In a recent Massachusetts insurance dispute, the state’s high court found that consent-to-settle clauses are enforceable and do not violate public policy. The decision came in response to an engineering malpractice lawsuit that Massachusetts homeowners filed against a professional home engineer.
According to the court’s opinion, the homeowners hired the engineer to design and construct portions of their new home. The engineer signed an agreement with the town but underestimated the number of loads in his calculations. The engineer filed several inaccurate control reports and falsely certified that they complied with the applicable building codes. Shortly after construction, the defects became apparent, and after a confrontation, the engineer admitted to his miscalculations. The homeowners filed several claims against the engineer and his insurer.
The insurance company and the engineer had an agreement that the insurance company would not settle any claims without his consent. The homeowners asked for over $1 million in damages, but the engineer refused to settle for more than $100,000, despite the insurance company advising him that he faced a seven-figure settlement. The engineer was found liable for $460,000, which was paid partially by his insurance company. The homeowners then amended their complaint against the insurance company, arguing that they violated a state law that requires prompt settlements.
The court found that the insurance company made good-faith efforts to get the engineer to settle, but ultimately, professional liability insurance is voluntary, and the parties retain the freedom to contract. The court did note that negotiations must be conducted in good faith and without negligence, regardless of whether the insurance company believes that the insured will consent. This disclaimer provides insurance holders with some form of recourse if an insurance company fails to act in good faith in their negotiations.
This case exemplifies the various issues that plaintiffs often face when dealing with negligent defendants and their insurance companies. Massachusetts plaintiffs may experience these challenges in several situations, such as car accident negotiations and contract disputes. Prospective plaintiffs should retain an experienced Massachusetts attorney who is up-to-date and well-versed in the various evidentiary and procedural rules and regulations. These types of cases can be long and drawn-out, and insurance companies must abide by state regulations. Insurance companies work for their clients and protect their interests, so you must have someone to advocate on your behalf.
Have You Suffered Injuries Because of Another Party’s Negligence?
If you or someone in your family has suffered serious injuries as a result of another party’s negligence, contact the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates, P.C. We have successfully represented victims in various types of insurance claims. We have over 25 years of experience advocating on behalf of clients against insurance companies. Our clients have recovered substantial amounts of compensation for the damages that they sustained. Compensation typically includes payments for medical expenses, ongoing medical bills, property damage, and pain and suffering. In some unusual cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. Contact the Law Offices of Barry Feinstein and Affiliates, P.C. for a free consultation by calling 1-800-262-9200. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.