The Progressive insurance group is defending itself against an onslaught of negative publicity after it tried to avoid paying $75,000 to the family of a client killed in a car crash and tried to blame the wreck on her. The criticism began Monday with a blog post from 33-year-old Matt Fisher, whose sister Kaitlynn—a Progressive client—was killed in a June 2010 car crash in Baltimore. In order to avoid the payout to her family, Progressive interjected itself into a lawsuit the Fishers filed against the other driver. Last week, a jury found the other driver negligent, despite Progressive's efforts to persuade the jury otherwise.
The backlash against Progressive was strong enough that the company felt compelled to issue a public statement on the case. It denied Progressive was representing the driver who was ultimately found negligent, which was technically true. But it prompted even further backlash because it failed to acknowledge that, as a practical matter, Progressive's lawyer was indeed working in court as a third party to combat the Fisher family's claims. The family doesn't anticipate collecting its money from Progressive now, but the Fishers' lawyer may file an industry complaint over the case demanding more.