Many insurance providers have a standard company policy when making decisions regarding payment of claims because they have responsibilities under the law to evaluate claims and issue decisions on a timely basis. However, all insurance companies typically use this stipulation in a manner that always benefits the company, and in particular the company’s bottom line. And their tactics are not always within the limits of the law. This happens regularly when a claimant attempts to handle a claim themselves, which is something many claims adjusters will encourage by telling them the company has no obligation beyond an initial offer to settle. Additionally, they will often delay a claim payment purposely or request excessive documentation before beginning payment of policy benefits as a form of forcing the claimant into accepting a low-ball offer that is well below a commensurate amount. Claims adjusters are not beyond using financial straits to induce acceptance of a low settlement offer. They can be ruthless when it comes to paying claims, and many times this behavior constitutes bad faith.
Insurance companies typically investigate a personal injury claim looking for evidence that relieves them of the responsibility to pay the claimant. Once they find the technicality they want, the company claims adjuster will then issue a denial based on that evidence and stop the investigation. Any claimant who wants to contest their denial must then take the case to court for a ruling. This also requires retaining an attorney in most situations to represent the personal injury claim. This practice is actually done in hopes the claimant will go away and not pursue any damages at all, but it can result in a separate bad faith lawsuit in certain situations when additional evidence is uncovered and presented in court.
Unreasonable Settlement Offers
Even when an insurance company knows that they will be required to pay policy benefits to a claimant, they can still look for any counter-claim to reduce liability responsibilities. One tactic is itemizing each element of a claim and reducing coverage amounts per item. Insurance companies can actually expose clients to additional personal liability when total damages exceed the amount of liability coverage they carry and the insurance provider refuses to pay the maximum. This problem is most often experienced when general damages for pain and suffering are being assessed in a personal injury claim, and this is assuredly an issue when a quick low settlement offer is made in a “take it or leave it” statement.
Avoiding a Bad Faith Claim Case
Bad faith claims can essentially stem from any situation where an insurance company is using deceptive negotiating tactics, and the best method of keeping insurance companies honest is consulting with an attorney as soon as possible when filing a claim of any type. It is not necessary to tell the insurance company that you have consulted with an attorney, and many times they act without questioning if no legal counsel is involved in the beginning. Insurance claims adjusters in North Carolina already understand that they have a real advantage in court due to the onerous contributory negligence law, and they use it to deny claims on a regular basis. And, they have no problem taking advantage of a claimant who does not have legal counsel. When the respondent insurance company receives communication from an attorney, they know to respond in an appropriate manner or they could face a bad faith claim.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm
Anyone in North Carolina who has been denied a personal injury claim or has been given an unreasonably low settlement offer should contact our offices immediately. Almost all bad faith cases stem from a bad case investigation that has either been cut short when they find evidence they can use to deny a claim or when an unreasonable final offer has been submitted to a claimant. Time is of the essence when this has occurred. An attorney from our firm can conduct a full investigation into your personal injury claim and force the insurance company to submit company information to the court that can be used as a basis for a separate bad faith lawsuit. Not only could you be properly compensated for personal injuries, but the insurance company could be required to pay punitive damages when the case is proven in court by a bad faith insurance attorney from our personal injury law firm.