Insurance Claim Assistance / Litigation
Lawyers Helping Policyholders Pursue Insurance Coverage in Florida and Alabama
When someone who is responsible for harming you does not have insurance, it may make sense to file a claim with your own insurer. Your insurance company must act in good faith throughout its dealings with you. Unfortunately, many insurers do not prioritize the efficient and fair resolution of claims but instead try to maximize their profits. An experienced insurance claim attorney at Milam & Milam can help you handle an insurance claim or file a lawsuit in Alabama or Florida if the right grounds exist. You may be able to pursue a claim for breach of contract or bad faith against your insurer.
Grounds for Bad Faith Litigation
One of the grounds for suing an insurer is a bad-faith failure to pay and defend against a legitimate claim. For example, the tort of bad faith in Alabama permits a policyholder to hold an insurance company liable if he or she can show that the company owed coverage and other rights under a particular policy, and yet the insurer denied the claim with no arguable basis for denial. Often these lawsuits are based on a denial or failure to investigate the claim, either with malice or with intentional or reckless disregard.
A "normal" Alabama bad faith lawsuit requires the plaintiff to show the existence of an insurance contract, a breach by the insurer, and an intentional refusal to pay the plaintiff’s claim. Furthermore, the insured person must present proof that there was no legitimate or arguable reason for refusal, the insurer knew that there was no such reason, and in some cases that the insurer intentionally failed to decide whether there was a legitimate basis for denial. In other words, the plaintiff cannot simply point out that the insurer failed to pay a claim. It is necessary to show that the insurance company had no legal or factual grounds to deny the claim.
There is also a doctrine of "abnormal" bad faith in Alabama. This can apply when an insurer intentionally or recklessly fails to investigate claims, or the insurer intentionally or recklessly fails to properly evaluate or review a plaintiff's claim. An insured person also might try to use this doctrine when an insurance company states an arguably rational reason for denying the claim, or the insurer relies on an ambiguity in the policy as the reason to deny the claim.
Unlike normal cases, abnormal cases of bad faith in Alabama do not require the plaintiff to get a pre-verdict judgment as a matter of law on a breach of insurance contract claim.
An abnormal case is likely to arise, for example, where there is a massive disaster that creates widespread devastation and results in the insurer's improper handling of some of the claims. The insurance company must quickly handle claims and also deal with whether the damage in the insured person’s claim was covered. It may be tempted to cut corners in these situations.
The insurer must "marshal all facts" to make a rational determination on a claim. Its failure to investigate reasonable causes of loss to determine coverage can result in a successful bad faith lawsuit. However, even in failure to investigate cases, a plaintiff must prove ultimately that the insurer's decision was incorrect. If you are in this situation and subject to Alabama law, or are involved in an insurance dispute in Florida, consulting a knowledgeable attorney is an important step in seeking the coverage you may be entitled to.
Enlist Attorneys to Hold an Insurer Accountable in Alabama or Florida
Regardless of the kind of loss you have suffered, an insurer's failure to adequately investigate your case or failure to pay a claim can leave you with significant stress and economic hardship. At Milam & Milam, our lawyers can offer insurance coverage advocacy in Alabama or Florida. We have 25 combined years of experience helping protect the rights of individual and business clients. Our firm is located in Fairhope, Alabama on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. Contact us by calling 251-928-0191 or by filling out our contact form online. Our clients come from Pensacola, Birmingham, Montgomery, and other cities throughout the Gulf Coast region.