Progressive Denies Defending Driver Who Killed Policyholder In Crash

UPDATE: The victim’s brother has issued a rebuttal to Progressive’s statement. It has been added to the bottom of the post.

Yesterday, the brother of a woman who died in a car crash made headlines when he wrote that lawyers for his late sister’s insurance company, Progressive, had acted as the defense counsel for the driver accused of causing the accident. At the time, we had asked the insurer to clarify its actual involvement in the case, but it only offered a vague “our hearts go out”-type statement. But now Progressive is flat-out denying it came to the defense of the at-fault driver.

In a statement posted on the Progressive website, the company explains:

I’d like to take this opportunity to explain Progressive’s role in this complex case. First and foremost, our deepest sympathies go out to Kaitlynn Fisher’s family.

To be very clear, Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case. He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide.

There was a question as to who was at fault, and a jury decided in the Fisher family’s favor just last week. We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution.

According to court documents, a jury found in favor of the victim’s family and awarded $760,000 in damages plus costs.

What the statement doesn’t mention is that Progressive was also a defendant in the lawsuit filed by the victim’s parents. It also doesn’t explain why it filed a substitution of service request, which would allow Progressive’s attorneys to act on behalf of the other defendant. We will continue to ask Progressive for clarification.

In response to Progressive’s comments, the victim’s brother has e-mailed the following statement to Consumerist:

Today, in response to my blog post entitled “My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court,” Progressive released a statement saying that ”Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant” in my sister’s case. I am not a lawyer, but this is what I observed in the courtroom during my sister’s trial:

At the beginning of the trial on Monday, August 6th, an attorney identified himself as Jeffrey R. Moff[e]t and stated that he worked for Progressive Advanced Insurance Company. He then sat next to the defendant. During the trial, both in and out of the courtroom, he conferred with the defendant. He gave an opening statement to the jury, in which he proposed the idea that the defendant should not be found negligent in the case. He cross-examined all of the plaintiff’s witnesses. On direct examination, he questioned all of the defense’s witnesses. He made objections on behalf of the defendant, and he was a party to the argument of all of the objections heard in the case. After all of the witnesses had been called, he stood before the jury and gave a closing argument, in which he argued that my sister was responsible for the accident that killed her, and that the jury should not decide that the defendant was negligent.

I am comfortable characterizing this as a legal defense.

I wrote about this case on my blog because I felt that, in the wake of my sister’s death, Progressive had sought out ways to meet their strict legal obligation while still disrespecting my sister’s memory and causing my family a world of hurt. Their statement disavowing their role in this case, a case in which their attorney stood before my sister’s jury and argued on behalf of her killer, is simply infuriating.

Comments

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  1. snarfies says:

    Maybe you should stop bugging the poor victim’s brother, yeah? Aside from the fact he probably doesn’t want to talk about it, he may not legally be allowed to talk about it. Maybe contact his attorney.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      The brother is the one who brought it to our attention. Please go read the original article.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Or this one: “brother of a woman who died in a car crash made headlines when he wrote that”

        “[H]e wrote that…”

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Spilling this on the internetz was a good move on his part to shed light on this hairy bastard of a policy. He’s being contacted by many sites right now, his nonreply with Consumerist probably isn’t out of annoyance.

      • Chris Morran says:

        Yes, my apologies if I made it seem like the brother is avoiding us. He has expressed interest in speaking to Consumerist but has mentioned that he is also overwhelmed with requests from media. I’m adding a clarification to the end of the story.

    • anime_runs_my_life says:

      Another fail at reading the original article. Wow..

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sounds like Progressive is trying to hide all the details. I don’t buy it.

    • nishioka says:

      Just the ones that make them look bad.

    • euph_22 says:

      It sounds like they’re being sued, and want to put up a defense. Because they are being sued, and are putting up a defense. Since both insurance companies are being sued, it’s pretty clear who was at fault, and this is really all about getting progressive to pay more, they decided to have one person speak for the defense.

      I feel bad for the family, and i definitely fault progressive for not being more upfront about what was going on. But when you sure somebody, it’s rather unfair to be upset when they mount a defense.

      • pagoff says:

        Really?

        • RogerX says:

          I kind of think he has a point. “Progressive had sought out ways to meet their strict legal obligation while still disrespecting my sister’s memory and causing my family a world of hurt.”

