People buy insurance so that it is there when disaster strikes. Policyholders (most of us) who faithfully pay monthly premiums year over year should be able to count on the insurance company to be there for us when something bad happens. The type of protection purchased comes in many different forms, which is why there are many different insurance policies. Some insurance policies protect policyholders from the financial burden of having to rebuild a house if it is damaged by storms. Other insurance policies protect policyholders from legal liability if they accidentally hurt someone – like in a car accident for instance. In each of these situations, insurance is purchased to protect policyholders from having to come out of pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebuild or defend against personal lawsuits.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not always fulfill their end of the bargain. Instead of timely paying the claim, they may either deny or refuse to pay a fair amount to resolve the claim. When the insurance company does so in “bad faith” (i.e. lacks a legitimate basis to deny the claim or negligently fails to settle a lawsuit within applicable limits of coverage exposing you to a judgment against your personal assets), you need an attorney.
Atlanta, Georgia based attorney Bryan Baer at The Baer Law Firm has experience with statutory bad faith claims and can successfully help you assert your legal rights under the law. Call 404-THEBAER (404-843-2237). Atlanta insurance bad faith lawyer Bryan Baer will meet with you in a free consultation to answer your questions.
Georgia has a bad faith statute designed to protect policyholders when the insurer unfairly denies an insurance claim. The statute allows a policyholder to receive additional damages and attorneys’ fees when an insurer denies a claim in bad faith.
Some examples of situations that may give rise to a bad faith claim in Georgia include:
Liability insurance is to protect policyholders from legal liability. If you are in an auto accident and someone is hurt, or if you get sued by someone who claims that you damaged them or their property, you likely face the threat of legal liability. Often, the only way the insurance company can protect you from legal liability is to settle the claim against you so that your personal assets are protected.
In Georgia, an insurance company has a duty to protect the people it insures from legal liability by settling the claim against them if the insurance company has a reasonable opportunity to do so within policy limits. Sometimes the insurance company refuses to pay a fair amount to resolve a claim even when liability is clear and rejects the opportunity to settle within policy limits. This is sometimes referred to as “low balling” which subjects the insured to unnecessary lawsuits and liability in excess of coverage which puts the insured’s personal assets and even income at risk of being collected upon. This is known as negligent or bad faith failure to settle.
In addition to failing to fairly pay a valid claim, an insurer will sometimes institute one or more legal actions or proceedings against an insured such as a Declaratory Judgment Action or Examination Under Oath.
A Declaratory Judgment Action is a lawsuit filed by an insurance company against the insured party (and sometimes the injured party as well) to have a Court declare that the purchased insurance does not actually cover the claim.
An Examination Under Oath is a tool insurance companies use to delay or deny coverage as opposed to accept and pay coverage. An Examination Under Oath allows an insurance company to ask you questions in person, under oath and typically before a court reporter. It takes place in an office setting but is essentially the equivalent to you testifying in a court of law. The process can be intimidating. Practically all insurance policies afford the insurance company the right to conduct an Examination Under Oath. If the insurer asks you to submit to an Examination Under Oath, it is often because they do not believe you are being truthful with them in one or more aspects of the claim. For example, an insurer may ask a homeowner to submit to an Examination Under Oath following a tragic home fire. Instead of paying the loss, the insurer may look for a reason to claim the insured intentionally set fire to the home and deny paying the claim. You should not subject yourself to any such questioning from an insurer under oath without excellent legal representation.
Atlanta, Georgia personal injury attorney Bryan Baer has handled dozens of insurance coverage and insurance bad-faith cases representing insureds and injured victims alike and proven that the insurance company was wrong in its coverage denial. The case below demonstrates how courageous and compassionate representation can lead to successful results.
A subcontractor negligently performed work during construction that damaged existing materials and work the general contractor had already installed and performed. Accordingly, the general contractor had to come out of pocket roughly $900,000 to fix the damage made by the subcontractor. The general contractor made a claim against the subcontractor but the insurer for the subcontractor refused to pay or defend the claim. Instead, the insurer denied coverage for the subcontractor leaving the subcontractor without resources to pay. Attorney Bryan Baer first obtained a judgment against the subcontractor and then had the subcontractor assign its claim for coverage to the general contractor. Judgment in hand, attorney Bryan Baer filed suit against the insurer and ultimately prevailed, requiring the insurer to pay damages in the amount of $1,000,000 to his client the general contractor.
If your insurance company is not resolving a claim to your satisfaction or has denied your claim for reasons that are not clear, you need to hire attorney Bryan Baer. The Baer Law Firm works with insurance companies every day and knows what it takes to get them to honor the obligations made to policyholders. The Baer Law Firm has the experience and expertise to achieve fair results for deserving victims. Call 404-THEBAER (404-843-2237) or fill out our online contact form so we may discuss your case in a free consultation.