When a person is injured in a car accident in California, he or she may be contacted by one or more insurance companies to settle the claim. Generally, the expectation is that insurance companies will negotiate fairly with injured parties. In reality, insurers have been known to engage in all kinds of bad faith tactics in order to secure better deals for their companies.
Most of the legal jurisdictions nationwide recognize an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which is meant to foster honesty and fairness in this sort of negotiation. Because of the implied covenant, people who are injured in car accidents might have a separate claim for bad faith negotiation in addition to their injury claims. These claims arise when dishonest adjusters use bad faith practices in negotiating claims. Common tactics include denying a claim for no apparent reason, refusing to settle for similar amounts as other claims or spinning the facts of the case to make the claim less valuable.
The options available to an injured party who is being met with bad faith negotiation tactics depend on the point where the case is in the claims process. There are first-party bad faith claims and third-party bad faith claims. The former claims are filed by the insured against his or her own insurance company. The latter are filed by a person against someone else’s insurance company.
Bad faith lawsuits are often not subject to the same limits as normal insurance policies and can cost the insurer a lot more money than they are willing to part with. Insurance companies are usually ready for some penance if their adjuster has engaged in bad faith insurance negotiation. A California lawyer with experience handling personal injury and bad faith claims might be able to help by examining the facts of the case, gathering evidence and negotiating with the insurer on behalf of the client. Many cases are settled out of court with monetary awards.