Can You Sue Your Own Insurance Company After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
If you are in a car accident, you will most likely have friends or family members suggesting you sue the other driver and their insurance company. While this usually occurs when an accident is caused by another’s negligent conduct, it is not always the case because Pennsylvania has a “no-fault” system. There are also situations where an accident does not involve another vehicle. If your insurance company is required to compensate you for your losses after a car accident and denies your claim, you are entitled to file a lawsuit. Our Philadelphia car accident attorney from the Reiff Law Firm looks at dealing with your own insurance company in more detail below.
No-Fault Car Insurance and Pennsylvania Car Accidents
Pennsylvania follows a no-fault system regarding automotive accidents and car insurance. Under this system, if you are involved in an accident, your personal car insurance coverage will pay for your medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs incurred because of the injury. However, this compensation only goes up to your policy limits.
Just as the name implies, a claim under a no-fault system is made regardless of who caused a crash. That means, if you are in a car accident, the first claim you submit will be with your insurance provider. If you want to file a lawsuit against another driver and their insurance company, your injury will have to surpass a severity threshold. If that is the case, our Pennsylvania car accident attorney would file a personal injury lawsuit for you based on the other driver’s negligent conduct.
Insurance Company “Bad Faith” After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania
What do you do if another driver is not involved? What if your insurance company denies your claim? If this occurs, you should talk with our Bucks County car accident attorney because a lawsuit could be an option. Typically, when you file a lawsuit against your insurance company, it is based on “bad faith” rather than negligence. As a plaintiff, you are alleging that your insurance company failed to honor its obligation under the policy’s terms.
To prove bad faith, a plaintiff usually must establish that an insurer intentionally acted when denying the claim. Some common practices constitute bad faith. For example, an insurance company must make a reasonable investigation into a claim before denying it. If a thorough investigation was not conducted, then the denial could be challenged. In other cases, an insurance adjuster will ignore or purposefully misconstrue obvious information. Insurance agents that engage in intentional misconduct could be found to have acted in bad faith, opening the insurance company up to liability.
Unfair Insurance Settlement Offers for a Pennsylvania Car Accident
Pennsylvania law requires that an insurance company deals with an accident fairly, conducting forthright negotiations when working on a settlement. If you were in a car accident in Pennsylvania, you would anticipate that your insurance company would offer you a fair settlement amount. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. However, just because you believe an offer is unfair does not make it a fact. If your insurance company offered you what you think is an unfair offer, you should speak with our Pennsylvania car accident attorney.
When evaluating an insurance company’s offer, our office will look for some specific conduct to demonstrate the negotiations were not forthright. To have the basis for a lawsuit, your insurance company must have misrepresented their coverage, ignored communications, taken excessive time to respond, failed to investigate the claim, or purposefully delayed offering a reasonable settlement.
Pennsylvania Car Insurance Companies and Breach of Contract
When someone files a lawsuit against another driver after a car accident, they are usually alleging negligent conduct. If you are suing your own insurance company after an accident, you are probably filing a breach of contract claim. This means that our Pennsylvania car accident attorney will argue that your insurance company failed to comply with the terms of your policy.
It is not uncommon for some insurance policies to contain ambiguous language in its terms to protect the insurance company. Our office will argue that any unclear terms should be read in favor of the insured. Otherwise, if the policy terms are clear, it could be easier to establish that a breach of contract occurred.
Damages Available in a Lawsuit Against Your Car Insurance Company in Pennsylvania
When you file a claim with your car insurance company in Pennsylvania, you are typically looking to be compensated for your medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs. Therefore, if you sue your insurance company for a breach of contract, you are generally looking to recover what they should have paid along with any additional costs you incurred because of the failure to comly with the policy’s terms.
In cases of bad faith, you could be entitled to some additional damages, such as the emotional and mental distress caused by your insurance company’s actions. If the insurance provider’s conduct was especially egregious, willful, and malicious, our Montgomery County car accident attorney could seek punitive damages.
Call Our Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Insurance Company’s Obligations
If you have been in a car accident, you might be unsure about what steps you should take next. While getting medical treatment should be on the top of your list, preserving and understanding your legal rights should follow shortly. Our Pennsylvania car accident attorney can help you understand your options. In many cases, you are entitled to sue an at-fault driver and their insurance company. However, in other situations, you might have to sue your own insurance company. To understand your legal options, call the Reiff Law Firm at (215) 709-6940 to schedule a free consultation.