What You Need To Know About Suing Your Insurer
When people pay for policies, insurance litigation may be the furthest thing from their minds. After all, the entire point of acquiring insurance is so you can reduce the risk of things like lawsuits. If you're worried that you might have to hire an insurance litigation attorney and sue, you should have a basic idea of what doing so entails.
Although it might be tempting to move ahead with a suit quickly, a judge usually expects a plaintiff to give their insurer a fair chance to deal with things. If the claim is still pending, a suit would not be deemed ripe. Likewise, you will probably need to put some effort into working with the insurance company to try to remedy the problem. Once you've proven that you've exhausted other reasonable remedies, then your case is likely ripe for review.
The Insurer's Duty
Plenty of insurance litigation centers on whether an insurer had a duty to settle a claim. Generally, an insurer has a duty to settle all valid claims. For example, someone who paid for flood insurance might end up in a dispute with the insurer over whether the flooding was the proximate cause of the damage a structure suffered. If the damage arose from something not included in the policy, then the insurer has no duty to pay the claim.
This can get more complex when a case involves a party suing the insured customer. A business might have coverage for premises liability, meaning insurance for things like slip-and-fall accidents at a store. The insurer may reject the claim if they feel it doesn't fit the policy or occurred in a place that wasn't covered. Consequently, the injured party might sue the customer directly. In that scenario, the customer may also end up suing the insurance company because they believe it breached its duty.
Another source of disputes is the dread policy limit. This can be particularly annoying if the insurer disagrees about the nature of the incident. For example, an insurer might pay you $50,000 as the maximum on your general liability policy for property damage, but you believe it should have fallen under your storm coverage that pays more. You might then pursue insurance litigation to recoup the difference.
Negotiations and Trials
While litigation implies you may end up at trial, it's still possible to negotiate until the matter is deliberated by a jury. If you can't reach a settlement, though, a judge will order hearings to determine if the dispute is worth the court's time. If it is, they will set a trial date.
Contact an insurance litigation attorney for more information.