Who do you believe -- the angry brother or the insurance company on the defensive? Trust us, it's complicated and heartbreaking.
New York comedian Matt Fisher had a beef with Progressive Insurance over how it handled his sister Katie's death by a reckless driver. No punchline, just outrage. In a now-viral skewering of the insurer, Fisher claimed Progressive -- Katie's insurer in the 2010 collision that claimed her life -- paid its own lawyers to defend Katie's killer against a lawsuit brought by Fisher's family.
But Progressive denied Fisher's accusations to The Huffington Post. A spokeswoman for the insurance giant wrote in an email Tuesday that Nationwide represented the defendant, and that Progressive provided neither consulting, resources nor money in any way.
Fisher rebutted on Tumblr that a lawyer who said he worked for Progressive played an active role for the opposition. The attorney, he said, gave an opening statement, closing argument and cross-examined witnesses for the defense.
Turns out Fisher was at least partly right. A Progressive rep on Wednesday confirmed to HuffPost that an attorney for Progressive was providing counsel in the trial. However, the rep added, the attorney represented only Progressive, not the defendant. Progressive provided no evidence, he said, but was looking after its interests in the liability aspect of the case.
The upshot of this is that Fisher's family was awarded $760,000. It's been a long, frustrating road to get there. And the Fishers haven't been paid yet.
Fisher originally took to Tumblr to pen an acerbic account of Progressive's efforts to avoid paying the claim in full.
Fisher's complaint, titled, "My Sister Paid Progressive Insurance to Defend Her Killer In Court," said Katie was killed at a Baltimore intersection in 2010 by an under-insured driver who ran a red light. As her policy dictated, Progressive was supposed to pay the difference between Katie's policy and the driver's. Instead, he claimed, Progressive resorted to the kind of slippery behavior that insurance carriers are often accused of.
Fisher's family discovered that it couldn't sue Progressive because Maryland law prohibits customers from suing insurers to fork over claim money, so the family had to sue the other driver to establish negligence, Fisher wrote. Then the Fishers could apply further pressure to make Progressive pay up.
Fisher wrote that Progressive paid for the lawyers who represented her killer at the trial, presumably in an effort to have the case thrown out. But the insurer failed and the other driver was judged negligent. The Fishers were awarded $760,000, reported New York magazine.
Victory for the Fishers, right? Money on its way? Well...
"At this point, I hope you’ll forgive me if I wait for it to actually happen," Fisher wrote.
Chris Wolf, claims general manager for Progressive, said in a Tuesday email to HuffPost: "We respect the verdict and now can continue to work with the Fisher family to reach a resolution."
UPDATE: This story was updated Aug. 14 at 4 p.m. to incorporate Progressive's response throughout the story and to include the court-awarded amount in the Fishers' lawsuit.
UPDATE: It was updated and re-edited Aug. 15 at 10:45 a.m. to add Fisher's rebuttal and the insurance company's response.
7. Suzuki SX4
The least-expensive car on this list, the Suzuki SX4 performed poorly in rollover and rear-test ratings. Among the more than 30 small cars tested by the IIHS, the SX4 was the only small car to receive two scores of "marginal" or "poor" out of four ratings. Similarly, the SX4 also received a "fair" rating, the second-lowest possible, in government side-crash testing. The model's U.S. sales also have languished, falling from 30,166 in 2008 to 12,520 last year. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>
6. Wrangler Jeep
With "marginal" ratings in side and rear-impact protection, the two-door Wrangler joins other SUVs, such as the CX-7, CX-9 and Pathfinder, as a poor performer in IIHS tests. One of the few car models that actually underperforms the two-door Jeep Wrangler is the larger four-door version. This version of the Wrangler also received a "marginal" rear-impact rating, yet was also given a "poor" side-impact rating. During a recent IIHS side-impact test, a dummy was struck by the steel bars supporting the four-door Wrangler's convertible roof. Both of the models' overall poor performance stems in part from the fact they were unable to protect the driver's or back-seat passengers' heads and other bodily parts in simulated accidents. Despite earning the lowest score of any mid-size SUV from Consumer Reports, the Wrangler still sells especially well with more than 120,000 sold in the U.S. in 2011. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>
5. Nissan Pathfinder
The Nissan Pathfinder earned "marginal" ratings in rollover and rear-impact testing from the IIHS. The Pathfinder's performance in government rollover tests is likewise troubling, as it registered an estimated 20% to 30% risk of rolling over during testing. At a price of $29,290, the cost of a Pathfinder is similar to that of the Mazda CX-9 or the 4-door Jeep Wrangler. According to Edmunds sales figures, both these models have outsold the Pathfinder in the past three years. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>
4. Mazda CX-9
Assembled in Hiroshima, Japan, the Mazda CX-9 received "marginal" scores in both rollover and rear safety ratings. The CX-9 also had the lowest strength-to-weight ratio of all midsize SUVs tested by the IIHS. This ratio measures how much force a car's roof can handle before it crushes five inches, and then it is divided by the weight of the car. Despite these poor ratings, the number of CX-9s sold increased from 25,484 in 2007 to 34,421 in 2011. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>
3. Mazda CX-7
Although it will be replaced by the newer CX-5 model next year, the CX-7's safety record certainly will not be remembered fondly. Despite "good" scores in front and side impact ratings, low grades in rollover and rear-impact measures go against perceptions that the CX-7 is a safe car to drive. Sales rose from about 20,000 in 2009 to 35,641 in 2011. Still, this is down from 2007 when 42,199 CX-7 cars were sold. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>
2. Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab
The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon crew cab are fundamentally the same light truck made by General Motors (NYSE: GM) with differing cosmetic features. The small pickup performed quite poorly in the IIHS tests, earning a "poor" side-impact grade and "marginal" grades for rollover and rear safety. Sales of the Colorado have been especially poor in recent years; GM sold 75,716 such cars in 2007 and only 31,026 in 2011. Making matters worse, a November, 2011, recall of 5,220 Colorados and Canyons due to seat belt safety concerns did not help either the brand's sales or its safety record. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>
1. Dodge Ram 1500
Though Dodge has been offering the half-ton Ram 1500 since 1981, its safety track record has long been unimpressive. From 1998 through 2001, the truck received failing marks from IIHS in frontal offset tests, and was rated "poor" in protecting heads and left legs, as well as in restraining the crash test dummy. Though frontal offset ratings have since received "good" ratings from the IIHS, the vehicle's side-impact and rollover ratings remain substandard. Curiously, it was the opposite in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tests. The agency found fault with the Ram's performance on frontal impact tests but not with side impact tests. Despite safety concerns, the model has been selling well, and from 2007 to 2011 Dodge sold more than 100,000 trucks each year. Read more at <a href="http://247wallst.com/2012/05/29/the-most-dangerous-cars-in-america/#ixzz1wq4We4Kd" target="_hplink">24/7 Wall St. </a>