Insurance Bad Faith: Preserving the Duty to Act in Good Faith and Fair Dealing
December 9, 2011
At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, our practice involves helping injured people pursue justice through our civil court system. This requires us to be experienced in handling cases that cross into several areas of the law, including insurance contract law. For instance, when representing clients injured in a motor vehicle accident, disputes can arise between the client and their automobile insurance company over the coverage provided by their automobile insurance policy. These contractual disputes are influenced by the desire of the automobile insurance company to pay as little as possible to people they insure. Though automobile insurance companies issue policies to protect you in case you unintentionally harm another, one must remember that automobile insurance companies are still for-profit businesses and thus are still acting in their own interests.The public, otherwise known as the “insured,” rarely have the luxury of a team of lawyers to represent them in disputes with their insurance companies. At Aitken * Aitken * Cohn, however, our lawyers have gained the expertise to handle these cases and achieve amazing results.
Generally, contract law provides that all contracts are subject to an implied duty that each party must act with “good faith and fair dealing.” When an insurance company does not act with “good faith and fair dealing” they are acting in bad faith, hence the term “insurance bad faith.”
If you are injured in an motor vehicle accident and it is due to the fault of another, it is the at-fault party’s automobile insurance that you will likely be seeking recovery from, at least in part, to compensate your damages. If the at-fault party’s insurance company fails to act in “good faith and fair dealing” when handling claims this could subject their insured to personal liability, you may be able to pursue an action directly against the at-fault party’s insurance company after a judgment has been taken. In addition, if your home is damaged by an accidental fire, and your claim for damages from your homeowner’s insurance company is denied or handled improperly, you may also have a cause of action against your homeowner’s insurance company.
The Neal case is controlling precedential law that must be followed by all trial courts in this State. Thanks to Wylie and his advocacy for his client, an insurer may be found liable for acting in bad faith for failing to promptly pay undisputed claims. See also Boicourt v. Amex Assurance Company (2000) 78 Cal.App. 4th 1390 (Wylie A. Aitken and Darren O. Aitken convinced the court that a formal settlement offer was not an absolute prerequisite to the injured party’s bad faith action when the injured party made a request for policy limits and the automobile insurance company refused to contact the policyholder about the request.)
Over the years, the attorneys of Aitken * Aitken * Cohn have ardently prosecuted on behalf of clients not treated fairly by insurance companies. If you or someone you know is involved in a dispute arising out of homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and/or automobile insurance, the attorneys at Aitken * Aitken * Cohn have the needed experience and proven results to handle your case.