Every year Americans give billions of dollars to insurance companies in premiums, with the expectation that they will be protected in case of a serious car accident or catastrophic event. However, when that unfortunate event occurs, many insurance companies may violate the policy contract terms, such as denying or low-balling legitimate claims. These unreasonable actions are known as “insurance bad faith.”
When you buy an insurance policy, whether it concerns your health, life, home, or vehicle, you and the insurance company are entering a contract. The contractual obligations of the insurance company are based on their legal duty to handle your policy and any of your claims with “good faith.” This duty is often referred to as the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” which exists in every insurance contract by operation of law. By law, the insurer’s duty includes:
• Providing the complete and accurate insurance coverage that is described in the policy.
• Acting toward the policyholder in ways that are fair and timely.
• Considering the interests of the policyholder as equal to the insurance company’s financial interests.
Insurance bad faith occurs when an insurance company does not abide by the terms and conditions of the policyholder’s policy and willfully refuses to pay or low-balls a legitimate claim.
Suppose someone is seriously injured in a car accident and the insurance company of the at-fault driver has a $75,000 policy limit for liability coverage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company refuses to make a good faith settlement offer.
As a result, the attorney of the injured person sues the at-fault driver and obtains a $500,000 jury verdict. The at-fault driver is now responsible for $425,000 in damages above the $75,000 insurance policy limit. In a case like this, our personal injury attorneys will pursue the at-fault driver’s insurance company for the amount in excess of the policy limit ($425,000 in this example) for refusing to make a good faith settlement offer before the trial.
Other examples of insurance bad faith include:
• Failing to promptly investigate or perform due diligence
• Unreasonable failure to defend a policyholder who has been sued under a policy containing a liability provision
• Delaying or denying crucial medical care
• Unreasonable denial or termination of an insurance claim that should have been paid
• Giving an unreasonably low offer to compensate justified damages
• Unreasonable delay in making payments to the policyholder
• Using unreasonable interpretations in translating policy language
• Refusing to settle the case or reimburse you for the entirety of your loss, etc.
• Unreasonably attempting to under-settle or lowball the payment of a claim
When you purchase an insurance policy and if you have a covered claim, you are entitled to the full benefits of the policy. If the insurance company refuses or delay payment, you may have a bad faith insurance claim. The law requires any insurance company to act in good faith and deal fairly with their customers, but unfortunately, insurance companies act mostly on their own behalf and often try to avoid paying.
If you believe your insurance company has failed to provide you the coverage promised provided by your policy, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. You may be able to sue for the amount of the claim as well as any subsequent damages incurred as a result of the claim being denied.
If the insurance company deliberately denied a valid claim in order to avoid paying out on that claim, you may also be awarded punitive damages. Attorneys who try bad faith insurance cases are the professionals to turn to when you have been hurt by an insurance company’s practices.
Due to the complex nature of insurance contracts and the experienced attorneys insurance companies hire in their defense, few attorneys or law firms are equipped to handle and try insurance bad faith legal claims. Make sure you find the right trial attorney with experience handling cases similar to your circumstances.
The attorneys at Abbott Law Group, P.A. have been holding insurance companies accountable for more than 34 years. F. Catfish Abbott is well known by defense lawyers and insurance companies as being a formidable opponent. Under his leadership, the attorneys at Abbott Law Group recently collected more than two million dollars (before deduction for fees and expenses) on a $50,000 policy using bad faith principles.
This is just one example of the many bad faith claims Abbott Law Group has successfully litigated. Abbott Law Group welcomes inquiries from and the opportunity to work with other attorneys and law firms to help maximize client recovery. We often advise other lawyers on how to win significant verdicts in insurance bad faith cases and welcome case referrals from attorneys throughout Florida and the United States. Abbott Law Group has the professional experience and the financial ability to take on the largest insurance companies in bad faith claims. Furthermore, we will strive to alleviate much of your stress by dealing directly with the insurance company so you don’t have to. Contact us now for a free consultation to discuss your potential insurance bad faith claim.