Can You Sue Your Own Insurance Company After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
When you file a claim with your insurance carrier after a car accident, you do so expecting to recover compensation for your injuries. If your claim is wrongly denied, you may be able to file a lawsuit 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. 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 attorneys can help you bring a bad faith or breach of contract claim against your insurance company so that you can begin to heal after a car accident in Pennsylvania.
We’re dedicated to helping car accident victims recover the compensation they deserve. For a free case evaluation with the Philadelphia car accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm, call today at (215) 709-6940.
No-Fault Car Insurance and Pennsylvania Car Accidents
Pennsylvania follows a no-fault system regarding automotive accidents and car insurance. As a victim, it’s important to understand how this system might impact your access to compensation after a car accident.
Under Pennsylvania’s no-fault 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 own 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 attorneys will file a personal injury lawsuit for you based on the other driver’s negligent conduct.
Can You Sue Your Insurance Company for Denying a Claim in Pennsylvania?
When car accident victims in Pennsylvania file a claim with their own insurance company after a crash, they expect their claim to be paid. If a claim is denied, victims might be surprised but think there is nothing to be done. In reality, that’s not always the case. If an insurance company acted in bad faith or in breach of contract and denied your claim, you may be able to file a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, insurance companies might employ certain tactics or engage in unsavory behavior, resulting in an unfair claim denial for car accident victims. When this happens, victims should reach out to our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys right away. Our lawyers can evaluate information from throughout the claims process that might indicate bad faith or a breach of contract.
While car accident victims might think that suing a negligent driver for compensation is the only route after a crash, that’s not necessarily true, especially in a no-fault state like Pennsylvania. Our lawyers can help you determine if your insurance company acted in bad faith or in breach of contract, thus enabling you to file a lawsuit against your carrier.
Suing an Insurance Company for “Bad Faith” After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania
What do you do if another driver is not involved in a car accident? What if your insurance company denies your claim? If this occurs, you should talk with our Bucks County car accident attorneys because a lawsuit might 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 can be challenged. In other cases, an insurance adjuster might ignore or purposefully misconstrue obvious information. Insurance agents that engage in intentional misconduct might be found to have acted in bad faith, opening the insurance company up to liability.
To prove your insurance company engaged in such conduct, our attorneys will gather records of communications and other evidence that demonstrates an insurance company acted in bad faith to deny your claim in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Car Insurance Companies and Breach of Contract
In some cases, insurance companies in Pennsylvania do not necessarily act in bad faith but in breach of contract. This can result in an unfair settlement or claim denial that leaves you without compensation. To recover the damages you deserve, you might be able to file a lawsuit against your insurance carrier for breach of contract.
An insurance policy is a contract, meaning all persons or companies involved agree to hold up their ends of the agreement. Acting in breach of that contract might lead to an unfair settlement offer from an insurance company or other result that is unfavorable to victims in Pennsylvania.
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 may be filing a breach of contract claim. This means that our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys 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 may be easier to establish that a breach of contract occurred.
Unfair Insurance Settlement Offers for a Pennsylvania Car Accident
After a car accident in Pennsylvania, victims turn to their own insurance to recover compensation. If your carrier intentionally offers you a lowball settlement that doesn’t reflect your current policy or your injuries, it is important to be able to identify that.
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 might anticipate that your insurance company will 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 attorneys for clarification.
When evaluating an insurance company’s offer, our lawyers 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.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Suing Your Own Insurance Company After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
If you believe that your insurance carrier wrongly denied your claim and acted in bad faith or in breach of contract in the process, reach out to our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys. It is important to act quickly and learn if you have a valid claim, as victims do not have long to pursue litigation against an insurance company in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania’s filing deadline to bring a bad faith claim against an insurance company is two years. This means claimants have just two years from the date of wrongful conduct or the date of an unfair claim denial to sue an insurance company.
While this may appear like ample time to decide to sue, it is not. Insurance carriers are often powerful companies that do not want to admit to or accept fault for misconduct. Because of this, it is crucial that victims act immediately and consult our attorneys right away. The more time you have to build a strong case against an insurance company for bad faith or breach of contract, the better.
Not to mention, the longer victims wait to sue an insurance company after an unfair claim denial, the more emotional and financial distress they may experience. That is why it is best to consult our lawyers right away so that you can bring a claim against an insurance company as soon as possible in Pennsylvania.
Damages Available in a Lawsuit Against Your Car Insurance Company in Pennsylvania
Suppose your insurance company wrongly denied your claim after a car accident in Pennsylvania, and you file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. In that case, you may be able to recover considerable compensation. To improve your likelihood of success, hire our experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorneys.
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 comply 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 attorneys might seek punitive damages.
What Can You Do if Your Insurance Company Didn’t Act in Bad Faith?
Unfortunately, insurance claim denials are not uncommon. Insurance policies are full of complex language and caveats that might negatively affect victims when they file a claim after a car accident. If your insurance coverage is not comprehensive and results in a claim denial, you may have other options for recovery in Pennsylvania.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may not need to worry about filing a claim with your insurance carrier after a car accident, despite Pennsylvania being a no-fault state. Certain catastrophic injuries automatically qualify victims to sue a negligent driver directly, allowing them to avoid the challenges and stress filing an insurance claim might bring.
Catastrophic injuries are permanent injuries that significantly impact a victim’s quality of life and prevent them from working. Our Pennsylvania car accident attorneys can explain if your injuries meet the criteria of catastrophic injuries so that you can learn whether or not you can sue a negligent driver directly for compensation. This option allows you to avoid filing a claim with your insurance carrier altogether. However, this route is not available to all victims in Pennsylvania because of the state’s no-fault insurance system for car accidents.
Call Our Pennsylvania Car Accident Attorneys 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 attorneys 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 case evaluation.