March 24, 2023 | Bad Faith Insurance
You paid your insurance premiums on time and in full. Now you need your insurance company to do their part and pay your insurance claim. However, the company refuses to acknowledge your claim or negotiate a fair insurance settlement.
Many people give up and take the amount the insurance company offers to settle the claim. Unfortunately, they do not realize they might have other legal options. Insurance companies who refuse to abide by the terms of the insurance contract and Oklahoma insurance laws can be sued for damages.
If you want to sue an insurance company for bad faith, the first step is to consult an experienced Oklahoma City bad faith insurance lawyer. An attorney can help you file a lawsuit to hold the insurance company liable for the damages it caused by failing to act in good faith.
What Are Bad Faith Insurance Practices?
When you purchase an insurance policy, there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. In other words, the insurance company has a legal duty of care to investigate and process claims according to the terms of the insurance contract. It applies to all types of insurance policies, including but not limited to:
- Automobile insurance
- Liability insurance
- Homeowners Insurance
- Health insurance
- Disability insurance
- Property insurance
- Commercial property insurance
- Life insurance
- Underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage
All insurance companies try to protect their best interests by denying and undervaluing claims. Companies want to pay the least amount possible in order to protect their profits. Unfortunately, some companies go too far trying to avoid paying claims.
Examples of Bad Faith Insurance Practices
Refusing to pay an insurance claim does not mean the company acted in bad faith. If it has a valid reason for disputing the claim, it is up to you to prove your case.
However, some insurance companies utilize unfair, dishonest, or fraudulent practices. Those practices could give you a reason to sue an insurance company for bad faith in Oklahoma City.
Examples of conduct that could result in a bad faith claim include:
- Refusing to acknowledge, process, or investigate a filed claim
- Denying an insurance claim without providing a written, valid reason for the denial
- Refusing to pay a valid insurance claim
- Intentionally undervaluing a claim
- Requiring unnecessary documents and information to create a burden on the claimant
- Intentionally delaying the payment of a claim once the parties agree to a settlement offer
- Misrepresenting state insurance laws or the insurance policy terms
- Changing or canceling an insurance policy to avoid paying a filed claim
- Setting deadlines not required by law or specified in the insurance contract
- Threatening or coercing a person to accept an unreasonable settlement offer
- Issuing a partial payment and including language that releases all future claims
- Telling a claimant not to hire an attorney or seek legal advice
- Intentionally failing to tell the insured about policy benefits
This list is not inclusive or exhaustive. There are many ways an insurance company could act in bad faith. If you are unsure whether an insurance company is acting in bad faith, the best way to find out is to talk with our Oklahoma City bad faith insurance attorneys.
What Do I Need To Prove if I Sue an Insurance Company for Bad Faith in Oklahoma City?
When you file a civil lawsuit, you are the plaintiff. The party you sue is the defendant. The plaintiff has the burden of proving their allegations by presenting evidence for the jury to consider.
The burden of proof in a civil case is by a preponderance of the evidence. That means the jurors must believe there is more than a 50% chance that the claim is true. In other words, it is more likely that the insurance company acted in bad faith than not.
The legal elements of a bad faith claim include:
- The insurance policy covered the loss you claim;
- The insurance company was required to take reasonable steps to resolve the claim;
- The insurance company did not have a justifiable reason for refusing to investigate or pay the insurance claim;
- The insurance company did not use fair business practices or act in good faith and fair dealing when processing the claim; and,
- The insurance company’s breach of duty caused you to sustain damages.
Proving your claim can be complicated. Insurance companies disguise bad faith practices to avoid lawsuits. An experienced insurance lawyer in Oklahoma City understands the law and what evidence is needed to prove the insurance company acted in bad faith.
What Compensation Can I Recover if I Sue an Insurance Company for Bad Faith in Oklahoma City?
The courts can award compensatory and punitive damages for a bad faith claim. Examples of compensatory damages in a bad faith lawsuit include:
- The full value of your original insurance claim, subject to the policy limits
- Economic damages you incurred because of the bad faith practices, including attorneys’ fees, court costs, lost wages, interest, travel expenses, and more
- Non-economic damages, including emotional distress and loss of reputation
The court might also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are capped at $100,000 or the amount of the actual damages awarded by the jury.
However, the cap increases if you prove the insurance company acted “intentionally and with malice” to breach its duty to act in good faith and deal fairly with you. As a result, you could receive the greater of $500,000, twice the actual damages, or the increased financial benefit to the insurance company.
What Is the Deadline To Sue an Insurance Company for Bad Faith in Oklahoma City?
Bad faith insurance claims fall within contract law. Therefore, the statute of limitations for filing a breach of contract claim in Oklahoma is five years. However, exceptions to the rule could apply in your case.
It is always best to seek legal counsel as soon as possible regarding a bad faith insurance claim. If an insurance company is dragging its feet or making unnecessary demands, it is time to talk with a lawyer about your legal options.
Contact the Oklahoma City Personal Injury Lawyers at McGuire Law Firm Today for Free Consultation
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