          Progressive as a company is in the business of providing insurance according to very specific terms in a policy. If there are policy disputes, the company is called to court, which is costly, and has to pay their counsel to defend why they have met their obligations under the policy contract. If my reading of the details here and elsewhere is correct, the woman’s family sued Progressive as well as the negligent party’s insurer, so they invited Progressive to be a part of the defense. “We’re sorry this other company’s policyholder killed our policyholder, here’s a half a million bucks” is a quick way to bankruptcy, so I can understand why they were there. I feel for this guy in his grief (I’ve lost a brother), but running a PR campaign against Progressive for “disrespecting the family” sounds like less-than-classy behavior designed to turn a contract dispute into an emotional issue.

          • souljacker8888 says:

            not really. Everybody by law pays an insurance company like Progressive a fee to cover them in case of an accident. Many times we pay more for higher coverage. We pay extra for higher monetary coverage in case a situation like this arise.

            What happens in an accident is these companies that we by law are forced to pay into will then do everything they can to pay the bare minimum back. We pay extra for say 1 million dollars of coverage so that in case we are killed our families or those dependent on us will be covered financially. We pay them monthly for that peace of mind and protection.

            What happens when an accident does happen? These insurance companies do everything in their power to NOT pay out on the policy we pay in for. They offer the bare minimum they can, almost always LESS than hospital bills, less than lost wages, less than anything to reasonably cover us. We who paid them to cover us in such events.

            They offer LESS even when they have a hospital bill sitting in front of them saying it cost X amount to keep you alive or heal to heal you. They offer less than X.

            They will delay, delay, delay until you cant afford to fight them any more, they defend the other party, they will defame their own customer and they will do just about anything to pay the bare minimum. They will do their very best to force you into accepting, most times, LESS than what is reasonable to cover your lost wages, medical bills, etc…

            They to this to their customers, TO PEOPLE IN HORRIBLE SITUATIONS daily.

            So, no, a ‘PR Campaign’ is not the ‘less-than-classy’ behavior. The tactics and BEYOND disrespectful treatment of people by these companies is…

    • nickmoss says:

      All the details are here. Case # 24C11002185
      http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp

      • ChuckLez says:

        Or more specifically: http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiryDetail.jis?caseId=24C11002185&detailLoc=CC
        (hopefully it shows up fine)

        Very nice information. Important details:
        - Progressive is listed as an Interested Party (NOT defendant initially)
        - Progressive files motion to intervene as a defendant, as noted:
        It is this 19th day of May, 2011, by the Circuit Court For Baltimore City, hereby ORDERED

        1. That Progressive Advance Insurance Company be and is hereby allowed to intervene as a party Defendant.

        2. That Progressive Insurance Company is GRANTED all rights to participate in this proceeding as if it were an original party to this case.

        Cheeky move Progressive.

    • ahecht says:

      “Trying to hide” sounds about right. Progressive didn’t technically lie, but they were very, very misleading. According to the court documents, Progressive didn’t “serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case.” No, Progressive actually inserted themselves as a co-defendant alongside Mr. Hope (who was driving the car that ran the red light). It’s a valid distinction, but they left a crucial detail out of their statement.

      • euph_22 says:

        According to Maryland law, you can’t sue either insurance company directly, you can only sue the driver and the insurance companies are responsible for paying out the damages (up to the policy limits).

        If i sued somebody else, but the judgment was going to come out of your pocket, wouldn’t you hire a lawyer to defend yourself?

        Agree that progressive sucks at explaining what is going on, but what they actually DID is not unreasonable for somebody your suing.

        • limericki says:

          actually, that you sue the driver and the registered owner of the vehicle is the law (i can’t speak for all localities…) the insurance company is there or not depending on if a policy is in place binding them to ‘protect’ the clients they insure. there can be some ‘apparent chicanery’ going on (legal manuvering/posturing) depending on the facts of the case and the insurance company’s being in the business of not paying adjudicated claims, but then that’s why bad faith claims can really pinch the insurance companys in the behind for their fraudulent actions…

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      With the brother’s updated rebuttal (posted 8/15/12) either A) The brother is a bald-faced liar, or B) Progressive defended the killer of their own customer.

      Unless I hear new information, Progressive lost a customer for life.

      • euph_22 says:

        If i sued somebody else, but the judgment was going to come out if your pocket, wouldn’t you want to have a lawyer in the courtroom?

