Insurance companies are supposed to have your back in case of an emergency. When these companies fail to provide what they promised, this is what’s known as operating in “bad faith.”
If you believe an insurance company has acted in bad faith by rejecting your claim or offering an insufficient settlement, you may have the right to file a lawsuit against the company.
Our knowledgeable attorneys at Consumer & Employment Law Group can help you navigate a stressful process against a business giant.
5 preliminary steps you can take in California
- Consult with a California “bad faith” attorney
Although there are some tasks you can do on your own, like gathering documents, an attorney can help you know what to look for and keep the timeline organized. Our team can also help you correspond with the insurance company for the best result possible.
- Gather all relevant documentation
This means gathering copies of your initial claim, any correspondence between you and the insurance company, police reports, medical records, bills, or other information relevant to your case.
- Review your policy
Make a copy of your original policy so you can identify if it was modified without you knowing. Looking it over can also help outline exactly what you are entitled to.
- Document denial of your claim or insufficient settlement offer
Having proof of the denial or lowball offer is important. Some companies can change the language later on so it looks like they had reasonable cause.
- Request a review of your case It could be that your insurance company made a mistake. Appeal your denial first and document everything you do. If they don’t correct their mistake, it might be time to start getting ready for the courtroom.
Determine what kind of “bad faith” case you have
First, you have to know who you are suing. Who acted in bad faith? Your own insurance company or another company that owes you benefits?
These claims are known as the following:
- First-party bad faith claims → This is when you, as the policyholder, file a suit against your own insurance company.
- Third-party bad faith claims → This is when you file a suit against another party’s insurance policy for failing to pay a claim that benefits you.
Once you know who you are suing, you must know what you are suing them for.
Depending on your case, it may be one or both of the following:
- Breach of Contract → An insurance company is obligated to pay what it owes you according to the terms of your policy. By unreasonably refusing your claim, they breached a contract and may be liable for damages, too.
- Tort Claim → If the refusal of the claim resulted in harm to you, you may also pursue a tort claim against the insurance company.
Get what you’re owed plus damages
When filing a bad faith claim, you may be eligible to recover the following damages:
- Compensatory → the original amount you are owed from the original claim
- Emotional Distress → if you have a tort claim, these are any non-economic damages that you experienced as a consequence of the insurance company denying your initial claim
- Economic Losses → losses or expenses as a result of the denial, like attorney fees
- Punitive Damages → In California, punitive damages may be rewarded to you in cases of bad faith conduct that is willful, egregious, and widespread. This can mean getting involved in a class action suit.
Contact our experienced attorneys at Consumer & Employment Law Group
Filing a bad faith claim can take a lot of preparation, planning, and drafting of proper paperwork and documents. But you can trust our experienced San Diego attorneys to fight back against insurance giants.
We know the tricks insurance companies use to delay, deny or underpay claims. Schedule a free consultation to get started with our team.