Bad Faith Insurance Litigation
We pay for insurance to protect ourselves in the event of an economic loss associated with personal injuries or property damages—or even a lawsuit that would result in financial loss. In exchange for our premiums, we are owed coverage by the insurer, and we rightfully expect our insurance company to uphold the terms of our policy. Unfortunately, there are times when an insurer fails to uphold its implied or expressed duties.
When an insurance company fails to uphold the terms of an insurance policy, providing coverage as promised, it is known as “bad faith.” Bad faith is broadly defined as unfair or dishonest practices, and when an insurance company engages in bad faith actions, they may be held liable. Some of the more common types of bad faith “tricks” insurance companies engage in include:
- Failure to fully investigate your claim, giving your accident the attention it deserves and truly considering the facts of the claim before issuing a decision;
- Engaging in unreasonable delays. Insurance companies may make constant demands for more information or paperwork in an unreasonable manner, showing they are simply trying to drag the claim out for as long as possible to induce you to accept a low settlement.
- Immediately offering a lowball settlement amount. When an insurance company knowingly offers much less money than your claim is worth, this is one example of bad faith practices.
- Making unreasonable demands regarding paperwork from you, in an attempt to drag out your claim, and, in turn, prompting you to settle for a much lower amount than you are rightfully entitled to.
- Engaging in deception. Insurance companies are well-aware that most individuals do not entirely understand every part of their insurance coverage. Even knowing this, the company may choose not to notify you of certain time deadlines or other important facets of your insurance as a method of denying your claim.
- Threatening legal action against a claimant. Some insurance companies either imply or overtly threaten legal action against a potential claimant, which is definitely a bad faith practice.
- Misinterpreting policy language in an attempt to deny your legitimate claim.
- Picking only certain facts from your medical report which benefit the insurance company, while ignoring other medical facts that prove your injuries or disability.
- Canceling an insurance policy after a legitimate claim is made. Far too many claimants have found their lives turned upside down after their insurance policy was canceled because they made a legitimate claim. The insurance company may rely on misrepresentation or the “fine print” of the policy to back up their cancellation decision.
Some Issues Associated with Bad Faith Insurance
Insurance companies may not place their own best interests above yours in the event of an insurance claim. While it can be difficult to prevail in a bad faith insurance claim (you may have to establish a breach of contract), it is not impossible with an experienced attorney by your side. It is extremely important that you consult with an experienced bad faith insurance attorney who can help you file your claim as quickly as possible. If you paid your insurance premiums for years, only to be denied or shortchanged when you filed a claim, the Hoffoss Devall attorneys have your back. We will step in and hold the insurance company to its contractual obligation on your behalf. Our Lake Charles law firm has been successful in settling insurance coverage disputes or suing insurers for rejecting legitimate claims. Our Lake Charles bad faith insurance attorneys have prevailed in hurricane damage, third-party injury claims, and other insurance claims on behalf of clients throughout Southwest Louisiana. We can help you with the following types of bad-faith insurance claims:
- Vehicle Accident Bad Faith Insurance Claims —If you have been injured in an auto accident, resulting from the negligence on the part of another driver, you have options available to you regarding obtaining compensation for your losses. You could have a claim against the other driver if he or she was clearly negligent for your injuries, or you may bring an insurance claim or lawsuit directly against the other driver’s insurance company. In certain instances, you might also be able to bring a claim against your own insurance company. While the laws in most states have always obligated insurance companies to act in good faith when dealing with auto accident claims, the duties of insurance companies have been expanded over the past years. Today, most states require insurance companies not only to act in good faith but to deal fairly with any person who makes a claim for damages, whether that person is a policyholder with the insurance company or not. Any insurance company that fails to deal fairly with a person making a claim for damages against the insurance company is said to have acted in bad faith or failed to fulfill the obligations stated in the insurance policy language.
- Hurricane Damage Bad Faith Insurance Claims —Unfortunately, following a natural disaster (like a hurricane, tornado, or earthquake), insurance companies know that the level of devastation will result in an influx of claims. They also know they will be responsible for handing out significant amounts of money as a result of a natural disaster. In some instances, rather than being responsible and helping those in need, insurance providers may use bad faith insurance tactics to reduce their own company’s losses. At a time when you need help the very most, your insurance company may deny and delay, or may even cancel your policy. When an insurance company delays investigating your claim, it can be difficult to get an accurate assessment of the damage to your property, as well as how much it will cost to repair and replace your damaged home and items. When an insurance company delays too long following a natural disaster, it makes it easier for them to claim that some of the damage to your home was a pre-existing problem. You may be facing the total destruction of your home and your belongings, yet also have to deal with an insurance company that simply does not want to pay you what you are owed, even after you have paid insurance premiums faithfully for many years.
- Homeowner’s Insurance Bad Faith Insurance Claims —In addition to a natural disaster, like a hurricane, you may have another insurance claim for any number of types of damage done to your home. There are often exclusions to homeowner’s insurance policies, meaning you have to pay extra for the following types of coverage:
- Landslides, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes or tropical storms;
- Nuclear explosions or other acts of terrorism or war;
- Damage resulting from black mold;
- Termite damage;
- Neglect on the part of the homeowner;
- Intentional damage by the homeowner, and
- Defects in construction.
As a homeowner, you rely on your insurance company to help you rebuild your life and your home following a disaster. Bad faith practices by your insurance company could potentially leave you destitute—or even homeless.
- Health Insurance Bad Faith Insurance Claims —If you made the responsible decision to purchase health insurance—despite the cost—and have paid your insurance premiums faithfully for years, then find that your health insurance company has denied your claim, you may feel betrayed. You have good reason to feel this way, however, if you can prove your insurance company acted in bad faith, you may choose to file a civil claim against your health insurance company. While specific benefits and coverage may vary from policy to policy, you still have certain rights and protections which may include coverage for pre-existing health conditions, no lifetime or yearly dollar limits for coverage of essential health benefits, free or low-cost preventative care, and a variety of coverage options for adults of all ages. If you have been denied benefits you were entitled to receive and/or the reason for withholding the benefits was unreasonable, it could be time to speak to an attorney about a bad faith insurance claim.
What Damages Can You Expect When Bad Faith is Proven?
When bad faith is clearly proven on the part of the insurance company, you may be able to recover the following:
- What the original claim was worth;
- Any damages you sustained as a result of your bad faith insurance claim;
- Damages for any emotional distress you suffered following the denial of your claim, and
- If the insurance company intentionally or recklessly acted in a manner that harmed you, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.
An experienced Hoffoss Devall bad faith insurance attorney will fight aggressively for the compensation you are entitled to receive. Although insurance bad faith cases can be complex, your Hoffoss Devall attorney has a thorough understanding of the laws which govern bad faith insurance claims and will protect your rights and your future. Contact Hoffoss Devall today!