Is an Insurance Company Acting in Bad Faith?
When you have been hurt in an accident, you are relying on insurance to come through and help you. No doubt you need an insurance settlement to cover all of the medical expenses you have accumulated, but you may need your recovery for much more. Many people who are injured in an accident need the insurance settlement to seek mental health care for the emotional trauma of the situation. Others who have suffered a permanent or long-term disability may need to move or renovate their home to accommodate their needs. And the truth is that many people who are hurt are off work for a significant period of time and have their normal, everyday bills to pay. If you were injured and the insurance company is wrongly delaying or refusing to pay you a fair settlement, the insurer may be treating you with bad faith. When this is the case, you should contact the experienced Charlotte NC personal injury attorneys of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. right away to learn your legal options to recover.
Good Faith vs. Bad Faith
When you are working with an insurance company, whether it is your insurer or another party’s company, that business has a duty to treat you fairly. The law has found that insurance companies agree to treat their clients and third-party claimants honestly, which means they cannot lie about what is covered or allowed by the policy. Under North Carolina law, these companies must thoroughly review a claim and do so within a reasonable period of time. For instance, if you filed a claim with your auto insurer after an accident, the insurer needs to investigate that accident right away – no more than a couple of weeks. If it turns out they did not investigate the accident for two months, long after evidence is gone, they may not be treating you appropriately under the law.
Insurance companies do not agree and are not legally obligated to approve every claim. However, how they go about determining when a claim is approved or denied matters, and why they choose to approve or deny a claim is very important. An insurance company must review a claim properly and deny it on honest grounds. Anything else could be signs of bad faith or deceptive business practices.
If your initial insurance claim was denied, contact the experienced attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A.. After discussing the situation, the lawyers can help you appeal the decision with the insurance company – giving the business the opportunity to rightfully approve the claim and work out a settlement. However, if there are signs of illegal practices by the insurer, the attorneys at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. will explain your legal options.
Signs of Bad Faith & Unfair Dealings
Even when people understand that insurers must work with them, it can be hard to tell what is merely red tape and what is an actual sign of bad faith. Insurance companies can be tricky to work with because they have multiple offices and departments. Every insurer is also made up of people who can make small mistakes. A simple mistake may be problematic and delay your claim, but it is unlikely to rise to the level of being illegal conduct. If you are wondering if your work with an insurer is normal or problematic, consider these common signs of bad faith:
- The insurer does not investigate your claim right away
- The insurer does not investigate your claim thoroughly
- You are harassed or insulted during the investigation
- The insurance company does not answer or respond to your calls
- The insurance company does not respond to emails or letters
- The insurance adjuster will not answer questions about the policy
- The insurer demands unnecessary paperwork or documentation
- Your paperwork is lost or misplaced for a significant period of time
- Your claim decision is unreasonably delayed
- The insurer threatens you in any way
- The insurer gives you a “lowball” estimate of your loss or settlement offer
- The insurance company denies your claim without an explanation
Breach of Contract
When an insurer refuses to pay you even though you have a valid claim under the policy, you may have the right to sue the insurance company for breach of contract. You have this right whether it is your insurance company that you had a policy with or if you are a third-party claimant. This type of claim does not necessarily say the insurer treated you unfairly in any way other than that it refused to abide by the insurance policy.
If you use this legal avenue, you will seek damages that are controlled by the insurance policy. You are asking the court to give you what the insurance company should have given you. You are not able to seek additional damages against the insurer other than the cost of litigation regarding this claim. You can seek attorney’s fees and court costs.
Suing Under Bad Faith or Unfair and Deceptive Acts
In addition to suing an insurer for breach of contract, you may have a claim against an insurance company for Unfair and Deceptive Practices under North Carolina law or the act of bad faith – both of which can give you extra-contractual damages. This means you can seek damages from the insurance company on top of what you should have received as a settlement.
Under the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Practices Act, you and your attorney must prove that the insurer’s behavior was an unfair or deceptive act or that it violated a portion of Chapter 58, North Carolina insurance law. This can be difficult, but if you are confident the insurance company’s actions rise to this level, you can seek treble damages in this lawsuit.
Bad faith is when a tortious act occurs alongside the breach of contract. A tortious act is any civil, wrongful act, other than a breach of claim that injures another person. If the insurance company acted in bad faith toward you, you can sue them for the settlement you should have received as well as for punitive damages.
A Charlotte Insurance Dispute Attorney Can Help
If you have questions about working with an insurance company after an accident, call the skilled personal injury attorneys in Charlotte NC at Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. They have decades of combined experience and are happy to answer all of your questions. If you are being treated unfairly, they will ensure you know your rights and legal options to recovery.