Truck Accident Multimillion-Dollar Settlement.

"M.A.," a 30-year-old man, was driving to work in New Mexico. Suddenly a commercial truck veered across the center line and struck his vehicle head on. M.A. died at the scene. The McNeely Stephenson firm was hired shortly after the crash to represent the family of the deceased.

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Insurance Bad Faith Claims Made in Indianapolis

How our Indiana attorneys can help…Not only can a personal injury lawyer help by explaining the coverage of the insurance policy in terms that you can easily understand, he or she will act as a buffer between you and the adjuster assigned to your claim. If a settlement offer is made, your attorney will be able to advise you whether it is reasonable or may suggest a counter-offer.

Indiana Car Insurance Bad Faith

Insurance companies are required to deal with claimants in good faith. They must honor their contract with the insured and pay legitimate claims. That’s true whether the claim is being made as a result of a motor vehicle accident, a bicycle accident, a house fire, or an occupational injury. If they don’t, they may be held to account in a bad faith civil suit.

Read more below about insurance companies and bad faith claims handling. If you feel that an insurance company has been dealing with you unfairly, call Mike Stephenson, Indianapolis bad faith lawyer, at 855-206-2555 for a free initial consultation and evaluation of your potential claim against the company. When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Actions that could be evidence of bad faith

Not every denial of a claim or a disappointing offer is evidence of bad faith. Under Indiana law, Code § 27-4-1-4.5, these are some of the claim settlement practices declared to be unfair:

(1) Misrepresenting pertinent facts or provisions of the insurance policy provisions which relate to the accident; for example, telling the claimant that the policy doesn’t cover a certain type of loss when it actually does.

(2) Failing to acknowledge and act “reasonably promptly” when notified of a claim. While this is open to interpretation, most companies expect their employees to acknowledge a claim within 14 days.

(3) Failing to either affirm or deny coverage of claims within a reasonable time after proof of loss statements have been completed.

(4) Refusing to pay claims without conducting a reasonable investigation based upon all available information; for example, denying payment for a car wreck without obtaining a copy of the police report which could implicate their insured.

(5) Not attempting in good faith to effectuate prompt, fair, and equitable settlements of claims in which liability has become reasonably clear.

(6) Attempting to settle a claim for less than the amount to which a reasonable person would have believed he was entitled or attempting to substantially diminish a claim and compelling the insured to initiate litigation.

Disagreeable, but not Unfair

Dealing with an insurance company after an accident is not always a pleasant task. Their questions may make you feel defensive; they may want to take a recorded statement from you or require you to fill out papers; the insurance adjuster may not be very understanding of your problems . . . after all, their main focus is protecting their company’s bottom line.

These are some of the realities of having an accident claim that may be disagreeable but are not considered evidence of bad faith:

  • The insurance company may offer less than you think you deserve. Just because you and the adjuster have a difference of opinion about how much your claim is worth, this doesn’t necessarily mean the company is acting in bad faith. If they refuse to give you any reasons for their evaluation or seem to be simply bullying you into taking them to court, contact a bad faith lawyer. You can use our online contact form.
  • You may be required to give an Examination Under Oath (EUO) – and even more than one. Virtually all property and casualty policies (those that cover your home, auto, business, or contents) give the insurance company the option of investigating your claim by means of an EUO. Because your answers to the questions can be used to deny your claim, you should seek counsel from an experienced attorney to help you with this.
  • You may disagree with an insurer’s denial of your claim. But unless the denial was made with “dishonest purpose, moral obliquity, furtive design, or ill will,” the company will not be found to have acted in bad faith.

How an Attorney Can Help

Not only can a personal injury lawyer help by explaining the coverage of the insurance policy in terms that you can easily understand, he or she will act as a buffer between you and the adjuster assigned to your claim. If a settlement offer is made, your attorney will be able to advise you whether it is reasonable or may suggest a counter-offer.

More than that, studies have shown that claimants who have hired attorneys wind up getting significantly more than those who go it alone. The Insurance Research Council found that, on average, insurance payouts are 3.5 times higher for clients who have legal counsel.

Having a lawyer representing you in your claim against an insurance company may discourage any effort on their part to unreasonably delay or deny what you are due. If they do act in bad faith and there is clear and convincing evidence that they acted with malice, fraud, gross negligence or oppressiveness, you may be able to recover punitive damages in excess of the policy’s limits.

real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

Let Our Resources Back You Up

Pursuing a bad faith claim against an insurance company is a complex undertaking. You will need an attorney who understands the case law on bad faith claims handling and one who has the resources to take on a large company with its own legal department and plenty of assets to fight your claim.

At McNeely Stephenson, we have been successfully litigating Indiana personal injury cases since 1982, putting our resources to work for those who have been denied fair dealing and just compensation. Call us as soon as you have been injured in a car, truck or bicycle crash, in a workplace accident, or as a result of a medical mistake, so we can help you obtain the compensation you are entitled to. Dial 855-206-2555.

Personal Injury Lawyer
March 29, 2019 / Premises Liability, Wrongful Death
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