Bad Faith Litigation Lawyer
If you have ever had to settle a claim with your insurance company, you know that you are pretty much at the mercy of the insurance adjuster. You trust that their expertise, strength in negotiating, experience with similar claims, and available financial resources are enough to make sure your settlement is fair and in line with industry standard. Most of the time, the courts will agree and find that the insurance company is being fair and operating in good faith.
If you do not feel your insurance company acted fairly or reasonably when investigating, processing, or paying your insurance claim, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the insurance company.
What Constitutes Bad Faith?
The basic components of what constitutes bad faith in some states include behavior that is ‘without proper cause or unreasonable’. A different or more narrow view is held in other states, stating that only finding liability when a claim is denied is not considered reasonably debatable. Insurance companies are well aware the courts feel this way. Adding to the confusion is the fact that some states view a bad faith claim as a breach of contract, while other states consider it a tort.
The holder of the insurance policy has to prove two specific elements in order to prove the common law bad faith claim:
– You filed a claim with your insurance company and it was denied. You have to prove this claim was valid and produce documentation stating the insurance company denied the claim. In some states, you may be required that you make another attempt to get your claim approved before you can file a lawsuit.
– The reason your claim was denied was unreasonable. This is done by objectively evaluating the circumstances surrounding the event and the facts as they were when the decision was made.
There are particular actions that the court has deemed bad conduct. Certain considerations are examined to see if the insurance company acted in bad faith. These factors include:
– Failing to let you know they received the claim and not acting promptly to respond to it
– The provisions in the insurance policy and the facts are both misrepresented
– Insurance company did not approve or deny the claim within a reasonable period of time after the insured provided evidence of loss
– The insurance company does not give a rational reason for the claim’s denial
– There were not acceptable standards for processing and investigating claims
Consult an Attorney
If you have had a claim denied by your insurance company that you feel was unreasonable, or that they acted in bad faith, contact an experienced attorney, like a bad faith litigation lawyer in Chicago, IL.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Childress, Lockus, & Plunkett for their insight into bad faith.