bad faith

An insurance policy is a promise by an insurer to provide insurance protection to its policy holders. In addition to the duty to provide protection, the insurer must also negotiate and settle claims in “good faith.” When an insurance company denies a policy holder’s claim in “bad faith” it means that they have denied a claim or offered a very low settlement without a reasonable basis to do so. In these circumstances a personal injury lawyer may be able to help the victim sue the insurer for additional damages.

What does the policy holder have to prove to win a bad faith lawsuit?

A bad faith lawsuit will vary from state to state but the essence is that the facts and circumstances present at the time of the claim being denied will often point to an intentionally careless investigation or a willful attempt to manipulate the outcome. If a claim is denied because of a mistaken assessment but the mistake can be explained in a reasonable way; that would not qualify as bad faith.

A claim of bad faith against a third party’s insurance company is much harder to prove. This type of situation only occurs if the company’s insurance adjuster used verifiable lies or fraud or has impeded the claimants ability to file a claim by withholding evidence, interfering with a witness, etc.

Speak to an accident attorney in your state who is familiar with the personal injury laws particular to your area.

What damages can be awarded in a bad faith lawsuit?

Damages are the legal term for monetary compensation awarded to the victim. In a bad faith claim the policy owner will be awarded the value of the original claim that should have been paid out. In addition to this, the policy owner can recover the “consequential” damages that occurred as a result of the bad faith denial of the claim.

Consequential damages represent the consequences that could be predicted by the denial of the accident claim, and may include:

  • The cost of defending the injury lawsuit brought against the covered driver such as attorney’s fees and the judgment awarded.
  • The cost of suing the insurance company to prove that the claim should have been approved.
  • Emotional distress

Speak to an accident attorney in your state who is familiar with the personal injury laws particular to your area.

A personal injury lawyer knows how to navigate common bad faith defense strategies

Experienced personal injury attorneys know how insurance companies will try to break holes in the case. For example, the defendant may try to show that the policy holder intentionally misrepresented facts during the claim process. They may also argue that although their final decision to deny the claim may have been incorrect that it was not an unreasonable assessment. For example, the insurance company may provide evidence that it based its decision on the outcome of previous judicial opinions or the advice of legal counsel.

What do I do if I believe that an insurance company has denied my claim in bad faith?

If you believe the adjuster for your insurance company is negotiating in bad faith, let them know by using the term in conversation. If your concerns are not addressed at that point then consider writing a “bad faith letter.” The bad faith letter to the insurance company should refer to the conduct of the adjuster that you believe is bad faith. See a “Sample Letter Claiming Bad Faith.”

If the letter does not provide a change in position it may be time to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.

If you or a loved one is dealing with an accident or injury through no fault of your own, you have enough on your plate. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!