You’ve been in an accident, but both you and the negligent party involved in the accident are insured, so you shouldn’t have anything to worry about, right? Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case. In some situations, you may find that the insurance company that should be paying your claim is either dragging its feet in coming up with a settlement or trying to get you to settle for an initial lowball offer that’s far less than you should be compensated for the accident. That’s why it can be beneficial to look into getting a Pennsylvania insurance dispute lawyer who’s on your side.
Aren’t All Insurance Companies Required to Pay Claims?
Insurance companies are willing to do anything possible not to have to make a payout on an insurance claim or to pay as little as possible. Insurance companies are like any other company in that they are always thinking about their bottom line, and being overly generous with insurance claims cut into that bottom line. So, while insurance companies are required to pay valid claims, they will work hard to ensure that there are reasons as to why a particular claim shouldn’t be paid, such as claiming that you were also at fault for the auto accident. Getting a Pennsylvania insurance dispute lawyer near you can let the insurance company know that you aren’t going to be a pushover and it helps them take you more seriously.
Bad Faith and Insurance Companies – Why You Need a Pennsylvania Insurance Claims Lawyer
Insurance companies are governed by laws that require them to act in good faith in fulfilling any obligations written out in an insurance policy. Unlike other states, Pennsylvania has a specific law or statute for a private cause of action against an insurance company for bad faith. The law passed in 1990, and the law can be found at 42 Pa.C.S. § 8371. This law or statute provides a private cause of action for insurance policyholders who feel their insurers have handled their first-party claims in bad faith. If the court finds the insurer has acted as such, it can levy interest, court costs, attorneys’ fees, and punitive damages against the insurer. What the statute lacks, however, is a definition of what exactly would be considered “bad faith. However, the courts seem to find that any frivolous or unfounded refusal to pay the proceeds of a policy can be considered bad faith. Courts have defined a two-pronged test that an insured must demonstrate that the insurer: “(1) did not have a reasonable basis for denying benefits under the policy; and (2) defendant knew or recklessly disregarded its lack of reasonable basis in denying the claim.”
For instance, that means that they have to pay out claims in a timely fashion and they cannot deny a claim without a reasonable basis. By working not to accept a valid claim, denying it, or trying to pay less than expected, they can be considered to be acting in bad faith. In circumstances when the insurance company is acting in such a manner, they can not only be responsible for paying the claim amount due to the victim but also have to pay punitive damages. Most insurance companies don’t want to be found to be acting in bad faith, as this can impact their business beyond the initial financial damages, so it’s often in their best interest to handle it properly when held liable by an experienced insurance dispute attorney.
Obstacles In the Insurance Claims Process
The insurance process can seem relatively straightforward in some situations. Still, there are many cases where you hear about a large number of obstacles that the insurance company creates to try and pay out as little as possible. It can be exhausting not only to have to worry about getting back to your everyday life after a severe accident that caused injuries, medical bills piling up, and keeping you from working, but also to have to handle the insurance company that should be helping you.
Some of the obstacles that you’ll find in the insurance process include:
- The insurance company’s adjuster is trying to gather evidence that you are fully or partially responsible for the accident, so they can say that you’re not eligible for a claim.
- The adjuster is disputing the amount of your claim that should be paid out.
- The insurance company’s adjuster only approves a partial payment by approving part of your claim but refusing other portions of your claim.
- The insurance company offers you a meager amount early on in the process in the hopes that you’ll accept this early offer because your bills are starting to come in even though it’s nowhere near what you should be paid out based on your claim.
Each of these obstacles is put in your way to try to get you to accept what they are offering without any dispute. Some may not even realize that they have the right to dispute what the insurance company claims. Employing an attorney near you familiar with your area and these types of obstacles can help you overcome them and move on with your case.
Do You Need an Insurance Dispute Lawyer?
You may not realize that you need an insurance dispute lawyer to help you get your insurance claim paid, especially when personal injuries are involved. Most people aren’t aware of how hard some claims can be to get paid out. Having a lawyer on your side can be beneficial. An experienced legal team that’s been in negotiation and has litigated against insurance companies in the past understands the different plays that insurance companies use to try to escape from paying out a fair settlement amount when you have been injured. They are better able to see the tricks they use and know how to combat them to get you a payment.
When you need a Pennsylvania insurance claims lawyer after suffering an injury, you can rely on the legal team at The Pearce Law Firm, Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers. Leverage our experience dealing with insurance companies to assist you in getting your Pennsylvania insurance claim paid. But, first, contact our professional team today if you have suffered an injury to discuss your current difficulties with handling your insurance dispute. Then, our staff can help review your options depending on the specifics of your cases and how best to move forward.