Where an insurance bad faith lawsuit is filed does make a difference.
Each state’s courts have made determinations regarding what constitutes insurance bad faith, and what kind of damages are recoverable in an insurance bad faith action.

For example, different states impose different burdens on insurance companies regarding their duty to defend.

Insurance carriers owe a duty to defend an insured when their insured is sued, and there is a liability policy providing coverage for the lawsuit.  Different states impose different burdens in determining that defense obligation, however.

In California, once an insured has established potential liability based on the facts alleged in the Complaint, or extrinsic facts of which the insurance carrier is aware, the insurer owes an immediate obligation to defend unless the insurance carrier can conclusively refute the potential for the duty to defend.

Other states limit the analysis to allegations asserted in the Complaint against the insured (“four corner states,” meaning, the four corners of the papers on which the Complaint is written control).

Recovering Damages in California Insurance Lawsuits

Damages are also an area where different states have different guidelines. (See Recovering Damages for information on recovering damages in insurance lawsuits in California.)

In California insurance lawsuits, attorneys’ fees may be recoverable where an insurance company has acted unreasonably in its claim handling.  Punitive damages may be recoverable, in California insurance lawsuits, where an insurance company has, for example, acted with conscious disregard of its insureds’ rights, and has engaged in despicable conduct.  Other states do not expressly recognize an insureds’ right to recover attorneys’ fees or punitive damages in a generic bad faith lawsuit.

California Insurance Contracts

An insurance contract is not a typical contract between parties of equal bargaining strength.  Ordinarily, the insured is at a disadvantage compared to the insurance company, and ordinarily must accept the insurance contract on the terms the insurance carrier offers.  As such, insurers are subject to tort liability for breach of the implied covenant – precisely because of the special relationship between an insured and the insurance carrier, and the insured’s dependence on the carrier’s good will as created by an insurance contract.

The courts in the State of California have created, by judicially derived decisional law, consumer friendly laws regarding the tort of bad faith insurance.  In years past, too, the California Department of Insurance strove to be helpful to California insureds.

Importantly, and despite many politicians’ fear tactics that frivolous bad faith lawsuits harm this state, most California bad faith insurance lawyers who file cases on a contingency fee basis will not file an insurance lawsuit that has no merit.  Logic demonstrates that – even in the State of California – there is no benefit to lawyers, who front bad faith litigation costs, and who do not recover for their own efforts unless they prevail, to file a bad faith insurance lawsuit that lacks merit.

Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers

As Los Angeles attorneys who handle bad faith insurance lawsuits in California, Viau & Kwasniewski have litigated all types of cases on behalf of individuals and small businesses (the insured) including, but not limited to:

  • Insurance bad faith
  • Breach of insurance contract
  • Breach of the implied covenant of good faith & fair dealing
  • Insurance fraud

To increase the likelihood of a successful result for the insured, our insurance bad faith attorneys aggressively litigate and prosecute insurance bad faith cases through trial and appeal. We provide legal advice and representation in California insurance lawsuits addressing insurance issues arising out of a wide variety of claims, including:

  • Property loss
  • Homeowner disputes
  • Automobile
  • Theft
  • Disability
  • Commercial general liability
  • Refusal to settle
  • Motor Truck Cargo Claims
  • Health insurance
  • Delayed or denied payment of a claim
  • Refusal to defend
  • Business Liability

Insurance lawsuits that we handle primarily involve insurance disputes in California against insurance companies and HMO’s who wrongfully deny or delay policy benefits and act in “bad faith“.

Viau & Kwasniewski bad faith attorneys have worked on and understand both sides. Let us handle your California insurance lawsuit.

Call our Los Angeles insurance lawyers at (213) 842-8164,
contact us by email at gkk@vklawyers.com, or complete our online Contact Us Form if you have been victimized by insurance company or HMO abuse.

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