Georgia’s High Court Says Geico Must Pay $2.7M for Failure to Settle

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This is the case of Geico Indemnity Co. v. Whiteside, case number S21Q0227 in the Supreme Court of Georgia.

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In April 2021, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that Geico Indemnity Co. must pay $2.7 million dollars to the plaintiff after the court found that Geico failed to settle a claim arising from an accident involving a car and a bicycle, even though the insured driver failed to inform the insurer of a default judgment and claims that arose from the collision.

The high court said that Geico owed the driver, Bonnie Winslett, a duty to settle the lawsuit that was filed by the bicyclist, Terry Guthrie, even if her coverage was terminated for not notifying Geico about the claim, which ultimately resulted in a default judgment.

This court was answering questions that were certified to it by the Eleventh Circuit because Geico contested its liability after a jury found that it was 70% responsible for a $2.9 million dollar judgment that Guthrie won against Winslett, by default in the underlying case.