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Insurance Lawsuit: Initial Info To Gather

Insurance is a necessary part of life, whether it's to protect your home or to cover any auto accidents you may have. Depending on the size of your policies, you may spend thousands of dollars a year on insurance. This is why it's frustrating when the insurance company denies your claim.

Typically, insurance carriers pay insurance claims. This is especially true when the claim is small or straightforward. There are times, however, when the insurance adjuster denies a claim. Usually, they do this for a valid reason. Perhaps the person who crashed into your car didn't pay their insurance premiums. Or you may not have submitted the proper paperwork.

Other times, the insurance carrier wrongfully denies your claim. If you believe this is the case, you can hire a personal injury lawyer to file an appeal. If the insurer denies your appeal, it's time to file an insurance lawsuit.

Here, we'll explain how to file suit against an insurance company. We'll also explain what your personal injury law firm must prove to win your case.

How Do You Know It's Time To Sue the Insurance Company?

In most states, you cannot sue the insurance company after a car accident or other event. If the insurance company refuses to pay your claim, you must sue the other party directly. The law requires the insurance company to represent the insured. You can only sue the insurance company if you can prove bad faith.

Bad faith claims are challenging to prove. It's not hard for the insurance carrier to demonstrate a valid reason for denying your claim. Rarely will you sue for bad faith with a small claim. It isn't worth suing over a few hundred (or a few thousand) dollars. Plus, the insurance carrier would rather pay a small claim than spend money on legal fees.

Before you file your lawsuit, research your legal options. You want to hire an attorney who handles this type of case. Many lawyers handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis.

What Damages Can You Demand in Your Lawsuit?

If you sue the insurance company for bad faith, you must list your damages in the initial complaint. The type and amount of compensation you receive depends on the facts of your case.

At a minimum, your attorney will demand the following types of damages:

  • Money due from the underlying personal injury claim, such as medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering
  • Attorney's fees
  • Money your own insurance carrier paid in the interim
  • Damages for emotional distress
  • Any money the insurance would have paid had they acted in good faith
  • Money you spent on a public insurance adjuster for a homeowner's insurance claim

Your total payout will probably be less than your entire demand. Your attorney will try to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. Very few of these cases go to trial.

Documents To Show Your Personal Injury Attorney

Most personal injury lawsuits involve insurance claims. This is the case with car accidents, slip-and-fall cases, and wrongful death lawsuits. Generally, the insurance company should cover your medical bills and other expenses when you suffer injuries in any accident. However, both parties should anticipate litigation.

In many cases, the injured party only knows the extent of their losses long after the accident or incident. This is why you must keep impeccable records of what happened. Your attorney will need this documentation if they need to prepare for trial. They'll even need these records to negotiate a settlement offer.

Below is a list of the documents and records you'll need to give to your attorney:

  • The insurance policy
  • All other insurance policies you have (remember to check your credit card information)
  • All your correspondences with your insurer
  • All notes of telephone conversations with your insurer
  • Phone logs and message pads if they refer to your insurer
  • Documentation relating to the covered incident at issue
  • Any estimates or adjuster's reports that show your damages
  • Canceled checks that show your damages
  • Bills or invoices that show your damages
  • Receipts that show your damages
  • Files from litigation resulting from the covered event
  • Correspondence threatening or warning of litigation resulting from the covered event
  • Files from previous attorneys

Intake Questionnaire

Although most insurance companies are honest and reputable, sometimes, they don't live up to their obligations. Litigation involving insurance coverage is complex. It can also be time-consuming.

The first thing you must do is find an attorney. You may already have an attorney who's handled other matters for you. However, you want someone who has experience handling insurance litigation. You wouldn't want a divorce lawyer handling your car accident lawsuit. Why would you want someone unfamiliar with insurance law handling your insurance lawsuit?

When you first meet with your lawyer for your case evaluation, it'll feel like you're interviewing the attorney like a potential employee.

Your attorney needs your input and cooperation to represent you adequately. They'll need the following information before they agree to represent you.

Personal Information

Your insurance lawyer will need information about you before they offer legal representation. That's the only way they can fully prepare your claim. It's also important that your lawyer has a good client relationship. This way, you trust them, and they can trust you.

The information the law firm will need includes:

  • Name
  • Address, including county
  • Length of time at that address (in years)
  • Previous address(es) (for last 10 years)
  • Your work telephone numbers
  • Your home telephone numbers
  • Fax number
  • E-mail address(es)
  • Prior litigation
  • Current litigation

Information About the Insurance Company

In addition to personal information, your attorney will need information about the insurer. Bring a copy of your policy (or the policy at issue) to your initial meeting. The policy contains most of the information your lawyer needs.

  • Name
  • Date you purchased the policy
  • Agent who sold you the policy
  • Insurance carrier's address, including county
  • Policy number(s)
  • Previous insurance policies (for the last 10 years)
  • Previous policy numbers
  • Contact person at the insurer?
  • Have you made claims under this policy before?
  • Have you made claims from this insurer before?

Information About the Accident or Incident: Why Are You Suing the Insurance Carrier?

Your lawyer needs to know what happened to determine if you have a valid case. In your own words, you'll describe the incident or accident. You'll also want to give your lawyer a copy of the police report and other investigative records.

The information your personal injury lawyer needs includes the following:

  • Describe the incident that gave rise to the loss
  • How much are the damages you have suffered?
  • Do you have any correspondence or other written documents that relate to any contacts you have had with your insurer?
  • Are you aware of any claims or defenses your insurer may have against you? If so, please explain them.
  • Is there anything you haven't told your insurer?
  • Has your insurer offered a settlement? For how much?

Most personal injury law firms offer new clients a free consultation. This is when you'll discuss your case and determine how best to proceed. Providing as much of this information to your attorney before you meet is a good idea. This allows them to review the records and prepare any questions.

Don't Wait Too Long to Meet With a Personal Injury Attorney

No law requires you to hire an attorney to handle your insurance lawsuit. However, if you want the best chance of recovering damages, you'll at least meet with a lawyer. They'll provide the legal advice you'll need to pursue your case.

Consult Findlaw.com's insurance attorney directory to find legal representation near you. The directory will give you a phone number to contact the law firm and schedule your initial appointment. You can also seek a referral from friends and family if you choose.

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