How and When to Hire a Bad Faith Insurance Lawyer (and Why)

lawyers who sue insurance companies

Is it time to find the best lawyer who can sue an insurance company?

If your insurance company isn’t holding up its end of the deal — providing what you need from your claim — maybe it’s actually acting in bad faith. The only way to know for sure is to find a bad faith insurance lawyer. Here’s when to look, why they’re helpful, and how to find the best one for you.

Bad faith insurance is always a complicated situation.

The reason you’re here in the first place is because you’ve already made an insurance claim, and it’s either been denied or the settlement offer isn’t what you think you deserve.

So, now, instead of your “opponent” being the other insurance company or party in an accident or injury, you feel like you’re going to bat against your own insurance company — and that’s not an easy predicament.

As soon as you feel like your insurance company isn’t providing the services you’re paying for (which you are, every time you pay your insurance premium), it’s time to look for a bad faith insurance lawyer.

Let’s look at the when, why, and how to choose a bad faith insurance lawyer.

WHEN do you need a bad faith insurance lawyer?

A lawyer’s role is to be your advocate. Your sidekick. Your wingman or wingwoman. Most importantly, though, it’s to be the person who’s always on your side in a legal matter.

That’s not the same as the role of your insurance adjuster.

Your lawyer works for YOU. Your insurance adjuster works for the insurance company.

It’s important to keep this distinction in mind. Your insurance company makes money from the costs of the premiums policyholders pay for coverage. But the more it has to pay out in claims, the less profit is left. So, even though you’re the customer (the policyholder), the insurance company’s objective is still to pay out as little per claim as possible.

Yes, it wants you to keep doing business with the company. But it also likely has hundreds of thousands of customers just like you, and if you choose to take your business elsewhere, it would be fine.

Insurance companies have formulas they follow to calculate how much a claim is worth. If your claim is for a car accident, for instance, the insurer will look at the repair or replacement value of the vehicle, and that’s usually pretty straightforward. It might estimate your vehicle’s value based on the Kelley Blue Book, which is the industry accepted standard for car values based on its make, model, age, and overall condition.

Estimate are usually more difficult for ongoing medical treatments. There could be disputes over what your injuries actually are (despite what your doctor says), what treatments are required, and what additional services you need for recovery and for how long, or how long you might need to be out of work.

And that might be where the insurance company decides to try to cut corners.

If your injuries are severe or require you to be out of work for a period of time, it might even be hard for you to determine what your expenses will be. Medical treatment adds up quickly, especially if you’re going to need physical therapy or continued monitoring.

Enjuris tip: Insurance is regulated by state laws, not federal. There are changes to the laws and regulations based on where you live, and you’ll need a lawyer who’s familiar with the laws in your state.

So, when do you need to consult a bad faith insurance attorney?

Simply put, right now.

If your claim isn’t being resolved to your satisfaction, and if you believe the insurance company is acting in bad faith, call an attorney today. They’ll tell you whether the insurance company’s actions (or inaction) are in bad faith, and what your options are.

Don’t wait, because if you’re still undergoing medical treatment, those bills are piling up.

If your bills aren’t being paid, there’s one of two things likely happening.

Either:

  1. Your insurance company is acting in good faith, but is underestimating the full value of your claim; or
  2. Your insurance company is acting in bad faith and effectively breaching its contract with you.

If the first scenario is true and the insurance company is underestimating the value of your claim, then it’s time to get a lawyer involved. Your lawyer should be a trained negotiator who has access to experts in finance, medicine, and whatever other specialties are necessary to correctly assess what your costs are now and what they will be in the future.

If the second scenario is true, then your lawyer will either escalate your claim to a higher level to reach resolution within the insurance company, or they will advise you about whether a lawsuit is necessary.

WHY do you need a bad faith insurance attorney?

Your insurance bad faith attorney can make sure that the insurance company is following the law.

Your insurer likely has a huge team of lawyers whose sole function is to fight insurance lawsuits and justify claim denials. They have deep pockets, and your claim is just one of thousands or even millions that they want to fight. You, alone, are probably no match for your insurance company’s legal team.

Once you’ve hired a bad faith insurance lawyer, you have someone on your side who’s experienced in handling these legal shenanigans.

Your lawyer will know:

  • How the courts in your state interpret bad faith laws
  • What your likelihood of success is based on the specifics of your claim
  • How much to demand in damages

There are alternatives to a lawsuit.

For instance, your lawyer might recommend mediation or arbitration, or they might try again to negotiate with your insurance company. These alternatives save time and money, and might be effective in reaching the resolution you need.

Is my insurance company acting in bad faith?

