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...
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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.
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!
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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.
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.
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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