This case centers on a legal malpractice claim against the insured’s personal injury counsel for failing to bring an underinsured motorist claim against the insured’s carrier within the statute of limitations. The insured did bring suit against the carrier in the malpractice action, but the court affirmed a judgment for the carrier based upon the statute of limitations.
For our purposes, we note the court’s statement concerning the duties of a carrier within the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Citing New Jersey Supreme Court precedent, this Appellate Division panel observed that underinsured motorist carriers are “required to act in a fair manner and inform plaintiff if there were any deficiencies in his claim or if he needed to file a request for arbitration by a certain date.” The insured cannot “sit back, request and receive various documents over a three[-]and[-]one-half[-]year period, and then deny plaintiff’s claim because he failed to file a complaint in Superior Court or request arbitration prior to the running of the six-year statute of limitations.” Rather in those circumstances, the insurer has “a duty of good faith to notify plaintiff if it disagreed with his understanding that [the insurer] was duly acting upon his filed claim.”
The present facts were completely distinguishable, and did not implicate the same principles or impose these duties on the insurer in this case.
Date of Decision: October 13, 2021
Barnick v. Kobrin, Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division No. A-2543-20, 2021 WL 4771308 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Oct. 13, 2021) (Accurso, Messano, Rose JJ.)