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Kaitlin Gill
Kaitlin Gill
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Progressive on the defensive

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The Progressive Corp. now finds itself on the defensive after collaborating with lawyers defending a driver who killed a woman in June 2010. Progressive was trying to avoid paying the deceased’s family $75,000 for the car accident, according to the Associated Press.

Progressive did not represent the driver who caused the collision, but the insurance company’s attorney worked with the defense and put on witnesses in order to challenge Kaitlynn Fisher’s family’s case.

The other driver was found to be negligent.

Thursday, the Fisher family commented on the significant online support that it has received. Public reaction to the case was so strong that the Ohio-based insurance company released a statement to the press.

Therein, Progressive denied that it represented the driver at fault. The company faced more backlash after the press release because it did not address that Progressive’s lawyer was working in the courtroom as a third party against the Fisher family.

Kaitlynn’s brother, Matt, didn’t necessarily expect to receive such support when he wrote his blog post about the case, but he figured that people would be as flabbergasted as he was that his sister’s insurance company was trying so hard to blame her for the wreck that took her life.

The family’s reportedly attorney noted that it is not unusual for an insurance company like Progressive to approach the court case as an opponent of its client. But in this particular case, when the company had plenty of reason to identify Kaitlynn as the victim, it was wrong for Progressive to take an adversarial position against the client. Nationwide, the insurance provider for the other driver, didn’t even dispute that its client was at fault for the accident.

According to the Associated Press, Kaitlynn Fisher’s insurance policy covered uninsured or underinsured drivers who caused serious injury or death up to $100,000. Nationwide paid $25,000 and the Fisher family believed it should receive $75,000 from Progressive. Progressive would not recognize the other driver as being at fault because if Fisher was found to be at fault, the company would not have to pay the $75,000.

Progressive used testimony from a passenger in Kaitlynn Fisher’s car. The woman testified that Fisher was at fault in the accident, but since she suffered severe brain damage in the crash and subsequent memory problems, her statement was unreliable.

Progressive spokesman Jeff Sibel told reporters, "This was a complex case, and we felt at the time we had fulfilled our obligations, and that's why we represented ourselves in court."

The Fisher family’s attorney does not anticipate having any further issues with receiving the $75,000 from Progressive. Although the legal success brings relief to the family, Matt Fisher said that the case has been an unneeded disruption for a mourning family.

"The thing I would like more than anything to be talking about is how much I loved my sister," he said.