      • RogerX says:

        The family sued Progressive. Progressive was a party to the defense. They didn’t just show up to defend a negligent driver who killed someone on a whim. It’s hard to defend yourself over money when the issue is being made into an emotional one. I don’t have Progressive insurance, but it’s hard to blame them here, other than their shitty evasive PR.

        • Krazed says:

          The family didn’t sue Progressive. The state in which the accident took place has laws preventing people from suing insurance companies. But Progressive was withholding payment on the insurance claim on the grounds that negligence couldn’t be proven. So the family sued the driver to prove negligence so that Progressive would have to pay out the insurance claim. In an attempt to further avoid paying out the claim, Progressive then defending the driver who was ultimately at fault for the death.

          This is my understanding of the situation so far. I can see how people could argue that defending the person who caused the death of one of their policy holders is in their best interest (if they could have prevented the driver from being found negligent they wouldn’t have to pay the claim) but I think it’s safe to say that everyone agrees it’s a very sleazy thing to do.

          • RogerX says:

            The entire industry of for-profit insurance — health, auto, or otherwise — is sleazy. It’s baked into the numbers required to make money.

  3. crispyduck13 says:

    I just continue to be stunned that this had to go to court. Court with a jury. To determine who was at fault for some asshole killing the person in the car who he hit because HE RAN A RED LIGHT. What a colossal waste of everyone’s time and money. Since the guy’s insurance company already paid out whatever paltry sum his policy allowed for isn’t that already an admission of his fault?

    Jesus, they arbitrate every other detail of everything, why not this? Hell, take it to a district judge for that matter.

    • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

      Wasn’t just determining who was at fault, was determining damages.

    • Marlin says:

      Its a Maryland thing. If you are even 1% at fault you get nothing. Also you can;t sue the insurance company only the other person.

      • nickmoss says:

        Not just a Maryland thing. Maryland is one of five jurisdictions in the United States (along with Virginia, Washington D.C., Alabama, and North Carolina) that continues the continues to use contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence.

        • nbs2 says:

          I don’t know why I always forget NC on that list.

          I never bothered with litigation after law school, but I don’t see how contributory negligence would be a problem here – shouldn’t last clear chance apply? Since the killer in this case was the one who did the hitting, he had the last clear chance to avoid the accident, protecting the sister from any claim of contribution. At least, that was how the theory played out in my head for all of the one semester that I took of Torts.

    • Tribune says:

      “Since the guy’s insurance company already paid out whatever paltry sum his policy allowed for isn’t that already an admission of his fault?”

      Actually, it isn’t an admission of fault .. and that is generally A Good Thing. The red light runner’s insurance company honored its full policy limits without putting itself or the victim’s family through the expense of litigating ‘fault’.

      The problem is the perverse moral hazard of uninsured/underinsured coverages whereby the victim’s premiums subsidize a legal defense aimed at legally denying her claim. (Here, Maryland’s unalloyed doctrine of “contributory negligence” makes it worse, but the moral hazard is inherent to the entire business).

    • JJFIII says:

      Maybe you are unaware of this, BUT insurance companies do NOT have final say in fault. They are not the decision maker. If that were the case nobody would ever get what they deserved from insurance or anybody else. Progressive was being SUED by this man. Why shouldnt they have an attorney.
      The fact is, this guy made the statement, they are more pissed at Progressive (which can only give them money) than they are at the driver who killed his sister. I think that sums it up for this family. The insurance money is more important to them.

      • Moo Strength says:

        I generally only read the comments, and rarely post a response….but your comment above that insinuates that the victims family cares more about money then the loss of a sibling. I have no earthly idea how you could write something so idiotic and completely insensitive. You seem willing to sum up the stance that the victims family only wants to get paid. By that same logic, I think your response to this scenario sum’s up the fact that you’re an insensitive bastard.

      • Snapdragon says:

        “Progressive was being SUED by this man. Why shouldnt they have an attorney.”

        Read the other comments. In that state it is not POSSIBLE to sue the insurance company. Progressive had nothing to defend in court.

        • euph_22 says:

          If someone filed a lawsuit against somebody else, where YOU were responsible for paying the damages, you would probably say that you were being sued.

          Progressive most definitely has something to defend, because this case is about the amount off damages progressive pays out.

