The recent car accident case of GEICO v. Insurer before a Florida appellate court may not have any direct bearing on plaintiffs here in North Carolina, but the issues raised are highly relevant.
The case involves an 83-year-old driver with minimal insurance who was legally blind when he injured two pedestrians and then later lied about it under oath prior to trial. The man's doctors had told him he shouldn't be driving, and he concealed this fact as well.
The plaintiffs later sued when, after receiving the full $20,000 policy limit, the insurance company refused to pay anything more toward mounting medical expenses. The question became whether the insurance company should have to pay sanctions imposed by the court against the driver/defendant for the falsehoods he provided under oath. Per the state's laws on civil claims administrations, the insurer only had 30 days in which to issue a reservation of rights, asserting coverage might be withheld due to defendant's misrepresentations. Instead, the company waited nearly a year to do so, by which point the insured had died (of unrelated causes) and the hearing against his estate was slated for just days later.
Our Greensboro car accident attorneys understand the injured plaintiffs were granted leave to seek punitive damages (reserved for cases in which the at-fault party displayed reckless disregard for the safety and well-being of others). The court also imposed a $27,000 fine for costs and attorneys' fees. The insurer argued it shouldn't have to pay because the insured lied under oath about his condition, which was a violation of the terms of his policy.