After a Florida car accident, slip-and-fall, medical malpractice incident, or other accident caused by negligent behavior, many injured victims rely on insurance settlements to cover the cost of their medical bills and other expenses like lost wages. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always acknowledge the true value of a claim or pay out claims in a reasonable amount of time. This unfair strategy is sometimes referred to as acting in bad faith.
If you have reason to believe that an insurance company has unfairly delayed, denied, or diminished your personal injury claim, you should consider taking additional legal action. The personal injury lawyers of Dolman Law Group can offer valuable legal insight and extensive resources to help you secure the settlement you are entitled to. We provide free consultations where we can devise a strategy to take on an insurance company that has acted in bad faith. Our team will go above and beyond to ensure that you get a fair settlement to cover your financial and non-economic losses.
Defining Insurance Company Bad Faith
In almost all personal injury cases, the insurance company holds the purse strings when it comes to settlement. Every insurance contract contains an . When an individual or entity signs up for insurance coverage, the purpose of the coverage is to provide compensation when the unexpected happens. This includes situations when the covered individual or entity is negligent, such as a drunk driver who caused a serious car accident.
Whatever the circumstance, when the insurance company refuses to pay or defend a claim in bad faith, or if the insurance company unreasonably delays payment on a claim, the covered individual may have a cause of action directly against the insurance company over and above the insurance policy limit. In other words, there are no limits on a bad faith insurance claim, even if the value of a particular claim exceeds the limits of the subject insurance policy. Floridians should be aware of what is bad faith for an insurance company and how to protect themselves.
Why do Insurance Companies Commit Bad Faith?
Insurance companies have many reasons for denying insurance claims and/or refusing to pay or defend claims. In many cases, the insurance company is simply trying to save itself money. It is important to remember that an insurance company’s main goal is to pay out as little money as possible in satisfaction of a personal injury claim. If the insurance company can avoid paying anything on a claim or pay very little, it will be able to keep that money in-house to distribute to its shareholders.
Good Faith Versus Bad Faith Insurance Practices
Every insurance policy contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings. As such, an insurance company has an implied duty to do the following when the unexpected happens and a claim is presented under the policy:
- Evaluate the claim fairly and honestly.
- Settle any claims that have been filed against the covered individual if it can be done within the available coverage limit of the policy. Many insurance policies have bodily injury coverage limits of $30,000.00 or $100,000.00.
Bad faith on the part of an insurance company may include some or all of the following:
- Denying a claim outright or failing to pay or settle a claim that falls within the insurance policy’s limits, without asserting a reasonable basis
- Failing to promptly investigate a claim for insurance coverage
- Failing to properly investigate and/or defend a claim for insurance coverage
- Failing to provide a valid reason or justification for denying an insurance claim
- Using deceptive practices to deny an insurance claim
- Misrepresenting the terms of coverage or engaging in other misrepresentations, for the sole purpose of wrongfully denying an insurance claim
- Failing to offer the full monetary value for the claim (i.e. undervaluing the claim) or offering a low amount insufficient to compensate a personal injury plaintiff for the injuries and damages sustained
Legal Basis for a Bad Faith Claim Against an Insurance Company
The common law legal basis for a bad faith insurance claim is a breach of contract. In other words, the covered individual is alleging that the insurance company breached the insurance policy’s implied covenant of good faith and fair dealings when it denied coverage, refused to pay an insurance claim, or undervalued the claim. A claim for bad faith insurance practices also exists under .
Third-party Claims for Bad Faith Against Insurance Companies
One type of bad faith claim against an insurance company is a third-party claim. A third-party bad faith claim arises when an insurer fails to defend or pay a valid claim which has been brought against a covered individual by an injured plaintiff. In that case, the covered individual could bring a bad faith insurance claim directly against their own insurance company.
For example, let’s say that you get into a motorcycle accident. The other driver is at fault because they were speeding through a red light and hit you. Their insurance company refuses to pay out the claim for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The other driver may then decide to mount a third-party bad faith insurance claim against their own insurer because they believe that their policy should cover this motorcycle accident.
First-party Bad Faith Claims Against Insurance Companies
First-party bad faith claims against insurance companies are typically brought by injured plaintiffs in the personal injury context. A first-party bad faith claim provides a basis for injured plaintiffs with uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to sue their own insurance companies when the value of their injuries and damages exceeds the liability policy limits. It is also relevant in cases where the driver who caused the motor vehicle accident was uninsured or underinsured.
To make a claim against your own insurance company for uninsured motorist coverage (UM) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), all other available policies of insurance must first be exhausted. For example, if the driver who caused the accident had a $30,000.00 liability policy of insurance and the injured plaintiff had a UM/UIM insurance policy with a limit of $100,000.00, the $30,000.00 liability policy would first need to be exhausted before turning to the $100,000.00 UM/UIM policy.
On the other hand, if the driver who caused the motor vehicle accident was uninsured, you may be able to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim or personal injury lawsuit directly against your own insurance company from the start, to compensate you for your bodily injuries and damages.
Why Should I Hire Dolman Law Group to Represent Me?
If you believe you may have a claim for bad faith against your insurance company stemming from a motor vehicle accident, our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready and willing to assist you with filing your claim. Dolman Law Group routinely settles complex personal injury claims with stubborn insurance companies, so we are familiar with what it takes to negotiate with these carriers.
Our knowledgeable accident injury attorneys understand the ins and outs of dealing with insurance companies and their adjusters. We are familiar with the arguments insurance companies oftentimes assert when they deny claims or refuse to pay or defend them. Our team can review the facts and circumstances of your case, as well as the reasons for the insurance company’s decision, and may be able to file a bad faith insurance claim on your behalf.
You deserve a representative who has your best interests in mind. The personal injury lawyers of Dolman Law Group are not daunted by the prospect of holding a powerful insurance company accountable. As former clients will tell you, we have a track record of doing just that. If your insurance company has left you in a lurch with hefty medical bills, lost income, or even wrongful death costs, the personal injury attorneys of Dolman Law Group are the resourceful, respectful, and diligent team you want representing you.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Bad Faith Insurance Claim
Insurance companies improperly deny and/or refuse to pay valid insurance claims all the time. When this happens, you need experienced legal representation throughout your case. At Dolman Law Group, we are strategic negotiators focused on satisfying our clients’ needs.
Our experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys will be able to evaluate the basis for your bad faith claim against the insurance company. We can also assist you with filing a bad faith insurance lawsuit, if necessary. Our team will work tirelessly to successfully settle your bad faith insurance claim, including by representing you in court, if necessary.
To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, call the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today. We look forward to helping you seek the compensation you are owed from an insurance company that has acted in bad faith.