  4. Golfer Bob says:

    If I understand this correctly:

    1) Guilty driver’s insurance settles
    2) Victim’s family sues guilty driver to establish fault to facilitate additional recovery
    3) Additional recovery is available through victim’s insurance coverage
    4) Victim’s insurance will not settle, victim’s family has to pursue
    3) Victim’s insurance company has to defend itself

    I am not passing judgment AT ALL. Simply trying to make basic sense of this convoluted story.

    • Golfer Bob says:

      *5

    • AcctbyDay says:

      I follow your line of logic, but I think the lawsuit in mention above was Victim’s family suing the guy who ran the red light, not the Victim’s family suing the Victim’s insurance.

      I believe that is the next step AFTER the man who ran the red light is found at fault in court.

      That is what I get from the above story. That being said, it is extremely heinous for Progressive to defend the man who ran the red light. So much so that I will NEVER consider them for my business. Insurance is a slimy business, but this tops it.

      • Golfer Bob says:

        Yes, I am saying the same thing. The victim has additional coverage available through her own policy to protect against insufficient recovery from a guilty driver. The victim’s family tried to access this coverage, but the victim’s insurance company (progressive) denied to voluntarily pay out to victim’s family. The victim’s family then had to go through the guilty driver to reach Progressive and by that connection Progressive became a related defendant.

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          Progressive was never directly sued. First, the guilty driver’s insurance settled. Then the victim’s family tried to access the additional recovery with Progressive. Progressive denied to pay out, stating that negligence wasn’t proven. Then the victim’s family sued the guilty driver and Progressive stepped up to (help) defend the guilty driver, because they didn’t want to pay out.

      • kanenas says:

        “So much so that I will NEVER consider them [Progressive] for my business.”

        What makes you think other insurance companies won’t do the same exact thing? Every insurance company can operate in ways that are totally legal but unethical. Any legal trick they can do to get out of paying a claim, they will do.

    • Badger Tale says:

      That is what it sounds like to me, too. The op’s sister, the victim, was only going to get so much out of their own IC, is that what I am to understand? The IC says, “no,” so gets sued and bounces to the defense side, which makes sense to me, to minimize their liability.

      I agree that this doesn’t look good but the facts play out pretty plainly if what I’ve read about it is correct…but I could be wrong in my understanding of it all.

    • euph_22 says:

      I agree with all of you. I think we can also all agree that progressive had done a crappy job explaining what was going on.

  5. Michael Belisle says:

    This suprisingly useful personal injury lawyer’s website has a good writeup on how uninsured motorist coverage works in Maryland. The TL;DR quote:

    The nuances of how uninsured motorist coverage works is difficult for many personal injury victims to get their minds around because it is counterintuitive. The nutshell is this: if the at-fault driver either does not have insurance or has low levels of coverage, your own insurance company will step in and basically take the place of the insurance company for the at-fault driver, including paying any settlement or judgment but also defending the case against your personal injury claim.

    This is how you end up with bizarre situations like State Farm litigating both sides of the case for a hit-and-run.

    That said, Progressive’s statement is nearly useless. It doesn’t explain or clarify anything, despite being posted under the promising tag “Understanding Insurance.” It starts out good with “I’d like to take this opportunity to explain Progressive’s role in this complex case,” but then does nothing but deny the charges.

    • Crackpot says:

      While this makes sense, it also seems to fit the very definition of “conflict of interest”. How is this allowed?

      • euph_22 says:

        Because insurance companies aren’t your lawyers, they aren’t your representative, they don’t have to act in your interest, just their own.

        Not sure exactly how the state farm versus itself cases work, but both the plaintiff and defendant have separate council and the judge monitors everything to look for collusion.

  6. Paurian says:

    It’s not uncommon for insurance companies to “alter” documents (forging signatures) when death is involved. Those honest enough to shirk that duty don’t stick around. A relative of mine was once asked to forge documents so that the insurance could get around paying several settlements.

    • Paurian says:

      … Point being that if insurance companies are willing to go through such immoral lengths to get around paying up something that people invested their lives into, it wouldn’t surprise me that there are other ways they lie or even work with opposition to reduce their payout.

  7. AzCatz07 says:

    Stay classy, Progressive. This is turning into the PR nightmare you should’ve anticipated in the first place.

    • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

      Why is this a PR nightmare? I see an insurance company advocating for their interests. No surprise there. If I had life insurance with a suicide exception, and there were legitimate debate about whether I committed suicide, I’d be shocked if the insurance company didn’t end up litigating the issue.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        The defendant ran a red light and collided with OP’s sister’s car, causing her death. I doubt that there’s anything legitimate to be debated.

        • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

          1. To what degree was the defendant liable, and did the OP’s sister contribute to the accident?

          2. What are the appropriate damages to be paid?

          • Coleoptera Girl says:

            I see. Both you and JJFlll have reasonable points.

            I suppose a BAC over the limit could indicate that the victim could have stopped in time to avoid the accident, but didn’t… but I honestly think that, unless you’re driving an emergence vehicle with sirens and lights on, you should be liable for 100% of damages done. My opinions are clouding my logic, and I see that now.

        • JJFIII says:

          1. The defendant running the red light is what is being said. That is not fact until a trial
          2. If the victim was not wearing a seat belt or had even the SLIGHTEST bit of fault in causing her own death (texting, BAC of .05, air bags did not work properly) there could be partial fault with her and make the family claim invalid.
          3. How much is the victims family entitled to? Just because you want the maximum you are insured for, does not mean you get it. If they were awarded $760k in damages, and the guilty party’s insurance paid $500k, but the family wanted $400k, then Progressivre and EVERY SINGLE insurance company would do the same thing.

          • nickmoss says:

            In Maryland, not wearing a seat belt cannot be used to show any contributory negligence in an accident.

            • nickmoss says:

              To further clarify: While it may be a crime, a “party, witness, or counsel may not make reference to a seat belt during a trial of a civil action that involves property damage, personal injury, or death if the damage, injury, or death is not related to the design, manufacture, installation, supplying, or repair of a seat belt.” Maryland Transportation Code Annotated. § 22-412.3.

          • mokie says:

            1. The trial’s done and over, the defendant was found completely at fault and Progressive’s been ordered to pay up.

            The blog post that started all this was after-the-fact statement of anger that Progressive tried to shirk paying at all, and suspicion that they’ll continue to stall and try to find ways to avoid paying despite the jury declaring the red light runner at fault.

      • pagoff says:

        As in health insurance, progressive’s fiduciary responsibility is to maximize their own profits, not pay out to beneficiaries. An obvious conflict of interest.

        • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

          You mistook ‘conflict of interest’ for ‘example of how modern insurance works’. You pay an insurance company for coverage, at the highest rate that the market will allow the insco to charge. The insurance company exists to generate profits. It does not exist to serve the public or improve the human condition. Just profit. If it is a publicly traded company, they are *required*, on pain of stockholder lawsuit, to do anything and everything, legal, moral, ethical or not, to generate maximum return for the stockholders. When they pay a claim, it works counter to that goal. Therefore the insurance company has no choice but to deny claims or minimize payouts to the point where increasing profits due to lower expenditures is met by the loss of customers due to poor publicity.

          This is all moderated by regulation, of course; sometimes the company has no choice but to pay a claim. As these regulations eat into the profits, insurance companies spend billions on lobbyists in order to get regulations changed, weakened, or removed. If it’s a positive ROI, it’s what they *must* do.

          I don’t have a plausible solution for this problem. Our current political climate does not allow for just about *anything* to get done, let alone solve any problems of any significance. (Contraception? In the 21st century? Really?) And without a political solution, nothing will change. Insurance companies will continue to pursue profit by any means necessary, *because they have to*. It’s a race to the bottom, and the bottom consists of market pressures (about as sturdy as a Jenga tower, since as long as the other companies do something, they can get away with it as well) and regulatory limitations (and as we all know, all guvmt reglatns are due to those evl librls who just want to have everything given to them on a platter.)

  8. Jim M says:

    Progressive, FYI it would have been cheaper to pay out then what the last few days cost you. BTW, welcome to the net.

    • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

      Paying out this case? Probably cheaper. Paying out every claimed case to the limits? Definitely not.

    • Bob A Dobalina says:

      Not only have they potentially lost millions of dollars, no one will have sexual fantasies about Flo from now on

  9. Speedstr says:

    My condolences to the victim’s family. I can’t imagine how painful it is to endure such disrespect on behalf of a deceased family member. I want to thank you for bringing this issue up to the rest of us so that we are more aware of how insurance agencies work, and the important questions that we don’t know any better to ask.

  10. colpuck says:

    Dear Consumerist,

    This is standard practice. Why are you still over hyping the story?

