Can I sue an insurance company for acting in bad faith?

by Donata
(California)

I was injured when a drunk driver turned left directly in front of me. I crashed into him and got a whiplash injury which is now giving me neurological issues.

His insurance company would not return my calls and so I finally, after a year, wrote them asking for a settlement. I gave them a month to respond or I would be forced to hire an attorney. They failed to respond.

Can I sue for more than the policy limits based on their failure to negotiate in good faith? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Can I sue an insurance company for acting in bad faith?":

Donata (California):

There is a basis in law upon which a person, whether an accident victim or not, can sue an insurance company for bad faith. To successfully sue an insurance company for bad faith you must be able to prove the company "failed to act in a reasonably prudent and fair manner, to the detriment of a claimant" (you).

From the facts you present it appears the insurance company hasn't either returned your telephone calls or responded in any other manner to your inquiries.

If you prevail in a lawsuit against the insurance company you may be entitled not only to a settlement for your actual damages, but for an additional amount for "punitive and exemplary" damages as well. Those amounts can be just about any amount a jury decides it should be.

Contact a personal injury attorney. Most will not charge any fee for an initial consultation. Once you present all the facts to an attorney you will be in a much better position to determine whether you want to proceed.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION