PHILADELPHIA – A passenger injured in a vehicle collision in South Philadelphia three years ago alleges a prominent insurance provider breached its agreement with her by failing to pay underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits.
On May 17, Bettie Leonard of Philadelphia filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas versus AAA Mid-Atlantic Insurance Company, of Wilmington, Del.
On Oct. 7, 2014, Leonard was a rear-seat passenger in a Chevy Equinox SUV owned and driven by Darryl Hardy. Both the vehicle and Hardy were insured with AAA, with a policy that included UIM benefits with a limit of $25,000 per each injured person and occurrence. At all times, Leonard has eligible for recovery of first-party benefits from AAA.
On the day in question, the vehicle Hardy and Leonard were traveling in was stopped at a red light at the intersection of 20th & Christian Streets in South Philadelphia, when another vehicle driven by John Jaquill rear-ended them.
Jaquill was inured with Progressive Insurance Company under a policy which provided only $15,000 in liability coverage to him for injuries to others resulting from his negligent operation of his vehicle.
Leonard was taken to the emergency room of Hahnemann University Hospital where she was evaluated for neck, shoulder, back and hip injuries, and was ultimately diagnosed through an MRI with a C2-C3 disc herniation, C6-C7 disc herniation with stenosis and multiple disc bulges at multiple levels. Further, Leonard soon developed worsening left knee pain aggravated by the accident, which resulted in a total left knee replacement.
In response to the medical expenses Leonard undertook, a lawsuit was filed against Jaquill and Progressive tendered the full limit of his policy, $15,000.
Per the AAA policy, Leonard was required to obtain AAA’s consent before settling her claim with Jaquill. On June 2, 2016, AAA representative Carrie Kidd notified Leonard the company was waiving its subrogation against Jaquill and authorized Leonard to accept settlement – which she did, for $15,000, the maximum limit of Jaquill’s coverage.
As her medical costs exceeded $15,000, the UIM coverage under the AAA policy was obligated to cover the difference and Leonard applied for the full limit of the AAA policy, $25,000. In making her case, Leonard provided AAA with all copies of her medical records.
The plaintiff believes AAA has failed and refused to make a reasonable settlement offer to pay her the value of her recoverable damages under its policy, something she says was done without basis in law or fact.
For counts of underinsured motorist benefits, breach of warranty, the duty of good faith and fair dealing and bad faith, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 but less than the federal jurisdictional requirement, inclusive of attorney’s fees, treble and punitive damages and other relief the Court deems just and appropriate in this matter.
The plaintiff is represented by Todd B. Jacobs and Anthony J. Comerota of the Law Offices of Todd B. Jacobs, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170502574
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org