Visitor Question

Do I have a potential “Bad Faith” suit?

Submitted By: Micah (Houston, Texas)

A man drove out in front of me while I was driving and is confirmed as being at-fault by the police report (the wreck occurred on 4/24/17). My car was totaled (according to my personal insurance company) and I have filed the claim with his insurance since I am not at fault. The airbag deployed and the front-end was completely destroyed; the damages were around $6,000 to repair the car, and it was therefore declared a total loss.

The man at fault drove his mid-sized SUV out in front of my Honda Civic as I was in a turning lane and he was pulling out from the gas station. His impact with me caused me to rear-end a lady’s car as well, but I have been cleared from liability for her based on the police report. I was injured and have pains, but have yet to visit a physician of any kind.

Initially, the insurance company in question seemed very compliant and eager to settle my claim quickly. Now, it has almost been a month, and they have reassigned me to a third claims adjuster within their company and she has yet to return my voicemails from a week ago. Her phone seems to reject my call after a few rings every time that I call.

I am starting to wonder if this constitutes as being in “bad faith”. The previous adjuster told me that the claim is taking longer than a typical claim because there was a third vehicle involved; however, that was two weeks ago that he said that.

I work independently, so I don’t have any missed ‘hours’ from work to claim, etc. I have been hoping to get in touch with them to secure a rental vehicle since my insurance policy’s reimbursement has run out for this month’s rental allowance, but his insurance has yet to reply to my e-mail or voicemail from a week ago.

I really would just like to get a fair settlement as soon as possible, but am curious as to whether it would be wise to hire an attorney. Thank you for any advice that you feel is pertinent to my situation.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Micah,

Insurance companies are notorious for taking advantage of not only claimants, but their own insured as well. However, there comes a point at which taking advantage becomes dealing in Bad Faith.

In the State of Texas, insurance company bad faith is addressed under Texas Revised Statutes Section 541.060 (a) , which states in part:

“It is an unfair method of competition or an unfair or deceptive act or practice in the business of insurance to engage in the following unfair settlement practices with respect to a claim by an insured or beneficiary:

Failing to attempt in good faith to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim under one portion of a policy with respect to which the insurer’s liability has become reasonably clear to influence the claimant to settle another claim under another portion of the coverage …”

In your case, a delay of one (1) month, albeit frustrating, does not appear to constitute bad faith dealing. Moreover, you have not sought a medical evaluation. As a result, the only issue seems to be property damage and a rental car issue.

Unfortunately, unless you want to pay an attorney an hourly fee, it is unlikely you will find an attorney to accept your case. Call the insurance company and ask to speak with a supervisor. Explain what the problem is. In so doing, you may hope to have your claim more properly dealt with.

Learn more here: Bad Faith Negotiating Tactics

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

Best of luck!

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