Bad Faith Insurance Claims
Insurance Companies often have all the leverage. You are dealing with your injuries, not able to work, and trying to pay medical bills while the insurance company is holding all the money. The insurance company knows this and takes advantage of this.Chapter 176D
Knowing that insurance companies and injured individuals are often not on equal footing, the Massachusetts legislature enacted a law that is meant to require insurance companies to act fairly when settling personal injury cases. For example:
- Insurance companies can’t lie about the facts of the case;
- Insurance companies must act quickly and cannot delay things to gain an advantage;
- Insurance companies must take all evidence into account and cannot cherry pick facts that are bad for the injured person;
- If it’s clear to an insurance company that a Plaintiff is entitled to compensation, they must quickly make a reasonable offer;
- Insurance companies can’t make low offers to force you to go to court;
- Insurance companies can’t appeal decisions just to get leverage;
- Insurance companies have to explain their decisions;
These requirements are all things that an honest company would do. Unfortunately, we often see insurance companies break these rules time and time again.What if an Insurer Acts Unfairly?
If an insurance company breaks the law and acts unfairly, the first step is to send a letter explaining how they’ve broken the law. This is commonly known as a 93A letter, which references Chapter 93A of the Massachusetts statutes.
The insurance company will then have 30 days to respond and make a reasonable offer of settlement. Sometimes these letters are successful. This is often the case when an adjuster made a mistake. Then, when another person at the insurance company realizes what happened, he/she fixes the problem. Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Most of the time, the insurance company simply denies that it did anything wrong.Suing the Insurance Company
The next step is to sue the insurance company directly. However, there are some things to consider first.
First, you need to keep in mind that you won’t be able to get the information you need to prove your case for some time. An insurance company takes notes and maintains a claim file for every pending case. You’ll most likely need access to that information to pursue your claim.
You’ll also want to ask questions to the people who are involved in the case. But, while your case is pending, bringing this information out in the open would prejudice the insurance company and also the person you are suing. Therefore, these cases are usually put on hold until the underlying case ends.
Second, you need to consider how the case played out. If you sued the insurance company because it made a low offer, and then a jury awarded you that same number, it’s difficult to prove that the insurance company acted unfairly.What do I Get if I win?
If you win this case, you can get triple damages. This means that if you got a jury verdict, your damages would be 2 or 3 times the verdict, depending on how unfairly the insurance company acted. If there was no verdict, your damages are much more modest.
Regardless of the damages, the insurance company will be responsible to pay your attorney’s fees and costs in addition to what it pays you. Therefore, many lawyers will pursue these claims regardless of how much you will eventually get.
Since these cases are complicated, you need an experienced lawyer who knows how to get around the insurance company’s smoke and mirrors. At Marcotte Law Firm, we have decades of experience not only with getting the compensation you deserve, but also with leveraging the insurance company’s bad faith to get you compensation quicker.
If you’re dealing with an insurance company that isn’t playing fair, contact the Personal Injury lawyers at Marcotte Law Firm for a free consultation.