Your insurance company is required to do the following:

  • Thoroughly investigate your claim. It must evaluate the evidence and provide its findings within a reasonable amount of time.
  • Indemnify you, as the policyholder. If you were at fault for the accident or injury, your insurance company is responsible for paying a settlement or judgment to the claimant, up to your policy limit.
  • Provide your defense. If a claim is made against you, the insurance company must defend you, even if there are parts not covered by the policy.
  • Make a reasonable settlement offer. In most states, the law says that the insurance company is required to offer a reasonable settlement. If it doesn’t, it opens the possibility that you could be the defendant in a lawsuit, which likely would involve a much higher claim.
  • Respond to your communication. They’re required to respond to your inquiries in a timely manner and provide answers to your questions about your claim’s status and other details.
  • Provide a reason for claim denials. If you’ve been denied, you’re entitled to know why so that you can appeal.

Insurance bad faith is a “tort,” but it can also be filed as a lawsuit for breach of contract, and there could even be punitive damages involved.

HOW to choose the best bad faith insurance lawyer

There are a number of ways to choose a lawyer, regardless of the type of legal matter.

Finding a lawyer by referral (word of mouth)

One approach is to get a referral from a friend, neighbor, or family member. Like any profession, there are lawyers who are excellent, good, decent, and... not so good.

Start by asking for attorney recommendations from the people close to you, whose opinions you trust. If no one knows of a lawyer who takes bad faith insurance cases, begin to branch out in your search by using websites or apps that help find professionals in your local region.

Using online resources to find a lawyer

One of the best ways to seek out qualified bad faith insurance attorneys near you is through a lawyer directory. Most online legal directories are free to use and allow you to quickly sort through lists of law firms in your geographic area. In fact, we have a free directory available right here on Enjuris.com!

The Enjuris Personal Injury Law Firm Directory offers a state-by-state list of qualified, experienced attorneys who are ready for you. They’ll work with you every step of the way to get the resolution you need in your bad faith insurance matter.

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There’s also Nextdoor, Angie’s List and other websites that are designed to connect people with local professionals in a variety of fields. They’re a helpful resource to find anyone from a landscaper to a lawyer. They’re also hyper-local, which means you can narrow a search to a specific geographic radius, so you’re likely to find an attorney close by.

resources for choosing a bad faith attorney: nextdoor.com
resources for choosing a bad faith attorney: angieslist.com

Be wary, though. Some of these sites are advertising-supported, which means that you might see what looks like public posts, but they’re actually ads that the lawyers paid for you to see. That doesn’t mean the lawyer is bad or shady — it just means that, like anything you read online, you need to do your research to make sure it’s accurate and trustworthy.

You can also use Google search to find a bad faith insurance lawyer. Google will provide pages and pages of results, so it might be hard to select just one. Try narrowing your search by using queries like lawyer and [your city] and “bad faith insurance”. It will still be a large number to sift through, but it’s a start.

Many states also have searchable databases through the state bar or court system that you can use to find a lawyer. Depending on which state you’re in, some of these are easier than others to navigate, but it’s worth checking to see if your state has one that’s accessible.

Narrow your list

You’ve done your research and made a list of potential lawyers.

But how do you narrow it down to a few who are worth interviewing?

Fortunately, the internet is your best resource for this part. Almost every lawyer has a website that includes a bio and information about the firm.

First, double-check to make sure that the lawyers you’ve selected are experienced in bad faith insurance cases. Sometimes their bios will even list notable victories, or types of cases they’ve litigated successfully. The bio should also tell you in what states they’re licensed to practice and what courts. It might provide some information about where they went to school, boards they sit on, and maybe even a little about their volunteer activities.

Although nothing replaces an in-person, face-to-face meeting, the lawyer’s website can tell you a lot about whether it’s someone you want to trust with your case.

You can also Google the lawyer’s name to see if there are any disciplinary proceedings, or if there are articles about cases they’ve been involved with. This will also give you clues about their reputation and abilities.

Begin the interview process

If you’re going to start making appointments for consultations, you probably want to have your list narrowed to 5 or fewer lawyers. Interviews are time-consuming for you and for them, and you can always make more if you don’t find anyone satisfactory.

Sometimes, even a lawyer with an excellent reputation might not be the best choice for your lawsuit. This is one of those situations when having someone who has the experience and knowledge to win a case is only one part of the equation. The other part is that your lawyer is someone you feel comfortable with, and who you trust with the most personal details of your medical and financial history.

You’re not interviewing the lawyer for the role of BFF, but you are making sure that it’s someone who listens to your concerns, relates to you in a way you can understand, and takes the time to fully absorb the details of your case and what you want to achieve.

If you feel rushed or uncomfortable, it’s probably not the start of a great working relationship. Look for a lawyer who understands and respects your priorities.

Here’s more information about how to find and choose a lawyer who’s right for you:

Your First Meeting with an Attorney
A worksheet to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury attorney – what to bring, what they'll ask
Download in PDF format

Personal Injury Attorney Interview Sheet
Worksheet with questions to ask a personal injury attorney to help determine if he or she will be a good fit for your case
Download in PDF format

 

 
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