Consumers in the state of New York have substantial legal protection. For example, consumers can hold insurance companies liable for bad faith – that is, for unfair insurance practices. This is where an injury attorney can help.
If you’re injured in a car wreck or any other accident, or if your vehicle or other property – your home or business, for example – is damaged in an accident, your insurance company should compensate you quickly. Unfortunately, many consumers have to fight for their reimbursement.
Even accident victims who have been severely injured may have to deal with excuses, brush-offs, unreasonable delays, and other obstacles to acquiring the insurance settlement they need, deserve, and are entitled to under the law.
WHO CAN BE A VICTIM OF INSURANCE BAD FAITH?
Keep reading. Anyone can be injured or sustain property damage unexpectedly. You are going to learn exactly what insurance “bad faith” is, and you’ll also learn what your rights are if you become a victim of insurance bad faith here in New York.
Anyone who files a property or injury claim can potentially end up in a dispute with an insurance company. In Western New York, if you can’t get an insurance company to meet its obligation to you, an experienced Rochester personal injury attorney can take legal action on your behalf.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF INSURANCE BAD FAITH?
Bad faith is the legal term that describes what happens whenever insurance companies handle a property claim or an injury claim negligently or unfairly.
Insurance company practices that are particular instances of bad faith include:
1. persistent efforts to settle your claim for less than its actual worth
2. unwarranted delays in handling your claim
3. giving you false or disingenuous reasons for denying your claim
4. threatening to cancel coverage unless you agree to an insufficient settlement amount
5. persistently requesting more details as a stalling tactic
WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF INSURANCE BAD FAITH VICTIMS?
In some cases, merely hiring a good injury attorney will be sufficient to make an insurance company fulfill its obligation to you. Sometimes, a letter from your attorney will be all it takes.
Consumers in New York pay a great deal for insurance, so an insurance company’s bad faith is not acceptable.
If you file a claim for insurance bad faith, you may be awarded the settlement you were denied along with any additional damages that a court may order. However, you must be represented by a lawyer who has substantial experience advocating for victims of bad faith insurance practices.
By itself, the denial of an insurance claim is not necessarily an act of insurance bad faith. Bad faith claims must be based on an insurance company’s specific acts or failures to act.
WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO COUNTER INSURANCE BAD FAITH?
What is the best way to take effective action if an insurance company operates in bad faith in New York?
You can and probably should formally file a complaint with the New York Department of Financial Services, but the Department’s own website warns, “We cannot attempt to resolve or otherwise handle every individual complaint.”
WHY WILL YOU NEED A PERSONAL INJURY LAW FIRM’S HELP?
However, you should also obtain an attorney’s help for these reasons when you are dealing with insurance bad faith:
1. Only a NY personal injury lawyer can help you to determine if an insurance company is, in fact, operating in bad faith and if you qualify to file a lawsuit.
2. If your case goes to court, and if your claim prevails, the court will compel the insurance company to compensate you adequately.
3. If your insurance bad faith claim prevails, you may also be able to have your legal fees paid by the insurance company.
An insurance company owes good faith to every consumer who files a property or injury claim, whether the consumer is a policyholder or a third party. If you are victimized by bad faith insurance practices, have a reliable insurance attorney handle your case.
HOW WILL YOU AND YOUR ATTORNEY PROVE YOUR BAD FAITH CLAIM?
How will an accident attorney prove that you are a victim of insurance bad faith? As mentioned previously, a bad faith claim must be based on an insurance company’s specific acts or failures to act.
Here is how you can help your own bad faith insurance case:
1. When an accident happens that will generate an insurance claim, make and securely store copies of the relevant insurance documents as well as any correspondence that you have with the insurance company.
2. Make notes of every conversation with an insurance company representative and include the time, date, and name of the representative.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR AN INSURANCE BAD FAITH CLAIM TO PREVAIL?
For your insurance bad faith claim to prevail, you and your attorney will have to prove that an insurance company’s denial of benefits was more than a mere mistake. Instead, you’ll have to prove that it was intentional or negligent behavior.
Your lawyer will study the details of your property or injury claim and your subsequent bad faith claim. Your lawyer may also request from the insurance company the documents related to your claim as well as documents describing the company’s procedures and policies.
Representatives of the insurance company may be required to provide depositions or courtroom testimony. In some bad faith cases, your attorney may ask an authority in the insurance industry to testify as an expert witness about the industry’s practices and procedures.
Particularly when an insurance company has failed to follow its own procedures and policies – and when your attorney can prove it – an insurance bad faith lawsuit will very probably prevail.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Here is one last thing you must know. In Western New York, if you are injured in a traffic crash because another driver was negligent, you should take your case directly to a personal injury attorney, and then refer all inquiries from the insurance company to that law firm.
Property can be replaced, and in most cases, it is actually more practical to handle a property damage claim on your own. You, however, cannot be replaced. If you have been injured, let an experienced Rochester personal injury lawyer handle your injury claim from the very beginning.
And if you become a victim of bad faith insurance practices regarding any insurance claim, discuss your rights and options promptly with a reliable New York injury attorney. Any time you deal with an insurance company, having the help of a good injury lawyer is your right.