Obliged to Work in Good Faith
Very often, people who have been injured in car accidents find that collecting on their claim with an insurance company is a frustrating and challenging experience. For most people, it’s an experience they have never had before, and they’re not sure what their rights are and how to go about getting fair treatment from an insurer.
South Carolina law requires insurance companies to deal with claimants in good faith by honoring the contract they have with their insured and by paying legitimate claims. It doesn’t matter whether the claim is for damages arising from a car accident, a fire, an on-the-job injury or a botched medical procedure. If the insurance company doesn’t adhere to certain standards in claims settlement, they can be held accountable in a separate bad faith lawsuit.
What Does ‘Bad Faith’ Mean?
The law of South Carolina relating to bad faith in insurance settlement is found in South Carolina Code Annotated § 38-59-20. In some situations, the following may constitute improper claim practices:
- Knowingly providing deceptive or misleading information with respect to coverage under the policy
- Failing to be reasonably prompt in communications about claims
- Failing to promptly investigate and settle claims
- Not settling promptly and fairly when liability is clear
- Forcing claimants to file suit by offering substantially less than what is reasonable
- Discouraging a claim by threatening to rescind the policy as of its inception.
It is important for claimants to realize that not every claim denial or disappointing settlement offer is evidence of bad faith. Even though the insurance company may offer less than you think you deserve or a sum that you think is unfair, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are guilty of violating the law governing insurance claims settlement practices. They should, however, be able to explain how they have arrived at their evaluation of the worth of your claim.
Do’s and Don’ts
You should not be surprised if they ask you to give an Examination Under Oath (EUO), as most insurance policies allow them to investigate claims in that manner. This is one of the situations in which an experienced accident lawyer can provide assistance and ensure that you do not unwittingly give the insurer grounds to deny your claim.
If the insurance company does deny your claim, this is not necessarily evidence of bad faith. It depends on how and why they arrived at that decision. A South Carolina personal injury lawyer will understand the intricacies of the insurance policy covering the accident and will be able to explain the terms of it and how it relates to the company’s decision so that you will be comfortable with it. On the other hand, if the decision is not supported by evidence, he will recognize that and advise you of your options.
Would You Recognize a Reasonable Settlement Amount?
The Columbia accident insurance lawyers of the Louthian Law Firm have been securing justice for hardworking people and families of South Carolina since 1959. After an accident, people are often overwhelmed by the difficulties of recuperating, paying bills, and getting back to work. We can assist by serving as a buffer between you and the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim. Not only will this make your life easier, it may result in a more favorable settlement. Studies done by the Insurance Research Council have found that insurance payouts to claimants who have attorneys are an average of 3.5 times higher than payments made to people who negotiate the process on their own.
If you have been in an accident that was due to the negligence of another person or company, would you recognize a fair settlement offer? Because we have been down that road many times before, we can advise you whether it is reasonable or whether the insurer should be presented with a counter-offer.
You deserve reasonable compensation for your loss, and with us by your side you will get reasoned advice from seasoned professionals. Call the Louthian Law Firm at (803) 454-1200 or use our online contact form to find out how we can help you obtain a fair insurance settlement or hold accountable an insurance company that is guilty of bad faith.