People purchase insurance policies to receive financial support if a covered incident occurs. When you purchase an insurance policy or file a claim with an insurer, you rightfully expect to be treated fairly and to have your claim evaluated in good faith. When an insurer wrongfully denies a valid claim, you can be left with significant financial and personal losses. If this has happened to you, a Phoenix bad faith insurance lawyer can help.
At Silkman Law Firm Injury & Accident Lawyer, we understand the anxiety and frustration that comes from being denied the compensation you need when you have suffered injuries or other losses. We dedicate ourselves to protecting our clients’ rights against big insurance companies. If you believe that you have had an insurance claim wrongfully denied or denied in bad faith, please contact our law firm today. We can review your case in a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Is a Bad Faith Claim?
A bad faith claim arises when an insurance company denies a claim for unfair or dishonest reasons. Under Arizona law, all insurance policies are subject to an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That means that insurance companies are required to consider claims made under policies fairly and honestly.
When an insurance company denies a claim in bad faith because the company simply wants to avoid paying out on the claim, the insured may have the right to seek compensation.
Do You Have a Bad Faith Lawsuit?
You may have a viable bad faith claim if you can show that the insurance company acted unreasonably in denying a claim for benefits that you submitted, and the insurance company knew or should have realized that it was engaging in unreasonable conduct when denying your claim. The law will impose liability on an insurance company for a bad faith denial of a claim when other reasonable insurers under identical or similar circumstances would not have denied the claim.
You may be entitled to pursue a bad faith insurance denial claim regardless of whether you had filed a first-party insurance claim, meaning a claim filed with your own insurance company, or a third-party insurance claim, or a claim made against someone else’s insurance coverage.
Examples of Bad Faith Insurance Practices
Some common examples of insurer practices that can give rise to a bad faith claim include:
- Falsifying information
- Destroying or altering documents to conceal the process by which a claim was denied
- Delaying a claim, including failing to timely accept or deny a claim within the time limits set in the policy or by state law
- Refusing to investigate or act on a claim
- Misrepresenting the provisions of an insurance policy
- Imposing requirements on a claim not contained in the policy
- Failing to provide an explanation for the denial of a claim
- Denying a claim without first conducting an adequate investigation that uncovers evidence that makes the compensability of a claim reasonably debatable
- Settlement tricks, such as offering an unreasonably low settlement offer or offering settlement amounts designed to get you to accept less than full compensation just to avoid the time and expense of litigation or trial
What Can You Pursue in a Bad Faith Settlement?
If you were subject to a bad faith denial of your insurance claim, you might be entitled to recover compensation for expenses and losses that you have suffered, including for:
- The insurance benefits for which you had initially filed your insurance claim
- Other financial losses that you incurred because of the bad faith denial of your insurance claim
- Emotional distress that resulted from the denial of your insurance claim, including anxiety, stress, or embarrassment
- Attorneys’ fees incurred to pursue your bad faith denial claim
Finally, you may also be entitled to recover punitive damages in a bad faith denial claim. Punitive damages are awarded in rare cases and are intended to punish the insurance company for its behavior and to dissuade other companies from engaging in similar behavior.
How to File a Bad Faith Claim
- The first step to pursuing a bad faith claim involves documenting everything related to your denied insurance claim. Keep copies of any documents that you had submitted to the insurance company or that otherwise supported your underlying insurance claim, such as medical records, bills, or photos. Also retain copies of all your dealings with the insurance company, including a copy of your insurance claim itself, emails or other written correspondence, and notes of phone conversations you had with insurance company representatives.
- Speak with a Phoenix bad faith insurance lawyer about your case. Your attorney can further investigate your bad faith claim to recover additional evidence that may support your right to compensation. Your attorney can also manage all communication with the insurance company.
- Work with your attorney to account for your losses. Your attorney will prepare a formal claim and present it to the insurance company. Your lawyer will work to negotiate a settlement for fair compensation for the losses that you incurred due to the bad faith denial of your underlying insurance claim.
- If a fair settlement cannot be reached, your lawyer will file a lawsuit to continue pursuing your claim. Civil litigation begins with the pleading stage, where the parties file papers setting forth the claims and defenses in the case. After that, your attorney will handle the discovery process, where evidence is exchanged between the parties to try to narrow down the issues for trial.
- If your claim is not settled during the pre-trial process, your case will eventually reach trial, where your attorney will argue your case to the court. The court will then issue a verdict on your bad faith claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Bad Faith Claim in Arizona?
Under the Arizona statute of limitations, you typically have only two years from the date that your insurance claim was subjected to a bad faith denial to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. If you wait too long to take action, the court will likely dismiss your case.
Talk to a Phoenix Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer Now
If you’ve been denied the insurance coverage you believe you are entitled to because of bad faith actions by an insurer, contact Silkman Law Firm Injury & Accident Lawyer today for a free, confidential consultation. Our experienced Phoenix bad faith lawyer will discuss your situation and explain how we can help.