Bad faith insurance claims arise when a personal injury claimant believes that the insurance company isn’t handling the claim fairly or according to the guidelines of the state. It happens more frequently than we’d like to think and it comes in many forms.
What constitutes a bad faith insurance claim?
Insurance companies are required to act in good faith. This means they must pay personal injury claims when warranted and must not unnecessarily delay the process or put up roadblocks to financial recovery.
Some examples of how an insurance company may act in bad faith include:
· wrongly denying a claim;
· a long, unreasonable delay in paying the settlement;
· cancelling the claimant’s policy suddenly or without reason;
· refusing to conduct an investigation;
· not keeping the claimant informed of the status of the claim; and
· offering a settlement drastically and unreasonably lower than the claim is worth.
Major Elements in a Bad Faith Insurance Claim
A bad faith claim must meet two elements. To successfully prove a bad faith claim, the claimant will have to show that the insurance company both acted unreasonably and knew that the claim was treated unfairly.
First, the insurance company must have acted unreasonably when handling the claim. Examples of unreasonable behaviors when handling a claim are listed above. Second, the insurance company must also have had knowledge that it handled the claim unreasonably and unfairly. Mistakes and oversights are not bad faith.
In other words, the insurance company must have been purposely trying to pull one over on you. Oversights such as missed calls or lost paperwork won’t satisfy the elements of a bad faith claim. You can speak with an Arvada bad faith claim attorney if you’re unsure of whether or not you have a valid claim on your hands.
How Insurance Companies Defend Themselves against Bad Faith Claims
In many cases, in order to protect themselves, insurance companies may try to say that the claimant also acted in an unreasonable manner when it came to resolving the case.
Actions in which they may argue the claimant participated include things such as: withholding information; not allowing the insurance adjuster to fully conduct an investigation; or falsifying documents
If you’re contemplating bringing forth a bad faith claim, make sure to proceed only after you’ve secured legal counsel. You don’t want to risk going to court without an attorney representing you, especially if the insurance company claims you also acted in bad faith. For instance, recently in Denver, bad faith claims against two insurers in an underinsured motorist (UIM) dispute were dismissed.
This happened because the insured filed the lawsuit and the judge determined that the companies were not responsible for negotiations or payments until the suit was resolved (Robert Baker v. Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Co.). This is a situation that a claimant may be unaware existed but an accident attorney would.
Discussing your Case with an Arvada Attorney
To determine if you meet the elements of a bad faith claim, contact our Arvada injury firm as soon as possible. We can look over the details of your case and see if it was indeed handled in bad faith.
Accident attorney D.J. Banovitz has helped numerous clients successfully resolve their bad faith insurance claims and get the settlements to which they are entitled. Call us today for a free consultation at 303-300-5060.