Most insurance claims are paid without issue. But if the insurance company denies your claim, you typically must file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party. For example, if you are hurt in a car accident, you usually submit a claim with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier.
If your claim isn't paid, you will sue the driver personally for damages. In this scenario, the insurance company must legally represent the other driver. But you would not name the insurance carrier as a defendant in your civil complaint.
But sometimes, you can sue the insurance carrier directly. It is rare, but if your personal injury lawyer can prove that the insurance company operated in bad faith, you may have a claim for damages.
What To Do if Your Insurance Companies Acted in Bad Faith
Most insurance companies are honest and reputable. Unfortunately, insurers sometimes don't live up to their obligations. Suing your insurance company regarding insurance coverage can be complicated. It can also be time-consuming.
You should talk to a legal professional before battling with your insurance company. Some law practices have extensive experience handling this type of case. Even if you already have a personal injury attorney handling the underlying litigation, you should still seek legal advice from an attorney experienced in bad faith claims.
When you first meet with an attorney to discuss your legal matters, you'll have questions for the lawyer. They'll also have plenty of questions for you.
What To Look for in a Qualified Insurance Lawyer
If you need to pursue legal action against an insurance carrier, you'll want to retain an attorney who handles this type of case. Every law firm has its own practice areas. You can usually review this information on the firm's website.
Some things you should consider when searching for a local insurance lawyer include the following:
- How far are the law firm's offices from your home or business?
- What have other client experiences been like?
- What legal information does the firm provide on its website?
- Has the firm been sued for malpractice in the past?
- Does the firm answer clients' phone calls and emails?
- Are the lawyers at the firm members of the State Bar?
Once you've identified the attorney you want to handle your case, you will call and schedule your free case evaluation. Don't be surprised if your first meeting is with one of the law firm's paralegals. It's common for paralegals to meet with potential clients during the intake process. If you and the firm decide it's a good match, you will meet with the attorney handling your case.
What Happens During Your Free Case Evaluation?
When meeting with a prospective client, an attorney wants to determine whether they have a viable case. It's not enough that you want to sue your insurance carrier (or any other insurance company).
The attorney will treat you like any new client during your free consultation. They will likely have an intake process they follow before onboarding any new client. They will need certain information before providing you with their legal services. This is the case whether you have a referral or obtained the attorney's information through Findlaw.com's insurance lawyer directory.
What Information Will the Attorney Need from You?
The law firm you retain will need your contact information. They will also need other information about your case. Below is the information you'll provide to your attorney when you decide to retain their legal services.
Your attorney's first set of questions will be related to your personal life. Some of the data they will request include:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Address, including county
- Length of time at that address
- Previous address(es) (for the last 10 years)
- Your work telephone number
- Your home phone number
- Facsimile number
- E-mail address
- Other litigation you've been involved in
- Other litigation you're involved in currently
Information About Your Insurer
Your attorney will need detailed information about your insurance company. Some of the information they need includes:
- Insurance company name
- When you bought the policy
- The agent who sold you the policy
- Your address, including county
- Policy number
- Previous insurance policies' policy numbers (for the last 10 years)
- Your contact person at the insurer
- Whether you've made claims under this policy before
- Whether you've made claims from this insurer before
Information About the Incident: Why Is This Going to Court?
Your new lawyer will also need information about the incident that led to your lawsuit. Some of the questions they will have include the following:
- What was the incident that gave rise to the loss? Describe.
- How much are the damages you have suffered?
- Do you have any correspondence or other written documents related to any contact you've had with your insurer?
- Are you aware of any claims or defenses your insurer may have against you? If so, please explain.
- Is there anything you haven't told your insurer?
- Has your insurer offered to settle with you? For how much?
You Don't Have To Solve This on Your Own: Get a Lawyer's Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.