Your Rights When Insurance Companies Act in Bad Faith
If you believe that your insurance company has wrongfully denied your accident claim, you may be wondering if you have any additional recourse against them.
Personal injury lawyers will investigate your accident claim denial to determine if the initial claim could have been allowed. They can also determine if you can recover additional amounts from the insurer that denied your claim in bad faith. Here’s what you need to know about bad faith cases, what to expect from your insurance company, and how an injury lawyer can help.
What Is a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?
Bad faith means that the insurance company didn’t have a reasonable basis for denying your accident claim. Insurance company actions that can be deemed as bad faith include a failure to thoroughly investigate the facts before denying your claim, ignoring or missing obvious facts that would have supported the validity of your claim, intentionally or willfully carrying out an inadequate claim investigation, and a failure to abide by laws and regulations governing accident claim investigations.
Bad faith could also occur if the insurance company offers an unfair settlement amount. Keep in mind that the insurance adjuster may not be negotiating in bad faith just because he or she disagrees with you regarding the value of your accident claim. Always consult with an attorney to determine if state laws and local regulations support a bad faith claim against an insurance company.
What to Expect From the Insurance Company
The insurance company may try to argue that the offer was reasonable and the adjuster fully investigated your claim and complied with all laws. If they can prove that you made any intentional misrepresentations about the claim, they will ask to have a bad faith claim dismissed. In some cases, an insurance company may ask a judge for a declaratory judgment to determine the extent of what they owe on a pending claim. When this happens, a bad faith claim generally would not be allowed.
How Personal Injury Lawyers Help With Bad Faith Cases
Injury attorneys can help you recover damages from an insurance company that handled your claim in bad faith. First, they will work to recover the amount that should have been paid on the original claim. A lawyer can also seek consequential damages that result from the accident claim denial, including attorney fees and court costs. Punitive damages may be available if an investigation shows the insurance company intentionally acted to harm you. The attorney could also recover any statutory penalties or additional amounts for emotional distress to the extent the law permits.