UIM and Bad Faith Claims Can Be Litigated Together

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2009 PA Superior Court written opinion permitted a car accident victim to continue her lawsuit against the Hartford Insurance Company for a Pennsylvania underinsured motorist (UIM) claim, as well as a bad-faith claim.  The young woman was hit by a negligent driver and settled that personal injury case for $85,000.00.  Her PA underinsured motorist attorney gave the Hartford a $100,000.00 credit for the tortfeasor’s policy limit and demanded payment of her $100,000.00 UIM coverage limit.

When the parties couldn’t settle the UIM claim, the Pennsylvania underinsured motorist lawyer filed a suit v. Hartford.  He first alleged breach of contract due to their failure to offer the UIM policy limit.  A separate legal claim of bad faith was alleged over the insurance company’s handling of the underinsured motorist claim.  The Hartford’s attorneys filed a motion to separate the 2 claims and to put the bad faith claim on hold until after a decision was reached on the value of the underinsured motorist case.

The Allegheny County Trial Judge ruled that discovery and litigation on both claims should move forward.  The PA Superior Court agreed with the lower court that the best use of judicial resources would occur if the same judge presided over both the underinsured motorist jury trial and the non-jury bad faith trial that could potentially follow.  Gunn v. Auto Ins. Co. Hartford Conn., 971 A.2d 505 (Pa. Super 2009)