Insurance Companies Appeal Decisions Against the Wishes of their Customers

Some people are inclined to blame the injured party for bringing their case to court, and tend to assume that they must just be greedy and stubborn in not settling out of court.


In Washington many personal injury claims are subject to mandatory arbitration before the parties can have a jury trial.[1] Either side may appeal, although there is the potential of the party who appealed paying the others side’s attorney fees. At trial the jury does not know the result of the arbitration, or which side appealed, or even that there was such a hearing. So, no valid assumptions can be made.


An injured person who can not settle out of court and must litigate sues the other driver or other responsible person, not their insurance company.


Some insurance companies routinely appeal the arbitration awards, even if their customer who is being sued does not wish to; even if their customer would rather accept the results of the arbitration.


This practice was spotlighted by two recent Washington Court of Appeals cases. These cases both confirm that insurance carriers can make the decision of whether to appeal for their customers they are defending in court.[2]


An appeal from mandatory arbitration is often, and probably more often than not, filed by the defense, not the injured plaintiff. And, since the defendant’s insurance company is paying for the defense, they are making those calls, even sometimes over the objection of their customers.


This is done to raise the costs and hassle factor of bringing injury claims, so as to deter people with even the most valid of claims from seeking full and fair compensation.


So, if anyone is greedy…..

[1] RCW 7.06 et. seq.

[2] Russell v. Maas, __ Wn.App. __ (Filed March 05, 2012); Engstrom v. Goodman, _Wn.App. _ (No. 66557-0-I Filed March 05, 2012).

Posted in Washington Personal Injury Law.