencia Swift was traveling in the third lane from the right on Interstate 285 northbound near Chamblee Tucker Road and Buford Highway when an unknown driver swerved and struck a 2005 Buick LaCrosse. The Buick struck Ms. Swift’s car, which rolled over three to four times before coming to rest in a guard rail.
Ms. Swift, who was 60-years-old at the time of the wreck was hospitalized for four days with a concussion and two broken ribs. She suffered post-concussion syndrome for several weeks, walked with a walker, and lost memory capacity and focus.
Unfortunately, the at-fault driver was never identified. Therefore, Ms. Swift’s attorney, Lloyd Hoffspiegel, filed a claim under her uninsured motorist coverage with GEICO seeking the policy limits of $100,000. GEICO responded with a counter offer of only $70,000 to settle Ms. Swift’s claim, which she declined.
Two weeks before trial, GEICO increased their offer to $100,000, but Hoffspiegel again declined as he was confident a jury would return a verdict in excess of the policy limit and the bad faith claim could be brought.
“It was a calculated risk on our part, but we thought we had a strong case with good witnesses,” Hoffspiegel said.
The case proceeded to trial and a DeKalb County jury entered a verdict against GEICO for $124,000 ($85,000 for Swift’s pain and suffering and $39,000 for her expenses).
The Oct. 16 verdict was reduced to plaintiff Valencia Swift’s $100,000 policy limit, but she will have the option to pursue a bad faith claim worth 25 percent of the judgment-$25,000-plus her attorney fees because GEICO failed to settle, Hoffspiegel said.
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