Colorado Insurance Attorney Assisting Plaintiffs in Pueblo
If you were injured in a car crash or another accident, or sustained damage to your home or business, and filed an insurance claim, you deserve to be treated fairly by the insurance company. What is fair treatment? Colorado law (CRS 10-3-1115 and 10-3-1116) requires insurance companies to do many things when it comes to handling insurance claims, from investigating claims in a timely manner to answering questions about the insurance policy to making reasonable settlement offers. When an insurance company does not do what it is required to do under the law, it may be acting in bad faith. Our aggressive Pueblo insurance bad faith lawyers can assess your case today.
It can be difficult to know exactly what constitutes bad faith under state law, but many people have a sense for when they are being treated unfairly. Even if you do not know the precise legal definition of bad faith, you probably know that the insurance company is not acting appropriately. If you have concerns about how you are being treated by the insurance company after filing a claim, you should know that you may be eligible to receive damages if an insurance company has treated you in bad faith. At McCormick & Murphy, P.C., we have years of experience assisting clients who are seeking compensation from an insurance company, and we can begin evaluating your claim today.
Duties an Insurer Owes Under Colorado Law in Pueblo
Many insureds make the mistake of assuming that their insurance company will treat them fairly because they have been loyal customers or have paid their premiums in a timely manner. No matter what kind of insurance premiums you pay or who your insurance company is, it is essential to remember that no insurance company is on the side of its insureds. To be sure, insurance companies are businesses that often do everything possible to avoid paying claims. If an insurance avoids paying a claim, it can save money for itself. While many insurance companies avoid paying claims within the boundaries of the law (it is not necessarily unlawful to deny a claim), some insurers act in bad faith.
When an insurance company acts in bad faith, it can be liable for substantial damages under Colorado law. Under CRS 10-3-1115 and Colorado case law, the following are examples of duties that an insurance company owes to an insured, and failing to abide by these duties may result in a successful bad faith claim:
To investigate every claim in a timely manner;
To conduct an investigation before denying an insurance claim;
To settle claims when the investigation yields evidence proving that the insured is owed benefits;
Explaining the terms of the insured’s policy;
Communicating in a timely manner with the insured, and responding to communication from the insured;
Providing information about a coverage decision (whether the claim will be accepted or denied) in a timely manner after the insured files a claim; and
Offering a reasonable settlement offer (and not low-balling the insured).
The Colorado Supreme Court recently heard a case concerning insurance bad faith claims and ruled in favor of the policyholder. That case, Schultz v. GEICO Casualty Company (2018), clarified that insurance companies will be evaluated for bad faith based on the information the insurance company had at the time it denied a claim, failed to timely investigate a claim, or took other actions with regard to coverage.
Who is Eligible to File a Pueblo Insurance Bad Faith Claim?
We often think about individuals who are treated unfairly when an insurance company acts in bad faith. Under Colorado law, all of the following persons or entities may be eligible to file an insurance bad faith claim:
Other legal entity “asserting an entitlement to benefits owed directly to or on behalf of an insured under an insurance policy.”
As you can see, nearly all individuals and businesses may be eligible to file an insurance bad faith claim in Pueblo.
Damages in a Pueblo, Colorado Bad Faith Insurance Case
If you file an insurance bad faith claim and win your case, CRS 10-3-1116 authorizes a plaintiff to obtain a variety of damages including two times the amount of the benefit the insured would have been paid, reasonable attorney’s fees, and court costs.
In addition, the insured who files a claim may be eligible to receive damages for a breach of contract. An insurance policy creates a contract between the insurer and the insured: the insurer promises to provide certain types of coverage provided the insured pays premiums and abides by other terms of the policy. Accordingly, if an insurance company acts in bad faith and fails to pay out a claim or makes other coverage decisions that are not in line with the policy, then the insured may have a breach of contract claim. In some cases, punitive damages can be awarded. Any damages awarded in a breach of contract claim are in addition to those awarded specifically under CRS 10-3-1116. An experienced Pueblo insurance bad faith attorney can provide you with more information and can help you to understand the amount of damages you may be eligible to receive.
Signs a Pueblo, CO Insurer May Be Acting in Bad Faith
How do you know when to seek help from an insurance bad faith attorney in Pueblo? Anytime you have concerns that you are not being treated fairly by the insurance company and that it is acting in bad faith, you should seek legal help as soon as possible. The following are examples of common signs that the insurer is acting in bad faith:
Does not return your calls or emails;
Has not provided you with information about investigating your claim;
Significant amount of time has gone by and you have not heard from the insurance company;
Your claim was denied almost immediately without an investigation; or
You received a settlement offer for significantly less than what you should receive.
Statute of Limitations for a Pueblo Insurance Bad Faith Claim
Under Colorado law (CRS 13-80-102), you need to contact an attorney quickly if you want to remain eligible to file a claim. The statute of limitations in a bad faith insurance lawsuit is two years after the cause of action accrues. In other words, you have two years from the date that the insurance company acted in bad faith to file a lawsuit. This can be difficult to determine, so acting promptly is very important
Contact a Pueblo Insurance Bad Faith Attorney
Do you have questions about filing an insurance bad faith lawsuit in Colorado? Our Pueblo insurance bad faith attorneys can help. Contact McCormick & Murphy, P.C. to learn more about the services we provide to clients and their families in Colorado.