To maintain their profits, insurance firms frequently have a vested interest in finding any excuse to deny or restrict your claim, even if doing so requires using unethical tactics. You might have been a target of insurance bad faith if your insurance company failed to resolve a claim in a reasonable timeframe, managed your claim unjustly, changed an application without the claimant’s awareness to get them to pay out, and made false statements about the circumstances of the claim to reduce the settlement amount.
Because insurance plans are contracts, those who have been wronged by their insurance provider may file a lawsuit for the coverage to which they are legally entitled with the assistance of an experienced insurance bad faith attorney.
An attorney can assist you in determining if your insurance provider’s actions were taken in bad faith and in developing a plan that will increase your potential for success by carefully reviewing your insurance policy and your particular case. When a well-known attorney is engaged, most insurance companies take claims far more seriously, which frequently results in payouts that are up to three times what was previously given.
As you read on, we will be helping you understand how insurance bad faith works in the state of Florida as well as the role of an insurance bad faith lawyer, how to find the right lawyer that best suits your case including a few tips on how to work with them smoothly, what to expect in the legal process, and a few frequently asked questions to better equip you as you handle your case efficiently.
Understanding Insurance Bad Faith in Florida
The “bad faith” legislation in Florida enables an insured person or a person who has been wronged by an insured person to sue an insurer for damages if the insurer failed to resolve a claim in good faith when it should or could have. From a long time ago, Florida has had both statutory and common law remedies for bad faith that are intended to shield insurance consumers against unethical acts on the part of insurers. Several analysts feel that Florida’s bad faith statute serves as a useful control on insurance providers, who often have significant negotiating power advantages over policyholders.
Moreover, a 1982 Florida statute acknowledges a claim for bad faith against an insurer whether the insured is demanding compensation from his or her insurance provider as well as when negotiating a settlement with a third party. According to the law, any party can assert a claim and the insurer’s bad faith is defined as: “Not attempting in good faith to settle claims when, under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so, had it acted fairly and honestly toward its insured with due regard for her or his interests.”
Overview of Florida’s Insurance Industry for 2021:
- There are 2,131 licensed domestic and international insurers in Florida.
- Florida leads the nation in homeowner premiums, accounting for 10.36% of the market.
- According to disclosures for the NAIC annual statement, Florida ranks 4th in terms of the total premium.
- During 2012, the amount of in-state direct premium written climbed by 85%.
- In terms of property/casualty (P/C) premium, Florida is ranked third according to NAIC annual statement filings.
What therefore qualifies as an insurer’s claim of bad faith?
Here are a few examples: Deliberate dishonest conduct, such as intentionally breaching legal or contractual duties, deceiving a third party, signing a contract without the intent or means to carry it all through, making material misrepresentations, refusing to pay undisputed losses, or violating fundamental rules of honesty in interpersonal communication.
According to Florida law, as stated above, individuals can make a bad faith claim if an insurer attempts to engage in any of these bad faith acts.
What damages may be recovered for bad faith?
Florida law provides harsh penalties for insurers that engage in bad faith. Potential damages include:
- Treble (three-times) the amount the insurance company failed to pay under the policy in bad faith.
- Consequential damages, i.e. additional damages caused as a result of the bad faith conduct. This may include additional damages caused to your property as a result of delays or even damages for mental anguish.
- Attorney’s fees.
Florida’s bad faith laws provide incentives for insurance companies to promptly pay claims and avoid treating policyholders unfairly. Even with these laws in place, many insurance companies violate the law giving policyholders the right to recover additional damages to ensure they are made whole.
What Must be Done to File a Bad Faith Claim?
The bad faith claim process is more complicated than just filing a lawsuit. First, you need to identify the specific statutes the insurance company violated. These violations are listed in Florida Statute 624.155. Before suing an insurance company for bad faith, Florida law requires the policyholder to file what is called a civil remedy notice with the Florida Department of Financial Services. The policy must file the notice and provide a copy to the insurance company then give the insurance company 60-days to cure any violations. The notice needs to provide a detailed account of the misconduct committed by the insurance company, identify the specific violations committed by the insurance company, and state what needs to be done by the insurance company to cure bad faith.
Curing bad faith normally means settling the claim in a reasonable manner.
If the insurance company fails to cure its violations within 60-days of filing the civil remedy notice, the insurance company may be sued for bad faith.
The Role of an Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
When an accident or unanticipated catastrophe occurs, insurance is designed to offer financial security. Insurance firms, unfortunately, occasionally act in bad faith. An insurance bad faith attorney can help in this situation.
An insurance bad faith attorney’s job is to represent clients who have received unjust treatment from their insurance provider. In addition to assisting consumers in navigating the complicated laws and rules governing insurance claims, they may also make insurance companies liable for their acts.
An insurance bad faith attorney will first evaluate the credibility of your claim. To ascertain if there is proof of bad faith, they will examine the terms of the policy, the specifics of the claim, and any discussion with the insurance provider.
The process of developing a case will proceed once the attorney has decided that the insurance company engaged in bad faith. To verify the assertion, this entails obtaining proof, such as health records, police reports, and witness accounts.
Moreover, a lawyer who specializes in insurance bad faith has the knowledge and experience to help clients through Florida’s intricate insurance laws and regulations. They will make sure that all required paperwork is submitted appropriately and that the policyholder’s rights are upheld at all times.
An insurance bad faith attorney’s other essential role is to represent the client in negotiations with insurance companies. They will fight to ensure that their client receives a just payment and that the insurance provider upholds its end of the bargain.
