Protecting Clients Throughout the South Bay
You probably do not think about your insurance coverage until you pay the premium and make a claim. It is just something you know is there, and you assume you can count on coverage if and when you need it. That may be a false assumption, as insurance companies are primarily interested in protecting their bottom line. Your insurance company may be far more interested in getting your premium than paying for a legitimate claim and attempt to take advantage of you. AgnewBrusavich helps people like you when insurance companies fail to live up to their obligations.
What is Bad Faith in California?
In California, insurance companies can be sued for “bad faith” if they unreasonably handle a policyholder's claim. In every insurance contract, there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which requires companies to treat policy holders fairly.
Some examples of insurance bad faith include:
- Unreasonable denial of a covered insurance claim
- Underpaying an insurance claim
- Unreasonable refusal to defend you if you are sued despite your liability coverage
- Unreasonable delay in paying your insurance claim
- Refusing to authorize reasonable and necessary medical treatment
- Failing to conduct a fair, objective, and thorough investigation into your claim
- Arbitrary or capricious interpretation of the policy or the facts of a claim
- Providing a misleading response/denial letter
- If the insured is in a difficult financial situation, to use that as leverage in negotiating a settlement more favorable to the company than what is justified by the facts
- Abusive tactics and threats of charging the insured with a crime to avoid the payment of a claim
- Failure to make reasonable efforts to keep the insured informed as to the status of the claim
What Can I Do When My Claim is Denied?
Perhaps one of the most common forms of bad faith we see from insurance companies is the wrongful denial of someone's claim. Companies may provide a variety of possible excuses as to why they denied your claim in order to minimize costs. If you believe your claim was wrongfully denied, it's best to hire one of our professional and experienced attorneys to investigate the situation.
While it is possible for a denial to be legitimate, we can determine whether the insurance company was acting in bad faith and are attempting to avoid paying your claim. Going up against large insurance companies can seem daunting, but with an established law firm in your corner, you may be able to prove that injustice occurred and you deserve to be compensated.
Damages Available for Those Impacted by Bad Faith
If an insurance company unreasonably handles your insurance claim, that implied covenant is breached, and the insurance company could be subject to legal action.
In addition to recovering the direct financial loss suffered due to the insurance company's actions (or failure to act), if you prove the company unreasonably handled your claim, you could recover the following types of damages:
- Emotional distress
- Reasonable attorney's fees
- Lost earnings from your business
- Medical expenses if the stress from the bad faith harmed your health
- Opportunity cost in your business
- Lost use of your property
- Punitive damages (damages meant to punish the insurance company for its acts) if you can show the insurance company acted with malice, oppression, or fraud as defined by California law, and it was approved or ratified by a managing agent of your insurance company
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
If you think you are the victim of an insurance company's efforts to limit its exposure to your claim, there is a limited time frame to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations, or the time limit a plaintiff has to file a claim against a party in the court of law, depends on the nature of the claim.
- If it is based on a breach of the insurance contract, there is a four-year time period.
- If the claims are for bad faith, the time frame is two years, and that starts when the insurer refuses to arbitrate the matter.
Failing to file in the applicable period will, in all likelihood, result in the dismissal of your claims.
Our insurance bad faith attorneys in Torrance are ready to seek justice on your behalf. Call us for help in English or Spanish today at (310) 793-1400. We've been devoted to serving our community since 1984.