Arias Ozzello & Gignac LLP

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California Insurance Bad Faith Lawyers

Our lawyers can help both plaintiffs and defendants in insurance bad faith actions. Since we have so many years of experience in these cases, we are able to see disputes involving allegations of insurance bad faith from multiple perspectives. This is highly advantageous to all of our clients. 

Under California law, insurance companies owe a so-called “duty of good faith and fair dealing” to the persons they insure. This duty is often referred to as the "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing." The duty automatically exists by operation of law in every insurance contract. Because insurance cases can be emotionally charged and financially substantial, such cases should be handled by lawyers who understand their deep-complexity and high-stakes.   

You may be an insurer who is accused of engaging in bad faith or you may have a claim and believe that you, your family or your business has been mistreated by your insurance carrier. No matter your situation and no matter the side of the dispute your are on, we are prepared to answer all of your questions and represent you through any necessary administrative hearings and in the courtroom. Some common examples of “bad faith,” for which we are prepared include:

  • inadequate investigation
  • refusal to defend the insured against a lawsuit
  • refusing to make a reasonable settlement offer/ making a lowball offer
  • threats made against the insured
  • undue delay in handling claims
  • unreasonable interpretations of a policy
Such cases may require analysis of complex documentation, evaluation of extensive evidence, and interpretation of intricate factual details. These types of cases, typically, can only be handled by law firms with the resources necessary for in-depth investigations and that have the negotiating skill to press for the appropriate outcome. We have these resources and the skill to aggressively pursue what is in your best interests. Whether through settlement of verdict, we have a long history of success in complex class actions, mass torts and high-stakes insurance bad faith lawsuits.
  

Jury Verdicts for Bad Faith Conduct by Insurance Companies

If an insurance company has not lived up their responsibilities, the insured person (or "policyholder") may sue the company for bad faith. They may also have grounds for an additional lawsuit that alleges a breach of the insurance claim. 

The advantage of the bad faith claim for the insured is that the court may award punitive or exemplary damages on top of the usual compensatory damages. In other words, the plaintiff in an insurance bad faith case may be able to recover an amount that is much larger than the original face value of the policy.

In California, the plaintiff in a bad faith action may be able to recover some of its attorneys' fees separately and in addition to the judgment for damages against a defendant insurer. By reaching out to us for assistance as soon as possible and for a free consultation, we will be able to quickly assess the merits of your case and let you know if you have grounds for a lawsuit. If you do, we will be the allies you need. 

Common Bad Faith Claims

While the details can vary depending on whether or not the case involves an auto policy, home, life, medical or other type of insurance coverage, there are basically two types of bad faith claims:  

  • first-party bad faith claims
  • third-party bad faith claims

A common first-party claim is when an insurance company writes insurance on property (such as a house or an automobile) that becomes damaged. The insurance company may be liable if it: 

  • improperly investigates the claim
  • grossly understates the value
  • refuses to acknowledge the claim

Third-party bad faith can occur when the insurer wrongfully:

  • refuses to defend where it has a “duty to defend” that claim
  • refuses to indemnify a policyholder for a covered act
  • refuses to pay the judgment or settlement of a covered lawsuit
  • refuses to settle a reasonably clear claim against the policyholder within policy limits

We have litigated as defense counsel for various insurance carriers. Insurance litigation involves not only the defense of various claims against an insured, but also analysis of coverage and conflicts. We have also been on plaintiff's sides as well. Knowing the intricacies of these legal issues from both perspectives has been a contributing factor in our history of success. Contact one of our experienced attorneys today to discuss your case.    

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