Insurance Claim Lawyer Chicago IL
Though you’ve faithfully paid your insurance premiums for years, now that you have filed a claim after a major loss, you might be shocked to experience pushback from your insurance carrier. Perhaps they’re dragging their feet about paying you, maybe they’ve offered a settlement which is far less than fair, or they might have denied your claim altogether. It’s not you — these responses from insurance carriers are far more common than most people realize. At Childress Loucks & Plunkett, we know better because our insurance claim lawyer has represented many Chicago, IL residents who were treated unfairly by their own insurance company. In fact, we have recovered substantial payouts for countless hard working folks who were effectively victimized twice: once by a major loss and then secondly by their insurance company. Call us today to find out how our insurance claim lawyer may be able to help you as well.
The Basics of Filing a Complaint with a State’s Department of Insurance
When policyholders are treated unfairly by their insurance providers, they generally have a few options available to them while they determine how best to respond. Two of the most potentially helpful avenues are filing a bad faith insurance claim with the assistance of an experienced insurance claim lawyer serving Chicago, IL and filing a complaint with the state’s Department of Insurance. Depending on the details of a policyholder’s situation, it may be appropriate to take both of these steps or to pursue just one of them.
If you are a policyholder concerned about the ways in which you have been treated by your insurance provider, an insurance claim lawyer in Chicago, IL who is experienced in this area of law will be able to advise you according to the unique circumstances surrounding your insurance-related situation. Please note that you may be able to file a complaint even if your insurance provider did not explicitly act in bad faith. Although, if you wish to file a legal claim, your provider generally must have behaved in an intentionally dishonest or misleading way.
Filing a Complaint
If you opt to file a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance, know that most complaints handled by this agency involve the kinds of bad faith behaviors that providers may generally be held accountable for in court. For example, if a provider has rejected a claim explicitly covered by a policy, unnecessarily delayed or underpaid a claim, failed to thoroughly investigate a claim or misled you about your policy’s rates or premiums, you may have grounds for a complaint and grounds for a bad faith claim. However, you may be able to file a complaint regarding the company’s unfair or unreasonable dealings even if the provider’s behavior does not rise to the legal level of bad faith. If you have questions about this threshold, please contact an attorney experienced in this area of law.
Filing a complaint is usually a fairly simple process and may generally be done online or by submitting paperwork to the agency. Once you have submitted your complaint, the DOI will likely open an investigation into your situation. Please be advised that you will not receive the kind of personal attention and urgent responses from the DOI as you would from an insurance claim lawyer for Chicago, IL. Processing your complaint may take a significant amount of time and may or may not lead to any significant results. With that said, there are unquestionable benefits associated with alerting the government to a provider’s misdeeds. A single complaint may not generate much action, but if others choose to submit their complaints alongside yours, change may eventually occur.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you are interested in filing a complaint with your state’s department of insurance and/or filing a bad faith insurance claim with the courts, please consider reaching out to a Chicago, IL insurance claim lawyer for assistance. Lawyers who specialize in bad faith actions are best positioned to advise you of your legal options and to help you navigate any course of action you ultimately choose to take. Under certain circumstances, an attorney may even be able to resolve your insurance dispute with your provider before any action needs to be taken, if you are interested in having your lawyer negotiate on your behalf. Regardless of what path(s) you choose, an insurance claim lawyer in Chicago, IL from Childress Loucks & Plunkett will be able to advise you and guide you through relevant processes.
Are there alternatives to filing a lawsuit against my insurance carrier?
There are three main alternative options: mediation, arbitration, and appraisal. Below is an overview of each. Give us a call to speak with our insurance claim lawyer in Chicago, IL to find out more.
- Mediation. In this process, the claimant and a representative from the insurance company meet with a third-party professional mediator. The mediator will take a neutral position in an informal setting (as opposed to a courtroom) to negotiate a resolution between the two parties.
