Our Lawyers Fight Bad Faith Claims
You purchased additional insurance coverage in the off-chance an uninsured or underinsured motorist hit you. It happened, and you got hurt. Now your medical bills are piling up because your insurance company isn’t following through on payouts you need to pay your bills. If this is your situation, you may have a case for a bad faith claim.
Roughly 13 percent of Colorado drivers have no insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute. While some people don’t have any car insurance, others have low liability limits. These individuals are considered underinsured. As a result, if they’re at fault in a crash, their insurance may not cover all of your losses.
That’s where your uninsured and underinsured motorists insurance coverage should kick in. The problem is, some insurance companies unreasonably delay or deny uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) claims.
Robinson & Henry’s personal injury lawyers fight insurance companies to recover clients’ rightful benefits. You could receive three times what you’re owed plus other financial recourse.
Robinson & Henry, P.C. | Schedule your free consultation online or call (303) 688-0944.
Colorado’s Bad Faith Claims Safeguards
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance fills the gap when there’s little to no insurance money to recoup from the at-fault party. Colorado law does not require UM/UIM coverage, but your insurance company must offer it. If you don’t want it you must decline in writing.
Sometimes when you purchase the extra coverage, insurance companies will use a number of ways to try to reduce their payment to you or deny the claim altogether. Before we get into legal protections and recourse, let’s go over some common ways insurance companies stall or unreasonably deny your claim.
Unreasonable Delays and Denials
Require Extra Approvals
The insurance company may you to authorize medical records that you’ve already provided it. The insurance company makes this request because it doesn’t trust you’ve handed over all the pertinent medical records.
Open-Ended Records Release
They may want you to sign a blanket release for all of your medical records. The insurance company does not need medical records that do not pertain to your injury sustained in the car crash.
Force a Choice
You may be told you must choose between using your insurance and the at-fault party’s. This is a misrepresentation. You use both insurance policies. Your insurance pays you now so you can get reimbursed more quickly, and the other party’s insurance pays later.
Low Ball You
The insurance company may offer you $7,500 plus medical bills for your emergency room visit and months of treatment.
Not Fully Investigating
The insurance company may deny your claim after disregarding your doctor’s findings.
DID YOU KNOW? The insurance industry standard to review a claim is 30 days.
Bad Faith Legislation
In 2017, state legislators updated two Colorado statutes, originally created in 2008, to give UM/UIM policyholders more legal recourse when a claim is unreasonably delayed or denied.
Colorado Revised Statute § 10-3-1115 states “A person engaged in the business of insurance shall not unreasonably delay or deny payment of a claim for benefits owed to or on behalf of any first-party claimant.”
Who is a first-party claimant?
The statute defines first-party claimants as individuals, associations, corporations, partnerships, or other legal entities owed benefits under their own insurance policy.
You are not considered a first-party claimant if you file a claim on someone else’s insurance.
What does unreasonable mean?
The statute outlines unreasonable as an insurance company that “delay(s) or denie(s) authorizing payment of a covered benefit without a reasonable basis for that action.”
In other words, your insurance company must explain why it approached your claim the way it did, and it has to provide a good reason for the decision.
Colorado Revised Statute § 10-3-1116 lays out the financial relief you can receive under a statutory bad faith claim.
If you win your case, the judge will award:
- Two times the covered benefit
- Attorney fees
- Court costs
The double award deters the insurance company from dragging its feet on your claim; however, it occurs all the time.
Case Law – Double Award in Question Confirmed
While C.R.S. § 10-3-1116 states policyholders should receive twice their covered benefit, insurance companies and some courts interpreted the law differently. In one case, a Colorado District Court doubled the benefits owed in an unreasonable delay claim, but then the court reduced the award by the amount the policyholder was eventually paid.
This case went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court.
The state’s high court held that unreasonable delay and denial claims are not required to be reduced by the amount that is unreasonably delayed but eventually paid out. In fact, the court said the awards must not be reduced.
“the plain text of the statute provides no basis for such a reduction.”
– Chief Justice Nancy E. Rice
Types of Bad Faith Claims
Bad Faith Tort Claims
Often times, lawyers file a bad faith tort claim with a statutory bad faith claim. You can receive non-economic damages from a tort claim. That’s money for your emotional distress the insurance company caused you with their unreasonable denial or delay.
A bad faith tort claim is recognized under Colorado common law, but it’s not codified in the state’s revised statutes. There’s another important distinction between a bad faith tort and a statutory claim. Bad faith torts have a higher burden of proof.
Tort bad faith claim – The plaintiff must prove the insurer’s conduct was unreasonable and that the insurer knowingly or recklessly disregarded the validity of your claim.
Statutory bad faith claim – The plaintiff must prove the insurer unreasonably delayed or denied your payment. The plaintiff does not have to prove knowledge or intent.
