What is bad faith when dealing with personal injury and car accident cases?
DUTIES OF INSURANCE COMPANIES
Insurance companies have a duty to deal with their injury claims, in a good-faith manner. In other words, insurance companies have a general duty to look at and investigate each and every personal injury claim in a good faith and reasonable fashion. An insurance company cannot simply deny your injury claim and say “oh, there was no damage to your car, so there was no damage to your body”. That would be not dealing with your claim in good faith.
Each and every state has different case law and different statutory law on “bad faith”. For example, many states like Colorado allow you to pursue a bad faith case against your own insurance company if your insurance company handles your claim negligently or denies your claim for no valid reason. You can file a lawsuit against your own insurance company under these circumstances and receive damages in a court of law that double your recovery. These type of cases are becoming more popular with attorneys as insurance companies are simply overloaded and overworked and frequently are denying and mishandling claims in the hopes that you do not have an attorney and if you do have an attorney, they are not familiar with this very specialized area of law (bad faith law). http://cle.cobar.org/tableofcontents/ZCLIBFO9B.pdf
EXAMPLES OF BAD FAITH AND CAR ACCIDENTS
Another example occurs when one is injured in a car accident and your own insurance company fails to honor your medical payments coverage. Frequently, one has $5,000 in medical payments coverage under one’s auto insurance. So, when one gets injured in an auto accident and receives medical treatment, your insurance company is obligated to pay up to $5,000 in reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Oftentimes, insurance companies will try to deny these bills, saying they are not “reasonable” or are excessive. If your chiropractor’s bill, for example, is $90 for one visit, your insurance company may not approve this amount and may reduce it to say $70. This can be grounds for a bad faith action against your own insurance company. You pay your auto insurance premiums every month and your very own insurance company fails to pay your medical bills by stating that they are too high or not reasonable. We all pay for car insurance and we all expect to be protected when we seek medical care. This is frequently not the case as the large insurance companies are only interested in one thing: saving money! They are not interested in your injuries or your medical treatment but how best they can save money and make a profit. This is the typical dilemma between insurance companies and those they insure: you and me. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/insurance-coverage/practice/2018/colorado-bad-faith-rulings.
EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
If you have this kind of dispute with your insurance company and they fail to pay your medical bills or fail to uphold their end of the policy contract, then you do need to seek the services of an experienced insurance/personal injury attorney; someone who is familiar with “bad faith” cases. I have personally handled many of these types of cases and would be more than happy to discuss these issues with you.