How to Identify and Respond to Bad Faith
By Chris Dixon
If you’ve been injured in an accident and file a claim against the at-fault or negligent party’s insurance company, the insurer is legally required to act in good faith. Both the plaintiff’s and the negligent party’s insurance companies are supposed to act fairly and faithfully to their clients and do what’s best within the scope of the claim. If an insurer doesn’t, you may have to file a separate lawsuit against the company itself and/or the at-fault party.
“Bad faith” lands in a dicey area of the law. It’s important to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible if you’re in one of these situations. Your insurance company should be on your side and the at-fault party’s on their side. If either of these circumstances arises, get legal help immediately to prevent a claim from being dismissed due to bad faith insurance practices.
What is Bad Faith?
Insurance bad faith or fraud refers to any sort of unfair or bad practices done by an insurer. Here are a few of the most common types of bad faith insurance claimants face:
- Delaying payment to an insured client
- Offering a low settlement or compensation that what the policy allows
- Denying a victim, their family, or a company benefits guaranteed in a policy
- Discounting a payment without reason
- Offering a settlement that is much lower than expected
- Failing to respond in a reasonable amount of time
- Ignoring emails, letters, and calls from a claimant or client
- Requesting more information than neccessary (especially medical records
- Refusing to provide just cause for offering a lower settlement
Knowing what kind of tactics constitute bad faith is essential to winning an insurance claim. If the insurance company (either your insurer or the negligent party’s) is being unresponsive, unreasonable, or ignoring you, it’s crucial to contact an injury claims attorney right away. An experienced lawyer will know how to approach these insurers and will help you secure a bigger reward for your injury claim. If an insurance company continues to act in bad faith, you may have to file a separate lawsuit against the provider who, for all intents and purposes, is acting negligently.
What Do I Do if an Insurance Company Acts in Bad Faith?
One of the best ways to deal with bad faith is to document everything. Not only your damages and expenses, but every piece of correspondence between you and the claims adjuster. Keeping a journal or requesting certified mail may seem excessive, but it’s worth the effort if you have to file a lawsuit against the insurance company for acting in bad faith.
While rejecting and countering insurance settlements, it’s also important to have the claims adjust justify any modifications they made to your original demand for settlement. If they disagree with how much you claimed in lost wages due to an accident, ask them why. If they want medical records that seem unnecessary in the scope of the claim, ask them why. Asking is always safer in the long run than not saying anything.
How Does Bad Faith Affect the Negotiation Process?
Fighting a claim on your own is difficult enough. If the insurer you’re seeking compensation from adds on bad faith tactics, things can get very complicated. They may delay information, request more than they need, ignore your claim, and keep offering lower and lower settlements. At this point, it’s almost better to find a seasoned insurance claims lawyer to help you deal with difficult insurance claims.
Contact an Injury Claims Lawyer ASAP
If an insurer is being unreasonable and difficult with your claim, it’s essential to reach out to an experienced lawyer as soon as you can. Insurers can use bad faith tactics to dissuade claimants from pursuing a settlement. They might offer a much lower settlement in hopes that you’ll accept it and not deal with the hassle. You can contact the Dixon Injury Firm today if you have any questions about the insurance claims process. We specialize in car and truck accidents, dog bites, and other personal injury cases. Also, our firm offers free case reviews and consultations to Southern Illinois and St. Louis victims.