Earlier this week, the brother of a woman killed in a car crash made headlines around the world by claiming that his sister’s insurance company, Progressive, had actually come to the legal defense of the driver accused of causing the fatal accident. Since then, the insurance company has stated that it was not defending the other driver, but only defending itself in the lawsuit — a distinction the brother found wanting. Today, the insurer says it has reached a settlement with the family and is attempting to clarify matters further by explaining why its lawyers ended up on the other side of courtroom.
In a statement posted on its website, Progressive confirms what our insurance expert told Consumerist earlier this week, that in order to receive the payout of an underinsured driver claim in Maryland, the other driver must be deemed to be completely at fault.
“Sometimes this can be proven without the need for a trial,” writes the insured, adding that in this case, “there were credible conflicting eyewitness accounts as to who was at fault.”
Continues the statement:
“A trial was necessary so that a jury could review all of the evidence and come to a decision. In those circumstances, under Maryland law, the insurance company providing the Underinsured Motorist coverage is considered a defendant. As a defendant in this case, Progressive participated in the trial procedures on our own behalf while Nationwide represented the other driver.
On Thursday, August 9, a jury determined that the other driver was at fault in the accident involving Ms. Fisher. In accordance with that decision, Progressive worked with the Fisher family and their legal representative to resolve the claim.”
We have reached out to the brother to see if he has any further comment on this story. He had taken issue with Progressive’s initial statement that it was only acting as a co-defendant in the case.
“During the trial, both in and out of the courtroom, [the Progressive lawyer] conferred with the defendant,” wrote the brother in an earlier statement. “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.”
Thanks to David for the tip!