What is insurance bad faith in California?

Getting into a car accident spoils your day. If you're injured, it can ruin a lot more than just your day, too.

When you have car insurance, you expect your insurance company to be there for you in your time of need. Unfortunately, some car insurance carriers are less than scrupulous and act in bad faith. Fortunately, California has more laws than most states to help protect people from these bad insurance practices. 

There are deadlines for responding to letters and phone calls, deadlines for issuing payments on your claim, and deadlines to deny or extend the investigation on your claim. 

In California, the insurance company has a duty to investigate, handle, and pay out your claim properly. If the insurance company fails to conduct a full investigation in "good faith" or continuously delays payment, then the insurance company might be acting in bad faith.

Car insurance bad faith comes in many shapes and sizes. Insurance carriers act in bad faith when they take specific actions or fail to take certain steps. 

While there are several instances, here are some of those most common examples of insurance bad faith in California:

1. Denying a Claim Without a Reason

When an insurance carrier denies your car accident claim, they are required by law to provide you with a reason. When they don't, they are acting in bad faith. Similarly, refusing to pay or settle a valid claim can also be viewed as bad faith. 

2. Not Conducting an Investigation

Whether you file a claim with your insurance company or the at-fault driver's insurance company, they are required to act on your information. Part of this includes conducting a thorough and accurate investigation. 

Some insurance companies simply won't act. Others will conduct a less than thorough investigation. They don't collect all of the evidence and fail to make a reasonable effort to determine how the accident happened, who is at fault, and what damages are owed.

3. Offering Less Than Your Claim is Worth

This tactic is one of the most common bad faith actions. We often see this in the form of lowball settlement offers. Many times, these lowball offers come within hours or days after your accident. If you're thinking that's not enough time to fully investigate and make an accurate determination of your injuries and how much is owed to you, you'd be right.

Some unsavory insurance companies prey on the knowledge that you were injured in a car accident and are likely out of work. They know you need fast cash. So, they offer you a lowball settlement that won't really cover your medical expenses. This tragic scenario is something we don't want to see you in. 

What Does This Mean for Your Claim?

A car accident lawyer can help determine if you potentially have a bad faith claim in addition to your claim for damages for your car accident. If there seems to be an unreasonable struggle to have your claim investigated and paid, it might be time to contact an attorney. 

You pay your premiums every month, and you expect your insurance company to pay when you file a legitimate claim.

When they refuse to pay you, you need the services of a trusted car accident lawyer in Los Angeles. We have the experience you need to help you recover the full value of your claim, even if that means we have to take the insurance company to court to help you get better.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Steinberg Injury Lawyers can handle your complex car accident case. We have helped many clients just like you, who were injured even more by the insurance company. We'll investigate your claim like the insurance company should have, and we'll demonstrate the validity of your claim for which you are owed compensation. We do all of this at no cost to you. We only get paid when you win, and we only take cases we plan on winning.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation evaluation of your case to see how we can help you move forward.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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