    • nopirates says:

      as a site that seems to be an advocate for ‘consumers’, the publicity generated by this draws attention to the laws of the state of maryland and the strange consequences caused by them. these consequences seem to be anti-consumer and people should be aware of them. if the ultimate result of this is some sort of insurance reform, then all the better.

    • DarkPsion says:

      Because a lot of people don’t know that this is how it works. They expect their insurance to be there when they need it and don’t realize how state laws and “standard practices” will make an already bad situation unnecessarily complicated.

    • dolemite says:

      Dear person: maybe not everyone is familiar with insurance companies working against their customers to cover their own behind. Why are you asking questions? This is the first I’ve heard of this, and I appreciate the coverage.

  11. sparc says:

    Sounds like Progressive is about to get into a world of hurt considering this guy is getting flooded with media inquiries. They better have all their info in order in the event they plan to defend their actions in the eyes of the public.

  12. NeverLetMeDown2 says:

    Progressive’s statement is likely technically accurate, but I can see how it wouldn’t look that way to the brother. There were TWO defendants in this case: Progressive and the other driver. The lawyer mentioned was, presumably, representing _Progressive_, and hence wasn’t technically the other driver’s lawyer. The add-on from the brother is a bit unclear as to whether the lawyer in question was the ONLY lawyer present on the defense side. My hunch is that he wasn’t the only lawyer present, and that Nationwide sent someone as well to actually act as counsel for the defendant himself.

  13. SirWired says:

    I don’t get the hubbub… this is EXACTLY how I would expect an un/underinsured motorist policy to work.

    • dolemite says:

      You’d expect your insurance company to fight against you in court? If that’s what you expect, why are you a customer?

      • euph_22 says:

        Well I’m a customer because by law i have to be, and in case I do something stupid i don’t want to personally be on the hook for accidently driving through some guys $300,000 house (insert alternative catastrophic event here).

        I pay State Farm to cover financial damages in the event of an accident, not as my lawyer. It’s unfair to assume they will always choose to support my interests, especially when my interest is getting as much money out of then as possible.

        If the victims died if food poisoning, and the victims family sued, would we see similar posts talking about how the restaurant is opposing the costumer in court? No, because i don’t get legal services from the restaurant, just patty melts. Similarly, i just get insurance coverage from state farm, not legal representation.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        If I think I’m entitled to more money and sue them to get it, I expect them to defend themselves. They are suing the driver to prove fault to get progressive to pay more. Why wouldn’t progressive represent the other guy?

      • SirWired says:

        I expect them to fight me, and I’d expect to win, and when I do, they pay.

        If they were required to NOT fight you, what would they do when you request the policy max for a sprained finger in an accident of ambiguous fault after you get hit by an uninsured driver? Do you expect your insurance company to just roll over and cut you a check for a quarter-mil? Of course they are going to fight.

  14. garykung says:

    I think I figure out what’s going on:

    1) Terrible accident happened.
    2) Nationwide settled on behalf of the defendant. But the amount was not able to cover the loss adjusted.
    3) Progressive was not agreed in full to meet the gap created from underinsured.
    4) In order to recover, victim’s family sued defendant to establish fault to facilitate additional recovery from Progressive.
    5) Mediation failed.
    6) The case proceeded to full jury trial.
    7) Progressive filed a Motion to Intervene on behalf of the Defendant per the court record – as utlimately, Progressive will be the sole party responsible.
    8) Jury awarded in favor of the victim’s family.

    • fizxman says:

      This my take on it as well.

      In one of the original articles, the brother said that is family did not want to destroy the other driver but had to in order to establish fault and thus get Progressive to pay what the family felt it was entitled to.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      Excellent breakdown of events. Thank you for your efforts!

  15. axiomatic says:

    Wow OP…. get a lawyer fast. Progressive needs to be taught a lesson.

    • euph_22 says:

      He has a lawyer. He has sued the driver and progressive. Progressive mounted a defense to protect their interest. The victim’s brother misunderstood that.

      Progressive really dropped the ball on keeping the family informed about what was happening, but they didn’t DO anything wrong.

      • dolemite says:

        There’s a difference between doing nothing wrong, and doing nothing illegal.

        • euph_22 says:

          I know. They didn’t do anything wrong.

          • Coleoptera Girl says:

            Wrong? Perhaps not. But I personally would find it offensive if I was dealing with a tragic loss that seems so clear-cut that it’s the other driver’s fault and my own insurance company denied me a payout that the victim had been paying for over the course of years (likely, though this detail was not given in this case)… then turned around and defended the guilty driver in court.