Lastly, an insurance bad faith attorney will advocate for their client in court if needed. To guarantee that their client obtains the just compensation they are entitled to, lawyers will present the facts and discuss the situation with a judge or jury.
Finding the Right Lawyer in Florida
Choosing the most suitable attorney is essential to getting the resolution you need if you have a bad faith case in Florida. It can be challenging to know where to begin with the multitude of lawyers to choose from. Follow these steps to identify a knowledgeable, skilled attorney who can effectively defend you:
- Get a lawyer who practices in insurance bad faith claims if your case affects an insurance claim. These lawsuits, which center on an insurer’s breach of duty to the policyholder, can be tricky and complicated to handle. Choose a legal representative who has experience addressing issues like these.
- The recommendations of friends and relatives might be an excellent place to start when looking for a competent attorney. To find out what other clients have to say about their interactions with certain lawyers, you may also look for legit online reviews. You should remember, however, that reviews can’t often be relied upon as they’re often subjective and biased.
- It is vital to arrange a session before choosing a lawyer to go through your case and determine whether you connect with the attorney. Ask questions about the attorney’s background, strategy for your case, and communication skills during the consultation. Determine whether you are at ease and satisfied in dealing with the attorney.
- Understanding the attorney’s fee schedule is very crucial before engaging them. While some lawyers charge a set rate, others bill by the hour. Some lawyers could also demand a retainer fee beforehand. To be sure you are receiving a fair bargain, make sure to check the rates and payment plans offered by various attorneys.
- Examine a lawyer’s track record and success rate before hiring them. Have a look at how many instances they have handled and how frequently they have succeeded in getting their clients good results. You can assess the attorney’s competence and suitability to undertake your case based on this information.
What to Expect During the Legal Process
Knowing what to anticipate during the legal procedure of a bad faith case in Florida is crucial if you think that an insurance company engaged in bad faith. The following provides a brief overview of the procedure:
Initial consultation and case assessment
Consulting with a skilled Florida bad-faith lawyer is the initial step. The lawyer will assess your case at the initial appointment to ascertain if you have a strong case against your insurance provider. The losses sustained as a result of the insurance company’s activities will also be evaluated by the attorney.
Investigation and evidence gathering
The next stage is to do research and gather evidence if the lawyer deems you have a case. Analyzing your insurance policy, compiling evidence of your losses, and acquiring any pertinent correspondence between you and the insurance provider are all covered by this. To support your case, the lawyer could also have witnesses take depositions and engage experts as witnesses.
Negotiations and potential settlement offers
When the lawyer has obtained enough proof, they will enter negotiations with the insurance provider. The objective is to avoid trial by coming to a settlement that reimburses you for your damages. Legal action could then be taken if the insurance provider won’t make a reasonable settlement offer.
Filing a lawsuit and navigating the court system
If negotiations break down, the lawyer will sue the insurance provider. The judicial process in Florida will continue with discovery, motions, and perhaps a trial. The lawyer will stand up for your rights and defend you throughout this procedure.
Receiving a judgment or settlement
Finally, once the trial proceeds, the judge or jury will ultimately decide if the insurance provider engaged in bad faith in your case and importantly, the settlement amount for the damages. The lawyer can write up a settlement agreement that makes up for your losses if the lawsuit is resolved before said trial.
Tips for Working with Your Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
When you’ve never dealt with legal issues before, working with an insurance attorney that deals with cases of bad faith can be stressful and daunting. But if you adhere to a few realistic guidelines, you can ensure that everything runs as easily as possible and that you are paid what you are due. The following are crucial pointers for collaborating with your insurance bad faith attorney:
- Maintaining open and honest interaction with your attorney is one of the most important components of dealing with them. This includes being detailed about every aspect of your case, even if you’re unsure of its applicability. To establish the strongest case and negotiate a just agreement, your attorney has to have a thorough grasp of your situation. If your lawyer asks you a question or requests information, make certain that you respond promptly.
- In addition to being truthful and upfront, you must also offer your attorney any relevant paperwork and facts regarding your case. This covers items like your insurance plans, medical records, and any contact you’ve had with your insurance provider. You’ll assist your attorney present a compelling argument in your favor if you provide them access to all of the essential data.
- Maintaining your involvement and knowledge throughout the legal process is crucial if you want to fully comprehend what is occurring and be able to make sensible judgments. This entails showing up to all meetings and hearings, reading all dialogue from your attorney, and getting clarification whenever necessary. You primarily should stay active and aware, while your attorney should keep you updated on any changes in your case.
- Lastly, it’s critical to have faith in your lawyer’s knowledge and counsel. Your attorney is qualified and experienced to deal with insurance providers and operate through the legal system. Even if you do express your thoughts or opinions, it’s important to pay attention to your lawyer’s counsel and implement their instructions. You will have the highest likelihood of succeeding if you collaborate as a team.
Hire a Bad-Faith Insurance Lawyer To Fight For Your Rights
In essence, those who have been treated unfairly by their insurance company must hire a knowledgeable insurance bad-faith attorney in Florida. By pursuing a bad faith claim with competent legal counsel, one may be able to hold the insurance company responsible for their acts and receive the entire amount of compensation due. In the end, everyone engaged wins from encouraging a just and responsible insurance industry in Florida.
You may be confident that your financial future is in capable hands when you choose a skilled bad-faith attorney to represent your case. Contact us at (866) 932-1652 right now to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation, or use our contact form.