Seattle Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer
A knowledgeable Seattle insurance bad faith attorney at The Fang Law Firm can help you navigate the complex litigation process. You and your insurance company are in a contract. When your insurance company violates that contract, they can be held liable for extra contractual damages. When an insurance company violates the contract they have with you, you can file a claim against your insurance company in a Washington state court for bad faith.
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Our Seattle Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer Has the Experience You Need
- We win. We have won 98 percent of our 10,000 litigated cases.
- We’re hands on. Unlike other bad faith litigation firms, we don’t hand you off to our support staff. One of our bad faith insurance attorneys will be with you every step of the way.
- No upfront costs. At The Fang Law Firm, you don’t pay unless we win.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Seattle Insurance Bath Faith Claim?
RCW 48.30.015 provides that the court can award damages sustained, reasonable attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. The court can also increase the damages to an amount not to exceed three times the actual damages if the court finds the insurer acted unreasonably in denying a claim for coverage or payment of benefits or violated WAC 284-30-330, WAC 284-30-350, WAC 284-30-360 (d) WAC 284-30-370,(e) WAC 284-30-380.
The court can award reasonable attorney’s fees, actual and statutory litigation costs and expert witness fees to the first party claimant.
What is Bad Faith?
Washington’s bad faith laws derive from both statutory construction and the common law. Bad faith claims are meant to punish and hold insurance companies accountable for failing to act in the best interest of the insured. Washington bad faith insurance law derives from four places: common law, statutory criticism, the consumer act, and the insurance fair conduct act.
Under common law, a claimant can file a tort action against an insurer for failing to adhere to the duty to use good faith settlement practices. The good faith duty between an insurer and an insured is derived from the insurer’s fiduciary duty to his insured. The duty of good faith implies a broad obligation of fair dealing and equal considerations of the insured’s interests. To win a bad faith claim under common law, the insured must prove the following:
- The insurer had a duty to the insured
- The insurer breached that duty
- The breach of that duty caused damages
Washington Statutory Construction
Washington provides recovery under a bad-faith claim in WAC 284-30-330. WAC 284-30-330 provides a comprehensive list of bad-faith settlement practices for insurance companies, including but not limited to:
- Misrepresenting pertinent facts or insurance policy provisions.
- Failing to acknowledge and act reasonably promptly upon communications with respect to claims arising under insurance policies.
- Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of claims arising under insurance policies.
- Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation.
- Failing to affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after fully completed proof of loss documentation has been submitted.
- Not attempting in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear.
- In particular, this includes an obligation to promptly pay property damage claims to innocent third parties in clear liability situations. If two or more insurers share liability, they should arrange to make appropriate payment, leaving to themselves the burden of apportioning liability.
- Compelling a first party claimant to initiate or submit to litigation, arbitration, or appraisal to recover amounts due under an insurance policy by offering substantially less than the amounts ultimately recovered in such actions or proceedings.
- Attempting to settle a claim for less than the amount to which a reasonable person would have believed he or she was entitled by reference to written or printed advertising material accompanying or made part of an application.
- Making a claim payment to a first party claimant or beneficiary not accompanied by a statement setting forth the coverage under which the payment is made.
- Asserting to a first party claimant a policy of appealing arbitration awards in favor of insureds or first party claimants for the purpose of compelling them to accept settlements or compromises less than the amount awarded in arbitration.
- Delaying the investigation or payment of claims by requiring a first party claimant or his or her physician to submit a preliminary claim report and then requiring subsequent submissions which contain substantially the same information.
- Failing to promptly settle claims, where liability has become reasonably clear, under one portion of the insurance policy coverage in order to influence settlements under other portions of the insurance policy coverage.
- Failing to promptly provide a reasonable explanation of the basis in the insurance policy in relation to the facts or applicable law for denial of a claim or for the offer of a compromise settlement.
- Unfairly discriminating against claimants because they are represented by a public adjuster.
- Failing to expeditiously honor drafts given in settlement of claims. A failure to honor a draft within three working days after notice of receipt by the payor bank will constitute a violation of this provision. Dishonor of a draft for valid reasons related to the settlement of the claim will not constitute a violation of this provision.
Washington has also codified a claim for unreasonable denial of a claim for coverage or payment of benefits in RCW 48.01.015.
Washington Consumer Protection Act
WAC 284.30.330 provides that a claimant whose insurance claim has been unfairly denied may file a claim under the Washington Consumer Protections Act. The elements of a claim of bad faith under the Washington Consumer Protections Act are as follows:
- An unfair or deceptive act or practice,
- In trade or commerce,
- That impacts the public interest,
- Which causes injury to the party in his business or property, and
- Which injury is causally linked to the unfair or deceptive act.
Washington Insurance Fair Conduct Act
Washington provides an additional avenue of recovery for those who have had their claim unfairly denied by their insurance. Under the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, an insurer may not unreasonably deny a claim for coverage or payment of benefits to a first party claimant. The IFCA does not apply to health insurance claims and only applies to first-party claimants, not third party claimants.
If you have a valid claim and the insurance company denies your claim, we can help. The Seattle bad faith insurance attorneys at The Fang Law Firm can help you recover compensation from insurance companies engaging in bad faith practices such as claim denial. Call us today at (206) 489-5140 and one of our skilled bad-faith insurance attorneys will walk you through the financial recovery options available to you. Schedule your free consultation with our law firm today.