In a June 2022 decision the Georgia Court of Appeals, “A22A0361” Bennett v. Novas, No. A22A0361, (Ga. Ct. App. Jun. 17, 2022), has again states that even asking permission as an insurer to add the named insured is a rejection of a time limited demand to settle a case within policy limits. The surprising thing is this is even true in the post July 2021 era of the new Georgia Bad Faith Statute.
The general concept is that if a Plaintiff gives the insurer the chance to settle for the policy limits, they can ask a specific number of things from the Defendant and under the new statute, if a release is sent along with the paperwork, then you cannot ask about even the possibility of adding a party. If you don’t send your own release, there is a possibility that the insurer could seek clarification as to whether all insureds are to be released.
The Appellate Court noted
However, “[a] purported acceptance of a plaintiff’s settlement offer which imposes conditions or attempts to release parties other than the named defendant-offeree will be construed as a counter-offer to the offer to settle for the policy limits.” (Emphasis supplied.) Herring v. Dunning, 213 Ga.App. 695, 698 (446 S.E.2d 199) (1994); see also Pritchard v. Mendoza, 357 Ga.App. 283, 288 (850 S.E.2d 472) (2020)
Bennett v. Novas, No. A22A0361, 5-6 (Ga. Ct. App. Jun. 17, 2022)
Although this decision predates the new bad faith statute, the logic will likely hold up so insurers, don’t ask to add parties when you are trying to accept a demand; it’s a counteroffer.