- Arbitration. This process is more formal than mediation and can be binding or non-binding. The third-party arbitrator can work with the insurer and client to help them reach an agreement, or else the arbitrator can come up with a resolution on their own and dictate their decision. If the two parties had agreed to a binding decision beforehand, they must live with the decision made by the arbitrator.
- Appraisal. This method can resolve a dispute regarding the insured loss. An appraisal in this context is not to be confused with a real estate appraisal. It’s a procedure that varies greatly in terms of efficiency and cost.
How long can I wait before deciding to hire an insurance claim lawyer?
Every situation is different because of the unique combination of variables specific to your circumstances. However, as a general rule you should consider consulting an insurance claim lawyer at least 30 days before the one year anniversary of your loss. The reason for this is that you may otherwise hit the statute of limitations deadline for your right to pursue civil litigation against the insurance company. It may be best to contact an insurance claim lawyer before that in case the statute goes into effect sooner under the circumstances. If the insurance company wants their lawyer to question you, or they want to examine you under oath, contact an insurance claim lawyer before you agree to the company’s request.
How Much Compensation Is Awarded in Bad Faith Lawsuits?
There are always variables “at play” in lawsuits which help to determine the amount of compensation that may be awarded in the event of a successful settlement or verdict. As a result, it is virtually impossible to cite a potential compensation amount tied to a specific lawsuit type without first learning about the unique circumstances of any particular case.
When an individual schedules a consultation with an experienced insurance claim lawyer in, that Chicago insurance claim lawyer is able to learn about the details of the individual’s situation and may advise him or her of available legal options accordingly. Once this process is complete, it becomes far easier to estimate a potential damage award amount that may be available in the event that a suit settles or is tried successfully.
Bad Faith Claims
When an insurance provider rejects, delays or underpays a claim that should be properly paid out under a policyholder’s account, that policyholder may have grounds to file a bad faith insurance claim. Similarly, if a provider behaves in other ways that are deemed to be intentionally dishonest, these actions (or inactions) may provide grounds for a suit. For example, if a provider fails to properly investigate a claim, fails to provide legitimate reasoning for denial of a claim or misleads the policyholder in regards to the language of the policy or the nature of the law, this may be considered behavior in bad faith.
Damage Awards for Bad Faith Claims
When a bad faith claim is successfully settled or tried, the damages awarded may far exceed the value of the original claim submitted, as a insurance claim lawyer in Chicago, IL can explain. The reasoning for this financial disconnect is relatively straightforward: The law seeks to discourage providers found to have acted in bad faith from doing so again in the future. When insurance providers are compelled to pay greater damages than the amount they originally would have had to pay a policyholder, that provider is disincentivized from behaving similarly moving forward.
For example, in Matson Terminals v. Home Insurance Co., a jury awarded the policyholder $33.65 million, even though the original claim for earthquake damage that the business submitted to its insurance provider was $10 million. The jury concluded that the original claim rejection had been in bad faith. The jury awarded both punitive and compensatory damages associated with both the bad faith denial and the fact that the provider had encouraged the business to make repairs in connection with its coverage.
Answers to Additional Legal Questions
If you have questions about bad faith claims, please consider reaching out to an attorney experienced in this area of law. It is sometimes possible for an insurance claim lawyer in Chicago, IL to successfully negotiate with an insurance company on a client’s behalf in order to settle a challenging claim out of court. But when such efforts prove futile, a bad faith lawsuit may offer you a chance to right the ways in which your insurer has wronged you, obtain significant damages and hopefully inspire the offending insurer to change its ways in regards to similar claims made by other policyholders in the future.
Childress Loucks & Plunkett: We Are Here When You Need Us
We realize you may not know when it’s time to hire a lawyer to protect your rights in a dispute with your insurance company. For that reason, we offer a free consultation during which you can discuss your case with an insurance claim lawyer Chicago, IL residents trust and receive the answers you need. Call Childress Loucks & Plunkett today to learn more!