            I don’t remember where I heard this rule, but here it is: “The recently deceased can do no wrong.” as in, the family/friends angry if you mention (or accuse the deceased of) some bad thing that the recently deceased person did. I think YMMV on this, though…

  16. BigDragon says:

    This is one of the many reasons I hate living in Maryland. The uninsured driver population has been dramatically increasing over the past couple years too. The problem is becoming worse every day. Maryland has such screwed up laws that nobody wants to fix because the state government is too busy bickering over gambling and dogs again. I need to get myself some property in Florida.

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      Florida isn’t any better. They have no-fault insurance. You get hit and it wasn’t your fault? Too bad, YOUR insurance company pays up and YOUR insurance rates go up, not the party who’s really at fault. Plus, it’s more difficult for those who are injured to recover damages in a no-fault scenario and there’s really no punishment for negligent drivers insofar as jury settlements or awards. IMHO, there’s no incentive to be a defensive driver.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-fault_insurance

      • Ben says:

        “IMHO, there’s no incentive to be a defensive driver.” Well, there is — to avoid an accident. But yeah.

        • luxosaucer13 says:

          Lol, I meant if you’re the victim of a collision. You still pay–for someone else’s bad driving. But you caught my drift.

      • fortymegafonzies says:

        That’s not really accurate. Your insurance company won’t raise your rates if you’re in an accident that’s not your fault. No-fault doesn’t mean that there’s never any determination of fault, just that you insure yourself for your own losses rather than suing the other driver’s insurance for payment — i.e. in terms of paying your medical bills, fault is irrelevant because your insurance pays them no matter what.

        • luxosaucer13 says:

          And you don’t think your insurance rates would go up as a result? Maybe you haven’t dealt with enough insurance companies.

          My family and I live in Oregon, which is not a no-fault state. My wife got involved in a collision that was not her fault; another driver was following too close, she had to brake because someone in front of her missed their turn, and an idiot in an F-350 with a reinforced front bumper took the back end of her car out.

          Our insurance rates did not change precisely BECAUSE Oregon is not a no-fault state and the other driver was determined by the police and HIS insurance company to be at fault. I spoke with our insurance agent when it was time for renewal and he said that it was precisely the fact that Oregon is not a no-fault state that saved our asses with respect to our insurance rates.

          • msbaskx2 says:

            NY is a no-fault state. Some fool ran a red light and t-boned my daughter’s care, totalling it. Her insurance company paid her for her car, then went after the insurance for the other guy, who reimbursed them, so my daughter’s insurance company was out $0 for the claim. Her insurance did not go up.

    • kanenas says:

      “The uninsured driver population has been dramatically increasing over the past couple years too.”

      Maryland is a haven for illegals. I have no doubt most uninsured drivers fall into that categorization. It stinks too because Maryland’s car insurance rates tend to be a bargain and stuff like this will screw all of the legitimate drivers into paying higher rates.

      • VidaBlueBalls says:

        “Maryland is a haven for illegals”

        Not really. MD has an illegal immigrant rate of 1 per 100 residents; ranking them 27th per capita in the US.

        • BigDragon says:

          Oh they’ll fix that soon enough. The state government likes to be #1 in as much as they can be. #1 in business taxes. #1 in property taxes. #1 in school over-funding. #1 in tolls next year. They won’t stand for 27th.

          • VidaBlueBalls says:

            #1 in tolls? You’ve never been to NJ, NY, FL or parts of TX.
            #1 in school over funding: That’s a good thing

  17. Michael Belisle says:

    Wow! Finally journalists are on the case. There are facts, numbers, lawyer statements. Everything one needs to start actually drawing conclusions!

    To the Consumerist’s credit, they appeared to be the only outlet in the blogosphere that actually attempted journalism here. A statement from an expert about how this could happen? Nobody else would touch such useful information.

  18. nickmoss says:

    Below is the Court’s order allowing Progressive to intervene:

    Doc No./Seq No.: 2/2
    File Date: 05/31/2011Close Date:Decision:
    Document Name: Order of Court
    It is this 19th day of May, 2011, by the Circuit Court For Baltimore City, hereby ORDERED

    1. That Progressive Advance Insurance Company be and is hereby allowed to intervene as a party Defendant.

    2. That Progressive Insurance Company is GRANTED all rights to participate in this proceeding as if it were an original party to this case.

