Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to Common Questions About Bad Faith Insurance
We all depend on our insurers to act in good faith when we file claims against our policies. When these companies fail to do so, you could be facing a case of “bad faith.”
South Dakota, like most states, recognizes the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing” in matters between insurers and their policyholders. When insurers break this implied covenant through dishonesty or unfair treatment, it can be considered to be “breached.” This is similar to a breach of contract with potential legal consequences.
Set up your free initial consultation with a Rapid City attorney for unfair insurance claim cases at Zephier & LaFleur by contacting us at (605) 349-1993.
Read some of the Frequently Asked Questions regarding bad faith claims.
Can I sue my insurer for bad faith conduct?Yes. You will have to prove to the court that your insurer withheld a benefit owed you under the terms of your policy and that their doing so lacked proper cause. This generally requires “clear and convincing” evidence that showed bad faith conduct.
What South Dakota laws apply to bad faith insurance cases?
South Dakota has a law on its books regarding unfair or deceptive practices in dealing with the insured. This law sets forth the standards to which insurance carriers are held when dealing with their policyholders or their representatives.
In South Dakota, an insurer’s violation of good faith and fair dealing is considered a “tort.” In law, a tort is a civil wrong committed against someone that results in harm or injury and for which the wrongdoer can be held liable.
How important is it to have an attorney for bad faith insurance claims?
While these cases may seem straightforward to you, they are often complex. Insurers will commonly deny that they did anything wrong. Large insurance companies also have teams of lawyers whose sole job is to defend their best interests.
To fight back, you will need a law firm that understands the applicable laws, has litigation experience in court, and is not afraid to stand up against these large corporate interests. At Zephier & LaFleur, we are known for protecting the underdog in fights such as these. Our team is well-versed in laws such as South Dakota’s Unfair Claims Practices Act that outline bad faith treatment by insurers.
Our team has decades of experience in successfully representing our clients in legal actions taken against insurance companies.
What damages are available in a bad faith case?
The following types of damages may be recovered in a bad faith insurance lawsuit:
- Benefits under breach of contract; these are the benefits you were due per the terms of your contract that were withheld plus interest.
- Consequential economic losses (those additional losses suffered as a consequence of the bad faith conduct), including emotional distress and attorney’s fees.
- Punitive damages in cases where insurers acted with oppression, malice, or fraud.
Your potential damages in any case will depend on the circumstances. Our Rapid City attorneys can advise you on this based on the specifics of your case.
What are some examples of Bad Faith?
Insurers can act in many ways that could be considered to be bad faith, such as:
- Unreasonably delaying the investigation of a claim
- Improperly valuing a claim
- Biased investigation of a claim
- Unreasonably delaying payment of the benefits owed the policyholder
- Unreasonably interpreting policy language to the detriment of the policyholder
- Unreasonably denying a claim
- Engaging in deceptive, coercive, or abusive practices
- Failing to accept a reasonable settlement offer from the insured
Any unreasonable non-compliance by the insurer in meeting the terms of the policy may be considered a breach of good faith for which it could be held accountable.
More Questions or Concerns? Contact Zephier & LaFleur Today
The above are general questions designed to give you a basic understanding of bad faith in insurance matters. For answers to specific questions about your case, schedule a free case evaluation with a Rapid City lawyer for bad faith insurance by calling (605) 349-1993 or contacting us online.
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