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Is a clarification of an offer to settle to be constructed as a counter-offer in an automobile collision case thus, opening up the possibility of a “bad faith” claim against the insurer

The answer is yes. In a recent case decided by the Court of Appeals but whose appeal was denied by the Georgia Supreme Court, Liberty Mutual's desire to change the release document included as an essential part of the settlement, was determined to be a modification of the settlement offer. Liberty Mutual argued that they were not changing the offer to settle. They lost this argument on the subject to a “bad faith” claim for failing to settle within their policy limits.

They say that “the devil is in the details.” Here the details were a pretty big deal. Many lawyers who settle their client's auto wreck cases, now have clarification from the court that an offer must be accepted “as is” without modification to avoid exposure to pay greater sums in “bad faith” claims.

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