Lakeland Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
Many insurers use great care in investigating claims and make sure to respond to the questions and concerns of their policyholders as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, not all insurers are so conscientious and even engage in deceptive or unfair practices in order to avoid paying out claims. This type of conduct is unlawful, so if you believe that your insurer is currently operating in bad faith, it is important to speak with an experienced Lakeland bad faith insurance lawyer who can help you hold your insurer accountable.
Under state law, insurers have a duty to exercise good faith in examining and evaluating claims made by policyholders and are prohibited from:
- Acting unfairly and dishonestly towards policyholders;
- Failing to include a statement setting forth coverage details with claim payments; and
- Failing to promptly settle claims.
Insurers who fail to abide by these rules can be held liable by wronged policyholders for engaging in bad faith insurance practices.
First Party vs. Third Party Claims
Insurance claims are divided into two main categories: first party and third party claims. First party bad faith claims occur when a policyholder files suit against his or her own insurer, claiming that it has failed to fulfill the aforementioned duties. First party claims almost always involve allegations that an insurance provider:
- Improperly denied coverage;
- Underpaid a loss; or
- Delayed payment without justification.
Third party bad faith claims, on the other hand, arise when an insurance provider fails to settle a third party’s claim against the insured within policy limits, thereby exposing the policyholder to liability that exceeds his or her coverage.
Under state law, successful plaintiffs who file first party bad faith suits could be entitled to reasonably foreseeable damages resulting from an insurer’s bad faith practices. In some cases, these damages could include funds beyond a policy’s limits. Examples of commonly awarded damages include attorney’s fees and costs, as well as interest and additional damages resulting from the insurer’s actions. In addition to these consequential damages, Florida law also allows courts to award plaintiffs with punitive damages. However, this is only possible in cases where the plaintiff can prove that the insurer’s acts occurred with such frequency as to indicate that such actions were a typical business practice and that the acts in question were:
- Willful, wanton, and malicious;
- In reckless disregard of a policyholder’s rights; or
- In reckless disregard for the rights of a life insurance beneficiary.
Punitive damages are limited to three times the amount of the compensatory damages award issued to a plaintiff or $500,000, whichever is greater. Punitive damages, which as their name suggests, are intended to punish defendants for particularly egregious conduct, so they aren’t awarded in every case. Please contact our legal team for help determining what types of damages you could qualify for if your bad faith insurance claim is successful.
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If your claim was recently unfairly denied by your insurer, you have yet to hear back about your claim, or received less than your contract stipulates for a valid claim, you could have standing to file a bad faith insurance claim. To speak with an experienced Lakeland bad faith insurance lawyer about your options, please contact Pawlowski // Mastrilli Law Group today.