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T. Thomas Metier
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How are Reasonable Attorney Fees Calculated in a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

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Attorney Tom MetierIn the case of Nibert v. Geico Casualty Company, 2017 CO A23, February 23, 2017, Denise Nibert and her husband were injured in a car accident in 2012. Nibert received the policy maximum from the motorist at-fault, but she also carried underinsured motorist insurance through Geico. Geico offered to settle with Nibert, and she declined the offer. In 2015, Nibert sued Geico for breach of contract, common law bad faith, and statutory delay.

The statute under which Nibert sued Geico is §10-3-1116, C.R.S. 2016. The lower court found for Nibert, saying Geico delayed paying Nibert the benefit owed for no legitimate reason. The trial court awarded Nibert $50,000 in damages on her successful statutory claim — this represented two times the $25,000 UIM benefit from her policy with Geico, along with attorney’s fees and costs in the amount of $118,875. Geico appealed, and argued that the window for attorney fees is only the period from the date the benefit was first delayed through when it was paid.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Nibert that there was potential to create an unfair loophole through which insurance companies could avoid paying full attorney fees under the statute. The court reviewed the jury’s finding of fact, and the record reflected there were many dates during the course of Nibert’s dealings with Geico where a reasonable juror could determine was the date in which Geico began unreasonably delaying the payment. The jury in this case did determine when the date began and calculated attorney fees based on that finding. The jury properly made a factual determination regarding when the delay began.

It affirmed the lower court’s rulings, and then found once again for Nibert in her new request for attorney’s fees for having to appeal the judgment.

The Metier Law Firm is committed to assisting people with personal injury claims throughout Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska, and we frequently serve as co-counsel to law firms nationwide. Tom Metier recently secured the largest personal injury verdict in Colorado.

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