In theory, auto insurance companies provide us with peace of mind, knowing that, in the unfortunate event that we are in an accident, our medical bills and property damage will be paid for. Theory is all well and good, but all too often, Las Vegas residents find that their insurance company balks at paying the money that is theirs by right. In legal jargon, this is called “insurance bad faith” meaning, among other things, that a company breaks faith with a customer and goes back on the terms outlined in your legally binding policy. If this has happened to you, rest assured that the law is on your side. There are a number of things you can do to prove your rightful claim and get the money you deserve. Start out working on your own, but if the insurance company refuses to budge, a car accident lawyer can provide the clout and legal expertise so that will get you your money.
There are a number of reasons that a car insurance company may deny your claim. Some are legitimate, such as if you fell behind on payments or the car you were driving at the time of the incident was not covered under your policy. However, many times, insurance companies will trump up reasons to deny your claim or try to create legal loopholes for themselves. In these instances, they can be accused of acting in bad faith. You should check with an auto accident attorney to make sure you have a legitimate bad faith claim.
When working on your own, the first thing to remember is that you should remain persistent with your insurance company. Even if they deny your claim the first time, don’t take that as your final answer. Don’t take no for an answer if you believe you have a legitimate auto insurance claim. Make repeated calls to your insurance company, working your way up through the ranks of authority, if necessary. Keep detailed records of each conversation you have. If phone calls don’t work, send complaints in writing. Ask your insurer for a written explanation of denial of coverage. They are required by law to provide one, and refusal to do so is automatically grounds for a legitimate legal complaint. Never accept an improperly filed claim as reason for refusal. Though you should always follow the instructions provided by your company, a mistake in paperwork does not give them legal grounds to deny coverage. Act as your own advocate. Review your insurance policy to see if there is anything in the contract that would be legitimate grounds for denial of coverage. Look to see if you ever received notice from the company about reduction of coverage, and do research about the average cost of medical bills, car repairs, and resale value.
If none of this helps, it is probably time to hire a Las Vegas attorney, who can help you in a variety of ways. First, a lawyer can assist you in filing an official complaint with the Nevada Division of Insurance. A lawyer may also undertake negotiation or litigation with an insurance company. Often, the mere fact that you have hired a lawyer is enough to make an insurance company pay your bills. If a company is particularly obstinate, your attorney may take them to court. There, he or she will present all evidence regarding your lack of liability for the accident and the bad faith on the part of the insurance company. A lawsuit is generally considered a last resort, and hopefully, you will be able to sway your insurance company on your own. However, a good Las Vegas auto accident attorney can be an immense help in dealing with the most obdurate insurers.
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Lawlor Winston White & Murphy. He has been recognized for his excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”, (an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the State), and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite”.