A Hypothetical Situation Illustrates Real Difficulties
Suppose that you have been injured in an automobile accident caused by the careless and negligent conduct of the other driver. The other driver is insured and has a bodily injury policy limit of $100,000. It is clear early on that your injuries will exceed this amount. As a result, you submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance company. Weeks go by without any communication from the insurance company while your medical bills and expenses continue to rise. If an injury victim is in this situation, it is important to understand when a delay becomes bad faith.
The Key Consideration – The Insurance Company is Allowed a Reasonable Time to Investigate and Settle Your Case
In nearly every case, “bad faith” does not exist until the insurance company has had a “reasonable time” to respond to the claim and determine whether it will tender the policy limits. What constitutes a “reasonable time” will vary based on the facts of the case. Even two claims that appear fairly similar on their face may have two very different “reasonable time” periods. The amount of time that an insurance company will be afforded to settle your case depends on the answers to several questions:
- Does the insurance company have all the relevant information it needs to evaluate the claim?
- How clear is the insurance company’s client’s liability or fault? If liability or fault is not clear, a “reasonable time” to investigate the circumstances of the crash should be given to the insurance company.
- Is it clear your injuries will exceed the policy limits of the insurance company’s insured? You may be asked to provide medical documentation or other paperwork that establishes the extent of your injuries.
- How reasonable was your deadline? Except in first-party bad faith cases brought pursuant to statute (e.g., when you are injured in a crash with an uninsured motorist and seek payment on a claim you submit to your own insurer), you are given some leeway in establishing a deadline by which the insurance company must pay your claim. If you set too short of a deadline, the insurance company may attempt to defend itself against a bad faith claim by arguing you “set up the insurance company to fail” in that you gave the company an impossible deadline with which to comply. (In the case of a first-party claim brought pursuant to Florida statue, you must first file a form with the Florida Department of Financial Services and then allow 60 days for the insurance company to respond.)
You can reach Miami Insurance Claims Lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo by dialing his direct number at (786) 272-5841, calling the main office at (305) 461-1095, or Toll Free at 1 (866) 71-CLAIM or email Attorney Gonzalez-Sirgo directly at [email protected].