    (Brown,J)

    • Snapdragon says:

      So Progressive wasn’t sued (because that’s not possible in that state), but basically ASKED to be added to the case.

  19. oldtaku says:

    As nickmoss noted, here’s the link that proves that Progressive are lying sacks of s@#$:

    http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiryDetail.jis?caseId=24C11002185&loc=69&detailLoc=CC

    Once you hit ‘accept’, hit back, then go to that link again and search for Progressive.

    • bar_foo says:

      No, they’re technically not lying. They are technically not representing the defendant, they are representing themselves as an interested party. In that role they have an interest in showing the defendant to be less than 100% responsible for the accident, but it is slightly different from defending him as such.

      • dolemite says:

        That’s just being technical. No matter if they are “defending” themselves or the guy that ran the red light, they are working against their customer and family. When I sign up for insurance, I expect my insurance company to do everything in their power to make things right for me, not themselves or a party that has done harm to me.

  20. Hagetaka says:

    Matt Fisher’s last tweet was about heading down to the CBS studios. Possibly it could be on their morning show today.

  21. humphrmi says:

    Progressive is a scam. Like their “Name your price” – any idiot knows that if $100,000 coverage costs $X per year, and you want to pay less than $X, then you’ll simply get less insurance, not $100,000 coverage at “your price”.

    • bar_foo says:

      Why is that a scam? It means they sell arbitrarily low coverage, but do people really not get that if you buy $300 worth of insurance you’ll get less than if you buy $400 worth?

      • humphrmi says:

        Everyone sells lower coverage limits, it’s not exclusive to Progressive and it’s not “name your own price”, it’s “name your own underinsurance level”.

  22. Ben says:

    This story is going to ruin the reputation of lawyers!

  23. dcatz says:

    The family should stop wasting time in dogbite court and go straight to federal court.

    The brother lives in New York and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, which makes the case eligible for diversity jurisdiction.

  24. tuxman2 says:

    What are you looking to gain by your blog? Your sister paid for a car insurance policy. Hire your own lawyer if you feel you need better representation.

    Nothing can bring her back. Finding the defendant negligent changes nothing for you. She will still be dead. Her life insurance policy will be paid out to her husband and/or children.

    Wait…I think I see what you are doing…would a world of money will make the world of hurt go away?

  25. Mike says:

    Progressive has a legal obligation to its stockholders to use every legal means to pay as little as possible. This obligation trumps their duty to their consumers.

  26. There's room to move as a fry cook says:
  27. Jawaka says:

    I still don’t feel that no fault auto insurance should be looked upon as life insurance.

  28. Bob A Dobalina says:

    This is the scam that is insurance. States require you to buy it, but the insurance companies are not obligated to pay claims.They don’t have to deliver what they promise because people are forced to buy their product.

    Just wait until Obamacare. Oh, you spouse smokes? We won’t pay for your cancer treatment. Don’t like it? Go somewhere else. Wait, you can’t. So sue us, we got a herd of lawyers sitting around playing solitaire just waiting to drag you through the courts for years- if you live that long

    • Happystrap says:

      What you say, Bob A Dobalina, is right on…but it has nothing to do with Obamacare. That’s the way is is right now. It won’t get worse with Obamacare; it’ll just stay the same. Because the insurance industry is one of the several major players who own the government.

  29. bobosims says:

    I see a Golden Poo award headed Progressive’s way come next voting cycle…

  30. picabo says:

    UPDATE #2: Despite a denial of assisting the individual responsible for the death, a simple search for court documentation shows that Progressive was given permission to participate on the side of the defense back in May 2011. The document reads:

    It is this 19th day of May, 2011, by the Circuit Court For Baltimore City, hereby ORDERED

    1. That Progressive Advance Insurance Company be and is hereby allowed to intervene as a party Defendant.

    2. That Progressive Insurance Company is GRANTED all rights to participate in this proceeding as if it were an original party to this case.

  31. Happystrap says:

    Wait a minute! Progressive did NOT “deny defending the driver who killed policyholder.” Progressive carefully weasel-worded their statement, saying simply that their attorney “did not serve as the attorney for the defendant,” You can be sure that the attorney of record was NOT the guy from Progressive. So the Progressive statement was not a lie. It just wasn’t really the truth.The Progressive guy was just the gunslinger, .