Orange County Insurance Bad Faith Lawyers
When you spend your hard-earned money on an insurance policy, you assume it will compensate you for a loss—no matter whether the loss is to your vehicle, your home, or your health. Unfortunately, it does not always work out this way. Insurance companies are not always charitable when reviewing claims and will even deny clients who have perfectly acceptable claims. If a claim is denied, most people file an appeal. And if the appeal is denied, they simply throw up their hands in frustration and give up. It is at these moments where Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie can help.
Bad faith insurance lawsuits are extremely complex battles and you should not fight one alone. Our Orange County insurance bad faith lawyers are ready and willing to take on your case to advocate for any damages that may be owed to you by your insurance company. We are a leader in bad faith litigation and have a demonstrated track record to prove it. Call us today at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free initial consultation and learn what options are available to you.
“...Your handling of both cases was conducted diligently and the most recent resolution on the bad faith claim was again quite remarkable...”
— J. J.
A promise of good faith and fair deals is implied in every insurance policy and this goes beyond mere payment for losses claimed under the policy. Under California law, when your insurance company breaches its duties under its insurance policy, it may be liable for the tort of bad faith. A jury may award compensatory, and in certain cases, punitive damages as a result of the mishandling of insurance claims, otherwise referred to as “insurance fraud.” While most people believe insurance fraud is only illegal for customers, it is actually a crime for insurance companies as well.
Bad faith can come in many forms, including:
- Offering less compensation than what a claim is worth
- Denying a claim when it is completely applicable under an insurance policy
- Delaying responding to a claimant or delaying in providing payment in an acceptable time frame
- Requiring an unnecessary amount of paperwork to review a claim or process payments
- Threatening a claimant with legal action in response to filing a claim
- Misrepresenting insurance laws
- Refusing to provide documentation detailing why a claim was denied
Bad faith insurance can affect all insurance policies, including:
- Life insurance
- Auto insurance, including UM/UIM, Liability Coverage, Personal Injury Protection, and Collision Coverage
- Renter's insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Fire insurance
- Health insurance
- Travel insurance
- Disability insurance
There are a wide variety of situations where an insurance company acts in bad faith, but the core element is that they have broken a contract with an insured individual, usually by denying a claim. When this occurs, a claimant may file an appeal and, if the insurance company has still acted in bad faith or rejects the appeal, file a lawsuit in a California court.
In the state of California, bad faith insurance is a crime and subject to an investigation from the California Department of Insurance. The California Unfair Claims Practice Act (Insurance Code Section 790.03 (h)) contains standards for the investigation and handling of insurance claims. The California Department of Insurance is responsible for enforcing this statute and related regulations. Please report all your complaints to the Department of Insurance. Not only must they investigate each claim, but every report of infraction is compiled for future reference. It is possible that the insurance company that has acted in bad faith towards you may have a history of such behavior.
Traditionally, when claimants have to deal with insurance companies, it is in the form of a personal injury claim against someone else’s liability policy. This includes everything from car accident claims to premises liability claims in order to receive compensation for an injury.
In contrast, a bad faith lawsuit is often against a claimant’s own insurer, such as a homeowner’s policy or collision coverage policy. In these situations, the claimant is attempting to recover compensation for a specific loss that is covered by a policy, such as damage to a home, medical coverage after an accident, or even legal fees if they are the defendant in a personal injury claim.
However, claimants can also file bad faith lawsuits alongside a personal injury claim. For example, if an at-fault insurance company claimed that the liability coverage for an accident was capped out at $50,000, when the actual policy limit is $100,000, the claimant may file a bad faith lawsuit, even if they initially accepted the original settlement without knowing about the real policy limit.
In addition to recovering compensation from a bad faith insurance company, a jury may award punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded if the jury determines an insurance company acted in bad faith or did so with oppression, fraud, or malice and the insurance company may be liable for punitive damages because of the actions of its employees. If the company has a history of acting in bad faith, you are far more likely to be awarded punitive damages, which is why it is important to contact the California Department of Insurance.
Bad faith insurance cases are complicated and require a thorough understanding of an insurance company’s policy to successfully litigate. Speaking with an attorney can allow you to fully understand the ramifications of the insurance company’s actions and determine how strong of a case you have. Before moving forward with a lawsuit, your attorney can advise you on the appeal process and review what evidence you have against the insurance company. If the insurance company still denies your claim after an appeal, an attorney can then work with you to build a bad faith lawsuit against them for both compensatory and punitive damages.
Moving forward with a bad faith claim requires skill, expertise, and a critical eye for details—exactly what the legal minds at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie have. If you believe an insurance company has acted in bad faith, contact the Orange County insurance bad faith lawyers immediately. We have over 40 years of experience advocating for the rights of Orange County residents against fraudulent insurance companies. Call us at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free case evaluation and learn whether or not you have a case.
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