If you’ve ever had to deal with an insurance company, you don’t need any reminders that they are for-profit enterprises that are very reluctant to part with money. Most of us buy insurance to help and protect us when someone hits our car, we get ill, our roof suffers hail damage, and so on. As consumers of insurance products, we’re obliged to act in good faith by honoring our end of the agreement by paying our premium on time and in full every billing cycle. When insurance companies fail to honor their commitment to their clients and deny a claim, drag their feet in paying a claim, or fail to act in good faith in any other way, they can be held liable for acting in bad faith. If you believe that your insurance company is acting in bad faith, don’t sign any documents thinking that their settlement is the best you can do. Call experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer Steven H. Heisler before you sign.
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Few insurance analysts would disagree that today’s insurance system is in many ways broken. If you or a family member has been wrestling with an uncooperative insurance company, you may be able to fight back and get monies owed by filing an insurance bad faith claim. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about this process.
1. What is the difference between a first party claim and a third party claim?
A first party insurance claim is a claim against your own insurance company. A claim to your insurance company to receive benefits from uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, providing that you purchased it, would be a first party claim. A third party insurance claim is against another’s insurance company. In a situation where you were somehow at fault in a collision that caused personal injury or property damage to another driver, their claim against your insurance company for damages would be a third party claim.
2. If an insurance company provides you an offer that’s ridiculously low or otherwise unfair, can you make an insurance bad faith claim?
The answer depends on the nature of the accident and the discrepancy between the offer made and what’s generally considered to be fair according to the industry standard. Also, your agreement with the insurance company will help set the parameters of fairness. In general, your company must abide by its contract or risk punitive actions in a bad faith insurance lawsuit.
3. If you settled a claim and then your insurance company committed an act of Bad Faith, when you file suit, do you sue only to recoup the money originally owed to you or can you ask for even more because of the unfairness and inconvenience?
Yes, depending on the circumstances of the bad faith insurance claim. If an insurance company acted particularly egregiously in dealing with your contract or case, you can ask for what are known as Punitive Damages. These are awards that go above and beyond the initial compensation, and they are designed specifically to punish negligent companies.
4. If the language in your insurance contract is ambiguous, how will the court likely rule?
In general, the court will rule for the plaintiff (you!). In other words, unless the contract explicitly spells out why someone in your circumstance should be denied compensation or coverage, you’ve a very good chance of collecting.
5. I’m not sure whether I have a Bad Faith insurance case and I can’t comprehend the language used in my contract. What do I do?
First of all, don’t wait around. The statutes of limitation for action in bad faith insurance cases can be brief. Your best bet is to speak with an attorney who’s familiar with Bad Faith insurance situations. Steve Heisler, an attorney, has dealt with many diverse and critical cases regarding accident safety and insurance. To get a free consultation with respect to your bad faith insurance questions, dial toll free at (877) 228-4878 or email us for help through our website.
Let Attorney Steven H. Heisler Help You Today
If you or someone you care for is the victim of an insurance company acting in bad faith, attorney Steven H. Heisler may be able to help. If he finds that the company has failed to honor the terms of the contract they wrote, he can file a bad faith insurance claim on your behalf. If you believe that your insurance company is trying to persuade you to accept a settlement below the terms of your contract, is deliberately taking its time paying a claim, or is otherwise acting in bad faith, contact Steven H. Heisler today to schedule a consultation.
$5,500,000.00 - Steve represented a 33-year-old single mother of one whose vehicle was struck head-on by a construction truck in 2002. The client suffered life threatening injuries and was in a coma for six weeks. She required two months of brain injury rehabilitation. The client currently has serious permanent disabilities as a result of the accident including short term memory loss, impaired speech, double vision, and right side paralysis.
She is unable to return to her occupation as a dental hygienist or any other occupation. Steve Heisler and his associate Keith Kauffman negotiated a $5.5 million structured settlement at mediation. Should the client reach her life expectancy the payout increases to $9.5 million.
$250,000 - Steve represented the family of a 15 year old Anne Arundel County boy who was killed when the vehicle he was a passenger in failed to negotiate a curve and struck a tree. The defendant driver was also killed. Another passenger survived the crash. The defendant driver had a $300,000.00 liability policy. Steve negotiated a $250,000.00 settlement for the family. The remaining $50,000.00 was tendered to the surviving passenger.
$800,000 - Steve represented the estate and family of a 45 year old man who was killed when the motorcycle he was riding struck a guardrail and he was catapulted down an embankment. The estate and family alleged that a vehicle in the lane to the immediate left of the man swerved into his lane and caused a collision. The defendant strongly denied any wrong doing. The case was settled at a settlement conference for $800,000.00.
$325,000 - Steve’s client, a 45 year old Sr. Program Manager, was struck by a work vehicle that failed to yield the right of way while turning left in front of the victim in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Steve’s client was thrown from his Harley Davidson and suffered multiple injuries resulting in two surgeries. Suit was filed and the case settled for $325,000.00.
$200,000 - Steve’s client, an elderly lady from West Virginia, was seriously injured when the car she was traveling in was struck by a negligent driver in Garrett County, Maryland. The lady suffered a broken back and detached retina. Steve negotiated a $100,000.00 settlement with the defendant driver’s insurance company and was successful in getting his client’s West Virginia insurance company to “stack” an additional $100,000.00 for a total settlement of $200,000.00.
$100,000 - Steve represented a five year old Eastern Shore boy who was struck by a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road while the boy was riding his bike. Steve's client suffered a traumatic brain injury and serious fractures which required him to spend an extended period of time in a rehabilitation center. The boy now has permanent brain damage. The case settled for the driver's policy limits of $100,000.00.
$95,000 - Steve represented a 36-year-old Cecil County man who was rear ended while stopped at a red light. The force of the impact was severe and his client’s vehicle was totaled. Steve’s client suffered a cerebral concussion, a C5-6 disc herniation, and a L2-3 disc protrusion. He received a 30% whole-body permanent disability rating. Steve settled the case with the insurance company for $95,000.00.