Santa Ana and Anaheim Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
Dealing with insurance companies after a personal injury accident isn’t easy. It becomes substantially more difficult when the company deals unjustly with victims. Insurance “bad faith” refers to circumstances in which an insurance company denies coverage of a car accident or other injury claim without proper grounds for doing so. If you believe you’re the victim of insurance bad faith in Santa Ana, Irvine, or Anaheim, retain an attorney. You may be able to sue the insurer for additional damages. Bentley & More, LLP, is an Orange County law firm you can count on to fearlessly go up against major insurance companies.
Individual Disability Insurance
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 17.9% of people with disabilities in 2016 were employed. Individual disability insurance (IDI) is a coverage option that lets workers protect their incomes in the event of a disability. It is an individually owned insurance policy that replaces a percentage of the policyholder’s income, commissions, and/or bonuses if the policyholder sustains an injury or illness that prevents him/her from returning to work. With most IDI policies, it does not matter if the injury occurred in or out of work.
IDI provides monthly benefits to qualifying policyholders, so they can focus on recovery without worrying about interruptions in income. Insurance companies are infamous for treating disability and IDI claimants unfairly when it comes to fulfilling their policies. Insurers may try to make an offer that is much less than what the claimant is eligible for, or deny an IDI claim outright. If you’ve done your part, paid your premiums, and conducted yourself professionally, you expect the same level of integrity from your insurer. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.
Many insurance companies take actions in bad faith in an effort to minimize how much they must pay claimants. You might be the victim of IDI bad faith if your insurer denied your claim with a reason that doesn’t apply to your case. Your denial letter should have an explanation of why the company isn’t accepting your claim. If there is no explanation, contact our attorneys. You may be able to fight a denied claim by proving your disability, either in a settlement negotiation or jury trial. This is an area of law in which our attorneys excel.
Long-Term Disability Insurance
Long-term disability (LTD) insurance is invaluable for people with serious disabilities. LTD insurance provides benefits for medical costs, rehabilitation, and lost wages that stem from the long-term disability. Long-term disabilities can arise from traumatic injuries, repetitive stress injuries, or illnesses. Any injury that renders a worker unable to return to work, or unable to return to a previously held position, for a period of time (as specified in the insurance policy) may qualify as an LTD.
LTD insurance companies may be guilty of bad faith dealings if they handle claimants’ requests unfairly or unreasonably. This can take many shapes and forms, and differ according to the exact language of the policy. What is “unreasonable” in the eyes of the law can vary based on the details of the individual case. Examples of insurance bad faith regarding LTD benefits can include:
- Denying a claim for benefits without a valid reason
- Delaying a claim decision or benefits for an unreasonable amount of time
- Failing to conduct a thorough investigation of the claim
- Requiring unnecessary or excessive information or proof of disability
- Paying lower benefits than what the LTD policy lists
- Unreasonable conduct such as relying on misleading disability reports
- Deceptive practices to avoid paying disability benefits
- Deliberate misinterpretation of policy or disability records
- Abusive or coercive claim settlement tactics
As soon as you experience an adverse reaction from your LTD insurance company, review your policy. Make sure that the company is performing an action that goes against the language in your policy. Our attorneys can help you understand your LTD policy and legal language if necessary. Keep the letter the insurance company sent you, as well as any explanations they gave for the action. If you speak with your insurer over the phone, record the details of the conversation, such as with whom you spoke. If you believe you have a case of bad faith, go to an attorney for counsel. You may need to file a complaint against the insurer or pursue your rights in court.
About Disability Accidents and Injuries
A disability can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. If a traumatic accident such as a car crash, workplace slip and fall, or animal attack results in injuries that interfere with the victim’s ability to work, the victim is “disabled” in the eyes of the law. People who cannot return to work due to injuries can apply for disability benefits to provide income for themselves and their families until they can. Disability insurance can make all the difference to a family when the main financial provider is out of work.
