Auto insurance adjusters are experts at denying claims or paying as little as possible when their customers get into accidents.
Adjusters are trained to always protect the insurers' bottom line by deflecting liability, creating doubt about any injuries that were suffered, and challenging the costs of any damage caused by an accident.
They'll argue it's just business. They want to make certain they are obligated to pay before they do. But this resistance to paying claims makes an already bad situation even worse for people who need money to pay medical bills and other costs after being hurt in a car accident that wasn't even their fault.
And this "business model" sometimes crosses a line when insurers deny a claim in "bad faith."
What Is an Insurance Bad Faith Claim?
Under US and SC law, insurance companies have a duty to meet an "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing" in every contract. When they don't, they open themselves up to lawsuits for acting in bad faith.
Just because an insurance company denies a claim you think they should pay, that doesn't mean they're acting in bad faith. Sometimes, a court will agree that they are not liable for paying your claim. Other times, a denial is the result of a mistake or a genuine misunderstanding of the circumstances of the accident. This is not bad faith.
But, when an insurer improperly denies a legitimate claim you've made, you can sue the insurance company for bad faith.
Examples of bad faith include:
- Refusing to make a reasonable settlement offer;
- Insisting on an unreasonable interpretation of a policy;
- Refusing to defend a lawsuit;
- Denying a claim with no explanation;
- Using delay tactics to force a plaintiff to accept a smaller settlement;
- Taking too long to handle a claim; and
- Failing to investigate a claim adequately.
Can I Sue My Insurance Company for Bad Faith?
If your insurer denies a claim in bad faith, you can file a lawsuit to get the benefits you already paid, any additional damages resulting from their bad faith, and, in some cases, punitive damages against the insurance company.
What if the Other Driver's Insurance Company Acts in Bad Faith?
If you are injured in a wreck and the at-fault driver's insurance company denies your claim, SC does not allow you to sue the insurer. But your SC bad faith attorney can help you get around this.
If we get a verdict against the at-fault driver that exceeds their policy limits, they will be responsible for paying the "excess verdict" above policy limits - money that they may not have been liable for if their insurance company had settled their claim in good faith.
We can use this to negotiate: We agree not to come after their assets if they transfer their right to sue their insurance company to you. If they agree - and they probably will, because no one wants to lose their savings or their home - we will then file a bad faith lawsuit against the insurer.
If they decline, we go after their assets for the excess verdict.
We not only demand the insurance company pay what it owed for the original claim, we will also seek damages for costs that resulted from the bad faith denial and for emotional distress caused by the denial. We will also seek punitive damages if we can prove the insurer deliberately or recklessly behaved in a way that hurt their customer.
If your insurance company causes you harm by refusing to act in good faith, the insurance bad faith lawyers at Axelrod and Associates may be able to file a lawsuit and recover damages from your insurance company.
On the other hand, if you were in a car wreck and the other driver's insurance company acts in bad faith, we may be able to get the defendant's bad faith claim assigned to you, allowing you to sue their insurance company for bad faith...