Having a car accident is stressful enough without having to worry about whether your insurance company is acting in bad faith. Whether or not your insurance company is acting in bad faith is a factor you should consider in deciding not only whether you need to hire a lawyer, but who the best lawyer to help you with your car accident case would be.
Like many states, Alabama law applies an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing to contracts. In short, this means that Alabama law requires insurance companies to be fair and act in good faith when fulfilling their contractual obligations towards their policyholders.
Since Alabama recognizes the personal injury tort of insurance bad faith, insurance companies that operate in bad faith open themselves up to possible civil lawsuits filed against them by their policyholders. Naturally, what follows next are two commonly asked questions, what is good faith and what does bad faith mean? Let’s take a moment to discuss both, starting with good faith.
Generally, good faith describes honest dealing. There isn’t a one-size fits all definition of good faith, but in the context of a car accident, it means that your insurance company is working with you in a fair and honest manner to reach a reasonable settlement. An insurance company that is acting in good faith after your car accident should do the following:
It’s important to know that good faith does not mean you get everything you want or think you deserve. Keep in mind that the goal of an insurance company is to pay out the least amount of money possible on a claim. That’s not necessarily bad faith. Insurance companies may take any action that is within the boundaries of the law. That includes offering you the lowest possible settlement amount if they have a reasonable and legitimate basis for the offer.
So, what about bad faith? Bad faith is engaging in untrustworthy behavior and using unfair dishonest practices in a legal contractual matter. Before concluding that your insurance company is acting in bad faith, you may want to read or re-read your car insurance policy to make sure you know what your insurance policy covers and also to double-check that you have upheld your part of the bargain.
While bad faith acts don’t all fall into a cookie cutter mold, there are a few bad faith signs you can watch out for when trying to resolve your car accident claim with your insurance company.
If you’ve come across any of these bad faith red flags, you probably should contact a lawyer, sooner rather than later, to see what your options are. This is another opportunity to take advantage of the free or nominal fee consultations offered by many lawyers. If you think your insurance company is acting in bad faith and you have questions you would like answered, feel free to give me a call at 833-528-7846 or you can click the link below.