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Do I need a bad faith insurance attorney

Redding, CA |

A girl came to my home with a friend of mine in the middle of the night. She was drunk and high on meth. She attempted to kiss my service dog and fell on him in the process causing herself to get bit by my dog. The insurance company did minimal investigation, refused to interview relevant witnesses (the man she came to my home with as I did not know she was here until I heard my dog yelp), and have opted to make a nuisance settlement offer. I feel that this is bad faith on the part of my insurance company as they are making payment on a provoked dog bite claim, something under California law I do not believe I am liable for. My policy states that they will pay claim I am legally liable for "AND" (NOT OR) that they have the right to make settlement offers on claims they find appropriate.

Was the Dog Provoked? A dog owner may be able to successfully defend a lawsuit by showing that the injured person provoked the dog. A person may unintentionally provoke a dog, too. If, for example, you accidentally step on a dog's tail, that's provocation. (Brans v. Extrom, 266 Mich. App. 216 (2005).) Did the Injured Person Know the Risk of Injury?A dog owner may also avoid liability by proving that the injured person knew there was a risk of injury from the dog, but voluntarily took that risk. The theory is that someone who knowingly took the risk and was injured can't later hold the dog's owner responsible for such foolhardiness. Some other states (California and Illinois, for example) do allow this defense in lawsuits based on the state's dog-bite statute. Some state courts have yet to consider the question. (Nelson v. Hall, 211 Cal. Rptr. 668 (Cal. App.1985); Vanderlei v. Heideman, 403 N.E.2d 756 (Ill. App 1980).

Attorney Answers 8

Posted

No, under these facts you do not have a bad faith claim. Insurance companies have the sole discretion to settle a case or not..A nuisance value settlement is just that - minimal amount of money to ditch a lousy case rather than spend a ton to fight it in court..There is nothing you can do about it..I understand your moral issue about giving a meth addict money for something she provoked, but there are other issues at play..You just have to let it go and be glad you aren't wasting more time in depositions, discovery and appearing at trial...Dog bites are tricky and the issues aren't as clear cut as you might think, to your detriment...

Legal disclaimer: Please be advised that the advice provided does not create any attorney/client relationship; that due to the various state laws that the information provided is a general overview of the law, which might not be applicable to you, based upon the laws of your state. We will not file anything on your behalf nor protect any statute of limitations which might arise and recommend that you IMMEDIATELY consult legal counsel for adviceThis response does not constitute or make an attorney-client relationship as it is made for general purposes; answering attorney does not possess enough information to inform recipient of the applicable statute of limitations. You may also contact Mr. Hiden at (619) 296-5884 or by email at "dhiden@hrollp.com"

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Posted

My homeowners insurance rates have skyrocketed now, many homeowners insurance companies wont cover me now, so yes this is costing me a lot of money. I thought that insurance companies are only allowed to settle claims I am legally liable for? I am aware that dog bit cases are not clear cut, I just do not know how an absolute stranger can come to my home for the purpose of smoothing meth and then fall on my dog and sue me. California law protects me with provoked dog bite claims

Posted

They are acting as they are entitled.

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Posted

How is an insurance company doing as they are entitled by not investigating or interviewing and making a nuisance settlement when I am not legally liable for a provoked dog bite claim. We can prove she was at my home with a friend of ours for the primary purpose of smoking methamphetamine and she was plastered when she arrived at my home before eventually falling on my dog. I thought you pay homeowners insurance to protect you not so that they will pay claims you are not legally responsible for which will permanently affect my future rates and coverage.

Posted

I do not think you have a bad faith claim unless the actions of your company cause you to lose money. It sounds like your insurance company has made a business decision to pay a minimal amount and avoid the possibility of future expensive litigation that you would win after spending a lot of time money and effort. Per your policy language, they have the right make settlement offers on claims they find appropriate. Your company has decided to pay a very small amount now to avoid spending more money later.

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Posted

My homeowners insurance rates have skyrocketed now, many homeowners insurance companies wont cover me now, so yes this is costing me a lot of money. I thought that insurance companies are only allowed to settle claims I am legally liable for?

Posted

Based on the facts that you describe it does not appear that you have a bad faith on your hands. A bad faith claim would arise if your insurance company was not protecting your interests based on your contractual agreement. In fact, by paying out a minimal amount, they are actually protecting you from being personally liable for any damages caused to the young woman. Based on California law regarding dog bites, you could be held responsible for her medical bills and pain and suffering. Once she accepts the settlement offer from your insurance company, she will sign away any claim for further compensation. Good luck!

Bergener & Associates | 1-800-881-2021 | info@bergenerlaw.com | http://www.bergenerlaw.com | The information provided must not be considered legal advice. Comments made on websites such as Avvo.com are provided for information purposes only. Bergener & Associates, PLC is a personal injury practice serving accident victims and their families in the State of California only. No individuals should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any answers to questions without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice from an attorney licensed in their state. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between any attorney at Bergener & Associates and any recipient.

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Posted

Under California dog bite laws a claimant can not collect under a provoked dog bite. The fact that she negligently fell on a dog at 4am in its own home while drunk and high on meth in an attempt to kiss it in its head. The insurance company dropped me upon this claim being filed, other insurance companies either will not cover me or will only do so with extremely high rates and a dog bite exclusion. This is not in my best interest at all. Per California law, and the definition of bad faith, I feel their lack of interviews, and lack of investigation of provable facts is the outright meaning of bad faith. I felt by paying insurance to protect me from frivolous claim, I did not think they had a right to do this

Posted

Your ins co has a duty to protect its insured, you, from being sued or having a judgment against you. They are trying to do that by settling. They also don't want to waste money and your time by having to fight the case in court. If you don't like it talk to them about releasing them from any obligation on the claim so you can hire your own atty to fight the case. I wouldn't recommend you do that.

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Posted

No. Don't concern yourself with your your insurance company resolves claims.

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Posted

You are not, and it's hard for anyone in your position to be, objective. Were it your money, I am confidant that you wouldn't be nearly so inclined to play hard ball. You knew the woman was your visitor and presumably quickly perceived her meth-type behavior. Your dog seems blameless, but you may not be. Remember, the woman is a meth user and thus probably isn't rational and certainly is just as non-objective. Move on.

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Posted

If you think you need a bad faith attorney then you should consult with a bad faith attorney in your jurisdiction to find out if you are right. Consult competent counsel if you require more information for your specific situation.

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