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When Insurance Companies Cheat You: Understanding the “Bad Faith” Claim


Let’s say you were in a car accident. You end up in the hospital, because the force of the accident was enough to sever your spinal column, and now the chances are high that you will never walk again. It’s a horrific scenario, we know – but auto accidents leave some Oklahomans with devastating injuries like these every year, so it’s not a far-fetched idea.

You put in a claim with the insurance company, which comes back and says they will pay you $100,000. You know (and your family knows) that this amount won’t even come close to covering your medical expenses, let alone any of the lost wages, rehabilitative treatments or for the pain and suffering you have endured. Is the insurance company acting in bad faith?

The short answer is, it depends. Because this example uses such a catastrophic injury, it is easy to want to say “yes” immediately, even without knowing the rest of the circumstances. But just because the insurer has a different idea than you do about your injury is worth doesn’t automatically mean the claims adjuster is acting in bad faith. And that is where our auto accident attorneys come in.

Determining bad faith from bad luck

The first thing we do is review your insurance policy and your medical records, along with a record of the accident. Because we’ve been doing this so long, we can tell pretty quickly whether or not the claims adjuster is willfully ignoring your claim or purposely offering such a substantially low amount – in other words, whether or not the adjuster is acting in “bad faith.” The consumer advocacy group Fight Bad Faith Insurance Companies, or FBFIC, offers some other examples of bad faith on behalf of the insurer, such as:

  • Purposely misinterpreting your policy in order to deny a claim
  • Failing to perform the necessary investigation into the accident, and then basing the amount offered on incomplete facts and documentation
  • Altering your policy without your notice, and then attempting to negotiate from the new policy
  • Willfully withholding information that would be to your benefit, to avoid paying the claim or to ensure that a substantially lower amount would be paid out
  • Engaging in illegal or fraudulent activities
  • Attempting to force you into less expensive medical treatments by claiming you are not covered for other procedures, even when you are
  • Trying to force your case to take longer by taking advantage of judicial “loopholes”

In the end, what seems like an unfair or unjust settlement amount is not always an act of bad faith. That is why it is crucial that you leave the negotiations up to a skilled auto accident attorney. Not only do we know what to look for, but because we have so much experience fighting bad faith claims, insurance companies as less likely to try to pull the wool over our eyes.

If you were seriously injured in an auto accident in Southeast Oklahoma, you want a lawyer on your side who knows how to fight for what you deserve. Stipe Law Firm has represented car accident victims – people just like you – throughout the region for the last 60 years. Please contact us to set up an appointment. From our office in McAlester, we proudly serve clients throughout the eastern region of Oklahoma.