Virginia bad faith insurance lawyers
Car insurance companies tell us that "you’re in good hands" with them, that they are "good neighbors," and "on your side." These marketing slogans are comforting if you’ve been in a car wreck and find yourself overwhelmed with medical bills because you can’t work. But are these reassuring phrases always true?
Sadly, no. The truth is that insurance companies are businesses, and a business’s goal is to make money. The average premium an American will pay for auto insurance is rising, jumping more than 6% in a recent year. You probably spend $1,000 every year just to get the minimum liability coverage in Virginia – adding MedPay and uninsured motorist can set you back even more. Overall, we all gave the insurance industry $285 billion in a recent year in the United States.
But after a traumatic crash, when it comes time to cover the thing you paid them for, some insurance companies say, “No.” Even when that means breaking contracts with faithful clients who need help.
After a Gloucester County car accident, if your insurance company isn’t dealing with you fairly, call us, GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, at (804) 413-6777. There is no charge to speak with us, and we’ll give you legal advice for your specific situation. If you need us, Virginia car accident lawyers, to represent you in your claim, it will cost you no upfront fees or out-of-pocket expenses. We only get paid if we win you an award. When accidents happen, we’re here for you.
An insurance policy is a contract between you, the insured, and the insurance company, the insurer. The legally binding agreement is that if you pay your premiums to the insurance company, it will pay for specified losses you suffer in the future.
For example, you agree to pay your car insurance company $500 a year in premiums. In return, if you are in a car accident, it promises to pay you enough to fix or replace your car, and also to pay up to $20,000 of your medical bills. Or, if you cause an accident that injures someone else, your insurance company promises to pay the other driver up to $30,000 for his losses (repairs, medical bills, etc.). However, these agreements are sometimes broken by the insurer, which is where the concept of “bad faith” comes in.
If your insurance company denies your claim without a legitimate reason, deliberately offers you a payout that’s less than you deserve, delays paying you on purpose, or does not adequately investigate your claim, that it is acting in bad faith.
For example, if you have been in a serious accident, you will have bills to pay. There is $500 of damage to your car. You also suffer injuries that leave you with $10,000 in medical bills. Under your insurance policy, both the damage to your car and your injuries should be covered. In a good faith situation, your insurance company would uphold that policy. However, if your insurance company denies your claim for $10,500, it has violated its contract with you, meaning that it has acted in bad faith.
An insurance company can act, or fail to act, in several ways that qualify as bad faith, such as:
- Refusing to pay a valid claim
- Failing to pay a valid claim in a timely manner
- Requiring excessive paperwork to process a claim
- Failing to deny a claim in a timely manner
- Failing to explain why a claim was denied
- Failing to settle a claim in a timely manner
- Failing to adequately investigate a claim
- Failing to defend a client against a claim (this includes failing to hire an attorney on the client’s behalf)
If your insurance company isn’t honoring the contract you have with it, you may have grounds for a bad-faith insurance claim. When an insurance company refuses to comply with the contract you have with it, the company is breaking the law, which is all the more reason to demand proper compensation. Even better, if you win a bad-faith claim, the insurance company will also owe you extra money for its dishonest behavior.
Just as there are many ways that your insurance provider can act in bad faith, there are also multiple kinds of bad faith.
First-party bad faith is when your own insurance provider is acting in bad faith and denying you proper coverage. For example, suppose you were driving and lost control of your car, swerved off the road, and hit a tree. Your car was totaled, and your arm was broken. Your injuries resulted in $10,000 in medical bills, and the Blue Book value of your car was $16,000. Both amounts are well within your coverage limits, and you’ve met your deductibles. But your insurance company says your car was only worth $10,000, and it will pay only $6,000 for your medical bills.
Third-party bad faith involves your liability coverage. When you are "at fault" in an accident or injury, your insurance company must defend you in a civil claim, and pay all your defense costs – even when the lawsuit is not covered by your policy. Your insurance company must also pay for any judgments against you up to your policy’s limits. There are some exceptions to this, so check with us if you’re unsure.
An insurance provider is ultimately a business. Even if they say they care about their customers and provide compassionate support, their main goal is to make money. So as long as they don’t pay out, they are getting to keep more of the money their clients pay them with each insurance premium.
Once a client needs money for an injury or a damaged car, an insurance company’s profits are reduced. To keep as much money as possible, many insurance companies will try to deny your claim, or offer you a settlement that is far less than you deserve.
In fact, many insurance companies are so determined to make as much money as possible, they will train their employees to trick clients, and even offer incentives to motivate adjusters to offer as little as possible. Former insurance industry employees have described how they were rewarded for cutting costs and increasing profits, regardless of customers’ policy limits.
This is not to say that all insurance companies and all claims adjusters don’t offer fair payouts. Some are better than others. The bottom line is (and Virginia requires) that your insurance company must operate in "good faith" and honor its contract. It cannot deny, diminish, or delay a claim without good reason.
So, if you’ve had a claim denied, you don’t agree with the payout you’ve been offered, or you’re having trouble getting a payout from your insurance company at all, we can help you.
At GibsonSingleton Injury Attorneys, we don’t hate insurance companies. We know many of the adjusters in our area quite well. Instead of picking fights with them, we gather evidence about our clients’ medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage to build a case. Then, armed with our knowledge of the law and the insurance industry, we work in a smart way to get what our clients need to recover and be made whole.
Of course, sometimes insurance companies don’t want to play fairly.
Insurance companies are typically huge corporations with deep pockets. They employ armies of lawyers to protect their interests. To have a successful bad faith claim against an insurer, you’ll need your own team of lawyers to fight for the compensation you deserve. Thankfully, our attorneys can offer you just that. In fact, one of our partners, John Singleton, used to work for insurance companies. So he knows all of their tricks, as well as their responsibilities.
At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we have a no-fee guarantee. We only get paid by taking a percent of the settlement we secure on your behalf. If we don’t succeed, you pay nothing. Call us at our Eastern Virginia office, (804) 413-6777, for your free, no-obligation consultation.
- How a personal injury attorney can help with your own insurance company after an accident
- Do car insurance companies care about me?
It costs you nothing for our firm to represent you. We only get paid when you do. Learn more
Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.
- Safety Education
GibsonSingleton launches “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
- Annual Coat Drive
During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
- Hands-on Service
John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
- Supporting Local Schools
The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.