There are multiple types of disability insurance coverage available. About one-third of workers have LTD benefits through their employers. Check with your employer to see if your employee benefits include LTD coverage. Federal laws regulate LTD benefits. IDI is a personal type of insurance that claimants may have to purchase on their own. Disabled individuals may also qualify for workers’ compensation disability benefits if the disability stems from an injury that occurred while the person was performing job-related tasks.
Social Security benefits may also apply to individuals with disabilities that make them completely unable to work for at least a year. The Social Security Administration reports that approximately 62 million Americans will receive benefits in 2017, totaling around $955 billion. Review your disability benefits options with your employer, a financial advisor, your insurance companies, or an attorney if you’re unsure how to pursue benefits for a recent disability accident or injury.
How to Recover from Bad Faith Insurance Companies
Insurance bad faith for personal injury and disability claims is relatively rare, but such scenarios can and do impact unfortunate disabled parties. If an insurance company unreasonably denies, reduces, or delays the benefits that your family relies upon for future well-being, protect your rights with help from our Orange County attorneys. We have experience fighting against small and large insurance companies on behalf of wronged clients. The process for recovery from bad faith insurers may involve the following:
- Review your disability benefits plan. First, find out if the insurance company’s actions are reasonable. Review your disability benefits policy and see if there is a valid reason for the company’s actions. You may have thought your policy provided a certain type of coverage, when in fact it does not. The Department of Labor offers an excellent resource for help reviewing your policy and filing a disability claim.
- Call an attorney. If your insurance company’s response appears unreasonable based on the stipulations in your policy, contact an attorney. You may need a second pair of eyes reviewing your policy to make sure. If we agree that the insurer’s decision doesn’t align with your policy, we can help you sue the insurer.
- Prove your case. A lawyer can help you provide the elements necessary to show the courts that the insurance company’s dealings were in bad faith. In California, this involves proving that the insurance company withheld benefits due under the policy, and that the reason for withholding these benefits was unreasonable or without proper cause.
California has a less-restrictive definition of insurance bad faith than most other states. This can work in favor of claimants going up against insurers in settlements or trials. Keep in mind that not all insurance adverse actions will qualify as “bad faith.” For example, clerical errors that result in delay of benefits may not satisfy the burden of proof of the company’s “unreasonableness.” A good lawyer can help you understand whether your case has merit as a bad faith claim in California, and your potential options for disability benefits moving forward.
Are You Eligible for Recovery?
With millions of people reliant on disability insurance benefits around the country, it is no surprise that many bad faith claims arise every year. Bentley & More, LLP, includes insurance bad faith as a practice area specialty because of the prominence of this issue in California. The firm is dedicated to helping people with disabilities fight back against insurance companies that try to shirk their duties and avoid giving benefits where they are due. With numerous accolades, leadership positions, and recognition in several major publications and broadcast platforms, our firm stands out from the competition in Orange County. We have what it takes to help you fight insurance bad faith.
A claim against your insurer may not only result in payment of the original benefits the company owed you, but also in additional damages for your trouble. These will vary on a case-by-case basis, but may include payment for your attorney’s fees, economic losses, emotional distress, contract damages, statutory penalties, interest fees, and punitive damages. Punitive damages will only come into play if the insurer’s actions were grossly negligent or particularly egregious in the eyes of the court.
Insurance policies are by nature highly complex documents, with lots of fine print and legal syntax that can confuse the average policyholder. Don’t try to navigate your policy or argue with a major insurer on your own. Our firm provides legal assistance to local parties with injuries or disabilities, who find themselves facing denied claims, payment delays, or other adverse actions seemingly without reason. We can help you file your complaint, understand your policy, or file a bad faith claim against your insurer if applicable. Don’t wait for your insurance company to come around or apologize. It probably will not happen. Instead, be proactive about protecting your future by retaining an attorney. Call our Orange County personal injury lawyers at (949) 870-3800 or visit our website to schedule a free initial consultation.