Some auto insurance companies implement fair practices and offer sufficient compensation after a car accident. Unfortunately, other carriers use bad faith insurance tactics to delay claims and confuse customers about their eligibility for compensation. This leaves some drivers without compensation after an accident. Don't let this happen to you. Consult a knowledgeable Kansas City car accident attorney about your options.
How to Recognize Bad Faith Insurance Tactics
Recognizing bad faith insurance tactics isn’t always easy, but you need to understand what you might be up against when filing a personal injury claim after a devastating accident. Medical expenses, car repairs, and other bills add up fast, and the process is overwhelming, especially as you’re trying to recover from your injuries. Bad faith insurance tactics like the following can prevent you from receiving the car accident compensation needed to cover these expenses, so here’s what to watch out for in your case.
Don’t Sign Just Yet
Be wary of any contracts or forms the auto insurance agent asks you to sign, and avoid doing so until you consult with your attorney. A common tactic is to have you sign away your option to file a lawsuit or to receive compensation from the insurance company. This could mean no restitution at all for your accident-related expenses.
Auto insurance companies also use confusing words and phrases to deceive customers into agreeing to unfair deals. In some cases, this may involve bad faith practices that deny you the compensation you need. This can also lead to accepting an unfair deal, settlement, or policy.
Watch Out for the Quick Offer
The first settlement offered by an insurer is usually not for the true value of your rightful compensation. So don’t accept the first one. Calculate all the financial losses you suffered from the car accident, then consult with a lawyer to determine your eligibility for additional compensation. These other economic and non-economic damages might include factors such as lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.
A lawyer will look over the wording and negotiate with the insurance agent to maximize your chances of a fair deal. This means maximizing the compensation you could be eligible for based on all the damages you suffered, not just a select few.
Running Out the Statute of Limitations
Some insurance companies delay claims until the statute of limitations is up for your personal injury claim. Once this happens, you may not have access to legal action for compensation.
The Immediate Denial
Another bad faith insurance tactic is to outright deny a car accident claim for insufficient reasons. Signs of bad faith practices like this include:
- Refusing to take additional evidence
- Denying claims for unknown reasons
- Denying claims for insufficient reasons
- Not communicating about your claim
Legal Options for Bad Faith Insurance
You don’t have to put up with bad faith insurance practices. In fact, depending on what happened, you could be eligible to receive compensation for even more damages if the evidence supports the carrier is trying to deny your claim on these tactics. These damages may include the original car accident damages you suffered and punitive damages. Punitive damages are usually only offered in situations of severe misconduct, as they’re a court option to punish a negligent party.
When there are pictures, videos, and legal papers that support the damages you suffered in the accident, you could be eligible for compensation. If you submitted all the requested evidence and your claim is still denied, then this might be a sign of bad faith. At this point, you have legal options such as:
- Hiring a lawyer to negotiate a settlement
- Small claims court
Knowing when to hire a lawyer can be helpful. A personal injury lawyer can help you detect bad faith insurance tactics, take action against them, and increase your chances of substantial compensation. Not only can an experienced lawyer help you when the insurance agent refuses to pay your claim, but a lawyer can help you solve:
- Disputed car accident claims
- Delayed car accident claims
- Requesting additional compensation for severe injuries
Some insurance companies will refuse negotiations, arbitration, and mediation, and your only recourse is to take your case to court. Many people try to avoid going to trial due to the length and tedious nature of this process, but it might be the only way to obtain the compensation and justice you deserve. Make sure to choose a car accident attorney who has successful trial experience and can defend your rights in court if necessary.