Insurance Litigation Attorneys in Mobile, AL
In an increasingly complex world, an experienced insurance litigation attorney is a necessary asset. A lawyer at the Mobile, Alabama firm of Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. can provide experienced representation with insurance coverage litigation and related issues. Each lawyer at our firm brings several years of education and trial experience to their representation. Over the years, we have been successful with various types of litigation, including the areas detailed below.
Our experienced insurance litigation attorneys defend or prosecute a variety of insurance-related lawsuits, including:
- Claims of Insurance Bad Faith
- Breach of Contract
- Insurance Buyouts
- Commercial General Liability Claims
- RICO Violations
- Fiduciary Responsibilities of Agents
- Brokers, Adjusters, and Insurance Claims Personnel
- Arson and Fire Policies
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
When you purchase an insurance policy, you expect that if something bad happens, your insurance company has your back and will hold up its end of the bargain. You pay your premiums as scheduled to buy peace of mind. Hopefully, nothing happens during that policy period to cause you to call on your insurance carrier, but you know that they should be there for you if something does.
In Alabama, an insurance company owes you the duty of handling any claim, or the defense of a claim against you, in good faith. It has the duty to promptly and properly investigate your claim. This applies to all types of insurance policies – including automobile, medical, homeowners, life, and commercial. In Alabama, the insurance company only owes the duty of good faith to its own insureds (called first-party coverage).
An insurance company is guilty of bad faith failure to pay when it does so without an arguable reason. A carrier also commits bad faith when it fails to provide you a defense or fails to pay damages on your behalf on a claim made against you where there is no arguable basis for doing so. An example of this would be if you are at fault in a car accident or someone is hurt at your home because of a dangerous situation which you negligently created. Also, in such situations, your insurance carrier can be guilty of bad faith where it fails to settle the claim against you for an amount less than the policy limits of your coverage and a judge or jury awards the other party damages in excess of your policy limits.
Common Bad Faith Tactics Used by Insurance Companies
There are a wide range of tactics an insurance company might use that may constitute bad faith. These may include:
- Unreasonable/Unnecessary Delays: An insurance company may drag out the time they take to process a claim, so they can either frustrate the policyholder into giving up or just delay the process of settling the claim so they can hold on to their money longer. Some ways they may unnecessarily delay a claim include being unreasonably slow to communicate and putting undue burdens on the policyholder (such as asking for excessive documentation).
- Failure to Thoroughly Investigate a Claim: When a policyholder files a claim, the insurance company has a duty to promptly and thoroughly investigate the claim before determining whether or not it is valid. Sometimes, an insurer will deny a claim without a thorough investigation. For example, a claims adjuster may decide, based on an initial conversation with the policyholder, that the claim is not valid without ever bothering to perform an investigation.
- Pressuring you to Accept Less than your Claim is Worth: An insurance company is not supposed to avoid paying the full value of a claim out to a policyholder just to bolster their own profits. Unfortunately, this practice goes on all too often. One way they might do this is by putting pressure on the policyholder to accept a lower amount than what you are really entitled to under the terms and conditions of your policy.
- Deceptive Practices/Misrepresentation: Insurers sometimes misrepresent the language of a policy or intentionally interpret the language in a way that hurts the policyholder. Another example of a deceptive practice would be failing to tell you about a certain type of coverage that you have, so they can avoid paying you.
- Refusal to Pay a Valid Claim: Insurance companies can deny a claim if they have a valid reason to do so, but in some cases, they deny coverage without an acceptable reason. If an insurer denies coverage without providing a valid reason (that is in keeping with the terms and conditions of the policy), the policyholder may be able to challenge that decision based on the bad faith theory.
- Changing/Cancelling your Policy without Prior Notification: Sometimes, an insurance company might make a change to the coverage and a policy or even cancel coverage altogether without providing prior notification to the policyholder. In such cases, the policyholder may be under the impression that they are covered for something that they are not, and they do not find this out until they have to file the claim. It is always best to keep a copy of your original policy along with any correspondence that you receive from the insurance company. This way, you will be better able to show that you were not notified of a change in coverage, so that the terms and conditions under the original policy can be enforced.
What Will an Alabama Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer Provide?
Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., is a team of attorneys committed to zealous advocacy on behalf of our clients, and particularly in the context of a bad faith failure to pay or defend by an insurance company. We are exactly the team that you can confidently have by your side. Reach out to connect with us today and speak with one of our Mobile insurance bad faith attorneys to learn about what your rights are. We do not charge you to evaluate your case.
Damages Available for Insurance Bad Faith Claims
For claims of insurance bad faith in Alabama, plaintiffs may be able to recover monetary damages over and above the coverage benefits the insurance company withheld from the policyholder. This may include non-economic damages such as mental anguish, legal fees, and punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to “punish” the defendant for especially egregious actions; and in general, you must show that insurance company acted willfully, maliciously, or fraudulently in order to be awarded damages from within this category.
Contact our Experienced Mobile, AL Insurance Litigation Attorneys
Whether you are involved in a personal or commercial insurance dispute, our team of attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C. understands the legal process and how to help ensure that our clients are in the best possible position to obtain a favorable outcome. We make sure that your rights are protected, and that the insurance carrier upholds their end of the bargain. When they fail to do so, we are ready to fight them in court. Call us at 800-574-4332 to discuss your specific situation.