Even when individuals suffer serious injuries in car accidents, insurance companies may wrongfully deny claims and refuse to compensate accident victims with the monetary recovery they deserve. Insurance companies can take this approach for various reasons, but in many cases, they simply want to avoid a large monetary payout and keep as much of their money in-house as possible. Sometimes, an insurance company adjuster will reverse a claim denial if the accident victim or their lawyer supplies additional documentation. However, at other times, the accident victim’s attorney may need to threaten the insurance company with a bad faith claim or lawsuit.
A knowledgeable Tulsa bad faith insurance lawyer can determine your eligibility for filing a bad-faith insurance claim or lawsuit and can handle every step of the process, from filing the claim to potentially litigating it in the state court system. Your attorney will aggressively fight for your legal rights and interests in pursuit of the full financial recovery you deserve.
Common Causes and Types of Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents usually result from some type of driver error. One common cause is distracted driving, where the at-fault driver turns their attention away from the road, typically by using their cellular phone, adjusting vehicle controls, or engaging in other activities. Speeding is another significant contributor, significantly reducing a driver’s reaction time and increasing the severity of collisions.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also poses a grave danger, affecting a driver’s judgment and coordination. Reckless driving, including aggressive behaviors like tailgating, road rage, and improper lane changes, escalates the risk of accidents.
Failing to obey traffic signals and signs may result in intersection accidents, while inadequate road infrastructure or poor road maintenance can contribute to multi-vehicle collisions. Vehicle defects, including brake failures or tire blowouts, are mechanical factors that may lead to serious accidents.
Collisions happen in different ways. For example, rear-end collisions occur when the front of one vehicle strikes the back of another, often due to sudden stops, tailgating, or excessive speeding. Side-impact or T-bone collisions, on the other hand, involve the front of one vehicle striking the side of another – commonly at busy traffic intersections. Head-on collisions, where the fronts of two vehicles collide, often result in severe injuries due to the high speeds and impact forces involved.
Finally, single-vehicle accidents occur when one vehicle hits a stationary object – usually because the driver is intoxicated or fails to watch the road attentively. In these accidents, an injured passenger may file a claim with the driver’s insurance company.
If you suffered injuries in one of these types of auto accidents that a negligent driver caused, an experienced car accident attorney can take the appropriate legal steps on your behalf and file an insurance claim. If the insurer denies the claim, your attorney may appeal the claim denial or file a bad faith claim against the insurance company.
How do Car Accident Victims Sustain Injuries?
Victims of car crashes often suffer a range of injuries, varying in severity based on the circumstances of their accident, the collision force, and safety measures in place. One prevalent injury is whiplash, typically resulting from the sudden jerking motion of the accident victim’s head and neck during a forceful collision. This injury may lead to neck strain and soft tissue damage, causing ongoing pain, stiffness, and headaches.
Head injuries are a serious concern, with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) occurring when the accident victim’s head collides with the vehicle’s interior or external objects. Concussions, contusions, and more severe brain damage can result, affecting cognitive functioning and long-term memory.
Chest injuries are also common, particularly in front and side-impact collisions. The force of the impact may lead to rib fractures, lung injuries, or internal organ damage. Abdominal injuries can also occur, affecting organs such as the liver, kidneys, or spleen.
Extremity injuries, including fractures, dislocations, and sprains, are frequent in car crashes. The crash may cause the accident victim’s limbs to collide with the vehicle’s interior – or with external objects – leading to bone fractures or other severe trauma. Additionally, lacerations, abrasions, and burns can result from broken glass, deployed airbags, or contact with hot surfaces outside or inside the vehicle.
Psychological trauma is another dimension of car crash injuries, often manifesting as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression. The emotional toll of a traumatic event can severely affect the accident victim’s mental well-being long after their physical injuries have healed.
Recognizing that the severity and type of car accident injuries can vary widely is essential, and immediate medical attention is crucial for proper diagnosis and treatment. Prompt intervention can mitigate long-term consequences, and rehabilitation may be necessary to address lingering physical or psychological effects. In fact, seeking prompt medical treatment after a car crash significantly increases your chances of full medical recovery and achieving favorable monetary compensation. If that does not happen, your car accident lawyer can litigate your case in the court system or file a bad-faith insurance claim.
