Articles Posted in Bad Faith Insurance

The U.S. 11th District Court of Appeals recently affirmed a $1 million+ damage award for Florida bad faith insurance against a workers’ compensation insurer that refused to pay the policy limit for a construction accident injury that left the worker permanently paralyzed from the waist down. The case underscores the recourse available when insurers shirk their duties in an attempt to avoid paying rightful claims.Florida bad faith insurance

What is Florida Bad Faith Insurance?

Insurance companies – auto, health, workers’ compensation, homeowners’, property, life, disability, etc. – owe a duty to those they insure to act in good faith. That doesn’t mean they issue a payout for every claim. Rather, it means they can’t renege on their contractual obligations by engaging in dishonest practices to try to lowball or refuse to pay legitimate claims – or frustrate claimants so much with unnecessary red tape that they give up. Florida bad faith insurance claims can be made when an insurer fails to initiate a proper, timely investigation, tampers with witnesses, withholds evidence, makes unreasonable demands of claimants, fails to promptly settle meritorious claims, refuses to pay at all, offers to settle for far less than what the case is clearly worth, or drags their feet on payments.

As outlined in F.S. 624.155, Florida bad faith insurance encompasses a host of unethical practices, but it all comes down to this: The insurer did not attempt in good faith to settle claims when it could and should have done so had it been acting honestly and fairly toward the insured or other claimants.

As our Palm Beach bad faith insurance lawyers can explain, insurers can be maddening to deal with – and they’re clearly interested more in their own bottom line than much else. But whether their tactics fall under the umbrella of bad faith is a question for a lawyer.

Insurers tend to walk a fine line because while they aren’t eager to pay up, they also recognize that a proven bad faith insurance claim could result in them paying much more – possibly triple damages plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and court costs.

If you think an insurance company is treating you unfairly, it’s best to talk to a lawyer first. Sometimes simply involving a legal advocate who fully understands the law, the insurer’s obligations, and the claimant’s rights, is enough for the insurer to straighten up and fly right. But if it’s not, you will get the benefit of a legal expert confirming it for you – and helping you to strategically gather evidence to make a case for bad faith if it comes down to that. Continue reading

You faithfully pay your monthly or quarterly insurance premiums for your car, boat or house. But when it comes to paying losses in a covered accident or event, insurers suddenly aren’t quite so on your side. They do still, however, have a legal responsibility to act in good faith (fairly and honestly) in their dealings with you. If they don’t, they can face penalties for bad faith insurance. Florida insurance settlement lawyer

The question of whether to contact a lawyer to help you settle insurance claims is one that sometimes arises too late in the game. It’s true that most smaller, simpler claims you can probably settle on your own without too much hassle. But for claims that have already been denied, it should be noted that insurers, once reaching this position, rarely alter their position unless they receive new evidence. This is why for any sort of higher-stakes insurance claims, we recommend consulting with an experienced South Florida attorney before you start negotiating.

Some examples of insurance situations one might call for legal assistance include:

  • Claims that are expensive or complex.
  • Claims in which serious injuries are involved.
  • Claims in which you and the insurance adjuster disagree early on.
  • Substantial claims including major losses or extensive damages.
  • Claims where fault may be difficult to establish.

The fact is, insurers aren’t shy about denying claims with shaky reasoning – particularly if the client isn’t represented by a lawyer. They’re much less likely to pull a stunt and deny a valid claim if you have a lawyer working for you. It will also help you avoid unintentionally harming your case. (Seemingly innocent-sounding inquiries could actually be tactics to attempt to lower the value of your claim.) Insurance agents are experienced, well paid and know what to look for – and they’ll be looking for any possible weakness in your case from that very first initial call to open a claim. Continue reading

A recent analysis by the Insurance Research Council reveals Florida is No. 3 in the nation when it comes to bad faith insurance lawsuits for claims of bodily injury liability in car accidents, at an additional claim cost of some $7.6 billion in the last dozen years.Florida bad faith insurance attorney

What is bad faith insurance? Let’s start with the fact that the majority of Floridians are covered by some type of insurance, whether it’s auto insurance, home insurance, health insurance, boater’s insurance, flood insurance, commercial liability insurance or life insurance. When you obtain an insurance policy, you enter into a contract with an insurer. You agree to abide the terms of that policy – pay the premium each month on time, etc. – while the insurer agrees to cover the losses or damages – up to a certain amount –  resulting from circumstances as outlined your policy.

Insurers act in bad faith when they try to walk back on their obligations to you, sometimes by refusing to pay a legitimate claim or even agreeing to investigate it. Other times, they will take an unreasonable amount of time to process a claim or offer you far less than they claim is worth, knowing full well you should be paid more. It goes beyond simply a disagreement with an adjuster or even an honest mistake. Florida takes bad faith insurance very seriously, and per F.S. 624.155, an insurer found to have engaged in bad faith can be compelled to pay not just compensatory damages (to make up for your losses) but also punitive damages – up to triple the amount you were originally owed.

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