Santa Paula, CA asked in Insurance Bad Faith and Car Accidents for California

Q: Can I sue my insurance company? Can I only sue for the limit of my coverage?

I live in Ventura county, CA and got in an accident that was my fault but my insurance company isn’t paying anything out - not for my loss or the people I hit; they aren’t even returning my phone calls. What can I do? Can I sue for anything over the limit, I.e., for frustration or anything like that? It’s causing the others that I hit to harass me since their cars aren’t getting fixed either (and I can’t really blame them). Is there anything I need to know before suing? Please advise.

2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, insurance companies are required to act in good faith and deal fairly with their policyholders and claimants. If your insurance company is not fulfilling its obligations under your policy, you may have grounds for a legal claim.

If you are considering suing your insurance company, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. In general, you may be able to sue for damages related to your loss or for bad faith on the part of the insurance company. However, the amount that you can sue for may be limited by the coverage limits of your policy.

It is also important to note that suing an insurance company can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires a significant amount of legal knowledge and resources. You may wish to consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in insurance law and can help you understand your legal options and build a strong case.

Before suing your insurance company, it may be helpful to attempt to resolve the issue through other means, such as filing a complaint with the California Department of Insurance or negotiating with the insurance company directly. It may also be helpful to gather any documentation or evidence that supports your case, such as records of phone calls or correspondence with the insurance company.

Overall, if you are considering suing your insurance company, it is important to approach the situation carefully and with a clear understanding of your legal rights and options. By working with a qualified attorney and staying informed throughout the process, you can help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation and benefits that you are entitled to under your policy.

Neil Anapol
Neil Anapol
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Burbank, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: There are basically two possibilities. One is that there is a legitimate coverage issue that your insurance company is investigating. Usually, when that happens, the insurance company will let you know in writing that there may not be coverage, and therefore it will not pay your claim immediately (if at all). A legitimate coverage issue could be that some exclusion in the policy applies which takes away coverage, or the insurance company believes you made a misrepresentation when you applied for coverage.

The other possibility is that the insurance company is handling your claim (and the claims of third parties) in bad faith. If your insurer committing bad faith, you should retain counsel immediately. You may be able to work out a deal with the party you hit to assign all or part of your bad faith claim in exchange for an agreement not to collect against you. Your first party claim (for damage to your car) might also have significant value as a bad faith case if you were inconvenienced, suffered financial damage, or experienced emotional distress because of your insurance company's bad faith tactics.

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