Medical malpractice cases could lead to bad faith claims

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

For victims of a medical malpractice case, the confusion and frustration they experience can lead them to feel isolated and alone. For many, the only help they receive is from their insurance company. While victims may think an insurance company understands their suffering and is willing to assume responsibility for it, it may come as a shock when they realize that isn’t always the case.

Bad faith claims are filed against insurance companies all the time. The term ‘bad faith’ is used to describe a situation where an insurance company is accused of wrongdoing by either their insured or the third party seeking compensation. For their own insured, the premium they pay is in exchange for a promise that the insurance company will provide coverage against a claim. For a third party claim, it is the responsibility of the insurance company to handle the claim accurately, fairly and in a timely manner.

Insurance companies are expected to operate in a certain way; in good faith. When they don’t, through misrepresentation, false information, omission or delay, they can be held responsible. A bad faith claim may be filed against an insurance company by their insured or a third party if they believe that the insurance adjuster engaged in fraud, lies or other dishonest means of negotiation. Likewise, if an insurance adjuster is unwilling to provide their own insured with reason for a certain negotiation or settlement amount, their insured may file a bad faith claim.

If a claim of bad faith is found to be true, the insurance company could be on the hook to pay damages that are much greater than the original policy limits. This possibility usually causes insurance companies to aggressively defend themselves against these claims. For individuals that have suffered a loss due to medical malpractice and feel that the insurance company handling the claim has acted in a way believed to be in bad faith, they may choose to pursue a claim against the insurance company.

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