Recovering Monetary Compensation in Bad Faith Insurance Claims or Lawsuits
In a bad faith insurance claim arising from a car crash, victims may be entitled to damages for various losses resulting from the insurer’s wrongful denial or handling of the claim. The specific types and amounts of recoverable damages can vary, but several common categories include:
- Economic Damages – These damages include monetary compensation for quantifiable financial losses resulting from the insurer’s bad faith actions. Medical expenses, property damage, and lost income are common economic damages. If the insurance company’s conduct exacerbated the financial impact of the car crash, these damages may be recoverable as part of a bad-faith insurance claim.
- Non-economic Damages – These damages are less tangible losses resulting from an insurance company’s bad faith actions, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of life enjoyment. While harder to quantify, these damages aim to compensate the accident victim for the intangible hardships they suffered due to the insurer’s wrongful conduct.
Punitive damages may sometimes be recoverable to punish the insurance company for its egregious conduct. Punitive damages are intended to deter similar behavior in the future and only apply in cases of willful, wanton, or malicious conduct by the insurer.
Legal Costs and Fees
Victims who prevail in a bad faith insurance claim may be entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees and litigation costs incurred during the legal proceedings. These damages ensure policyholders are not deterred from pursuing legitimate claims against insurers.
Some jurisdictions allow for the recovery of statutory penalties in bad faith cases. These penalties are additional monetary amounts a court imposes on the insurer for specific violations of insurance regulations or statutes.
Victims may be entitled to recover interest on delayed or wrongfully denied benefits. The interest compensates for the time value of the money owed and the additional financial burden the policyholder experienced due to the insurer’s bad faith actions.
It’s important to note that the availability and calculation of these damages can vary based on state laws, the nature of the insurance company’s bad faith conduct, and the specific case circumstances. Consulting with an experienced car accident attorney is crucial to understanding your jurisdiction’s applicable laws and maximizing your potential monetary recovery in a bad-faith insurance claim or lawsuit.
Litigating a Bad Faith Insurance Claim in Court
Litigating a bad faith insurance claim after a car accident involves navigating a complex legal process. This process involves seeking monetary compensation for damages resulting from an insurer’s wrongful denial or handling of a claim. Some of the key steps and considerations involved in litigating a bad-faith insurance claim include:
- Legal Consultation – You should seek the advice of an experienced attorney as quickly as possible after your car accident. A legal professional can assess the merits of your case, review relevant documentation, and provide guidance on the viability of a bad-faith claim.
- Gathering Evidence – Your lawyer can build a strong case by collecting evidence supporting your bad faith claim. This evidence may include correspondence with the insurance company, claim documentation, records of communication, and any evidence demonstrating the insurer’s unreasonable denial or delay.
- Filing a Lawsuit – If negotiations with the insurance company prove unsuccessful, the next step is filing a lawsuit. A complaint will outline the details of the bad faith claim, the damages sought, and the legal basis for your allegations.
- Discovery – Both parties engage in the discovery process, exchanging information relevant to the case. This exchange may involve requests for documents, written interrogatories, and depositions. The insurer’s internal communications and decision-making process may be scrutinized during this phase.
- Retaining Expert Witnesses – Depending upon the complexities of your case, your attorney may call on expert witnesses to testify. These witnesses may include professionals in the insurance industry who can provide insights into standard practices and determine whether the insurer’s actions deviated from these norms.
- Mediation or Settlement Negotiations – Courts often encourage mediation or settlement negotiations to resolve disputes before trial. Engaging in good-faith negotiations may lead to a resolution that avoids the time and expenses associated with a trial.
- Trial – If the parties do not settle, the case usually proceeds to trial. Both sides present their arguments during the trial, witnesses testify, and the judge or jury decides the outcome. A successful bad faith claim may result in an award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, legal fees, and other remedies.
- Appeals – Either party may appeal the court’s decision. The appeals process involves a review by a higher court, focusing on legal errors that may have affected the case outcome.
Litigating a bad faith insurance claim is complex, and having knowledgeable legal representation is crucial. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process, advocate for your legal rights, and work to secure the compensation you deserve in the aftermath of your car accident.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you recently suffered injuries in a car accident and the insurance company is denying your claim or otherwise being difficult, an experienced car accident attorney in your area can assist. A skilled lawyer can first investigate your accident circumstances and determine your eligibility to file a bad-faith claim against the insurance company.
If you are eligible to go forward, your lawyer can file the appropriate claim on your behalf and, if necessary, pursue litigation in the court system. Your Tulsa personal injury attorney will do everything possible to maximize your total compensation award, enabling you to obtain the justice and financial compensation you deserve.