Breach of Contract Claims
Another option when dealing with unreasonable UM/UIM insurance delays or denials is to file a breach of contract claim. This legal action is neither a statutory nor a tort claim. It’s a contract issue.
In addition to your insurance company abiding by statutory law, they must also follow common law. If your insurance company fails to meet the responsibilities and duties outlined in the contract, they’ve breached it.
Four elements must be present in a breach of contract claim:
- Proof a contract exists (written or oral)
- Proof plaintiff performed contractual duties
- Plaintiff illustrates how defendant breached contract
- Plaintiff shows how breach damaged them
You’re entitled to recover actual damages in a breach of contract claim. The award replaces the money lost due to the breach.
Court Upholds Breach of Contract Claim
In 2018, the Colorado Supreme Court reaffirmed a policyholder’s right to file a breach of contract claim in addition to an unreasonable delay claim.
“our general rule against double recovery for a single harm does not prohibit a litigant from recovering under claims for both a violation of section 10-3-1116(1) and breach of contract.”
Common Car Crash Injuries
Whiplash, as it’s commonly called, occurs when the neck is suddenly jolted in a back-and-forth motion. This powerful jerk affects the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck which can result in mild to severe symptoms.
Symptoms can include, a painful, stiff neck, headaches, shoulder and arm pain, and dizziness.
While some individuals improve in a few weeks, other may develop chronic pain and other complications.
Arthritic joints in the neck can develop years following a car crash. You should consider these future issues when you settle with an insurance company.
Treatment includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, cortisone injections, nerve blocks, epidural steroid injection, and surgery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, from a car crash can be minor to severe. A concussion is a mild TBI, though concussions can also range in severity.
Symptoms of concussion can include, loss of consciousness, headache, pressure in the head, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, confusion, concentration problems, ringing in the ears, and amnesia.
Treatment for concussion may include rest, restricted physical activities, limited workload, and reduced visual and sensory stimuli.
While most individuals improve in a few months, some people can develop post-concussion syndrome in which symptoms can last for a year or more.
A hurt shoulder may be the last injury on your mind when you think about car crashes, but shoulder injuries are quite common. The shoulder is complex, and the injuries it can suffer can be severe.
Tears, impingements, and fractures are the most common injuries to the soft tissues, joint, and bones of the shoulder.
Symptoms can include, pain when lifting, limited range or loss of arm motion, and swelling.
Treatment ranges from physical therapy and immobilization to surgery.
Robinson & Henry Personal Injury Lawyers
An insurance company does what it can not to pay a claim, but it wants to avoid a courtroom fight when its feet are held to the fire. Nevertheless, our personal injury attorneys prepare to go to court from day one.
Robinson & Henry’s lead personal injury attorney Dale Casares’ professional background provides a unique advantage for her clients. Dale is a former insurance claims adjuster who managed injury operations for a large insurance carrier.
Dale knows the ploys insurance companies use to try to delay or deny a legitimate claim. Therefore, she harnesses that knowledge and experience to create winning strategies for her bad faith claim clients.
Robinson & Henry Win – One of our clients incurred thousands of dollars in medical bills following a car crash. Their insurance company made an unreasonably low offer to settle her claim. With Dale’s exceptional knowledge of the insurance industry and the laws surrounding it, the client received a $250,000 settlement, exponentially higher than the original offer.
We Apply the Latest Scan Technology
Advancements in medical technology mean we can help more clients. New functional brain scan imaging has helped Robinson & Henry win hundreds of thousands of dollars in UIM bad faith claims.
This new brain imaging technology goes beyond what the typical MRI an CT scan reveals. When a traditional scan shows a normal brain, the new state-of-the-art technology can show deep brain injuries.
Consequently, this objective evidence has helped us increase settlements for our clients.
Robinson & Henry Win – Due to a car crash, a client suffered a concussion and post-concussion syndrome symptoms. However, the insurance company alleged the client was faking the injury. We were able to show the client indeed suffered a brain injury following a functional brain scan imaging session. In fact, the trauma was so severe the client was awarded disability retirement. Our client received nearly $400,000.
YOU CAN NEVER RE-OPEN YOUR CLAIM ONCE YOU HAVE SETTLED WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY.
Let Us Fight Bad Faith Insurers for You
Above all, you just want to feel safe again and focus on getting well after a car crash. The cost to do so, however, can be expensive and emotionally taxing.
Depending your injuries, you can accumulate thousands of dollars in medical bills. From scans to make the initial diagnosis to on-going treatment, the invoices for payment can seem endless.
You purchased uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance for times like these. Your insurance company should hold up its end of the bargain. If it doesn’t, Robinson & Henry’s personal injury attorneys are here to help you ensure your claim gets paid.
Schedule your free consultation online or call (303) 688-0944 to meet with one of our compassionate and assertive personal injury attorneys.
*Past results do not guarantee future performance.