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What to Do When Your Car Insurance Company Won’t Pay a Claim

When you sign your insurance policy, you have a contract with the company which they pledge to honor. There is a covenant created, whereby the company promises to settle all claims in good faith. When your insurance company refuses to settle a reasonable claim — or settle a claim reasonably — you may allege bad faith, a legal violation that exposes the company to additional liability. As a policy holder, you can sue for bad faith as a common law tort or as a violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

In a bad faith claim, the policy holder must prove an act or omission that constitutes a deceptive or unfair business practice. At common law, these include:

  • Failure to conduct a reasonable claims investigation
  • Failure to negotiate in good faith
  • Failure to settle within policy limits
  • Failure to defend
  • Wrongful denial of coverage

If the policy holder proves bad faith, the company must pay damages, including:

  • Consequential damages — Compensation for harm the bad faith caused the policy holder, such as emotional distress.
  • Coverage by estoppel — A finding of bad faith prevents the company from denying coverage. The claim must be paid.
  • Costs and attorney’s fees — If bad faith compels the policy holder to litigate the case, the insurance company must pay the policy holder’s legal fees.

The WCPA expands on common law by going into greater detail regarding misrepresentation and unfair dealing. WCPA allows for actual economic damages of up to $10,000, attorney’s fees, fines and penalties, and cease and desist orders, and can even result in the revocation of the insurance company’s license.

If you’re having trouble with your insurance company, you should consider retaining legal representation. Our firm has a long record of success in bad faith litigation. For a free consultation, call Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. today at 253.250.4516 or contact our office online.

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  • "Client was disabled from working in prior profession after sustaining a severe closed head injury and brain trauma in an automobile accident on Interstate 5. $7,845,000. "

  • "Pedestrian client was struck by semi-truck, and the trailer wheels rolled over client’s body causing severe injury. $1,145,000. "

  • "Client was involved in a head-on collision when a bus crossed the center line. Client suffered a severe closed head injury preventing him from returning to his previous employment. $884,998. "

  • "Client was involved in serious head-on collision with uninsured motorist while on-the-job, resulting in physical injury and posttraumatic stress disorder. Client can no longer work as a commercial truck driver. $708,000. "

  • "Client was a rear seat passenger in a vehicle that was involved in an automobile accident. Client was severely injured as the result of a defective seatbelt, while the other three occupants of the vehicle sustained only minor injuries. $650,000. "

  • "Client was killed in automobile accident caused by defendant’s failure to yield the right-of-way. $650,000. "

  • "Minor client was on his way to school and was struck by a vehicle while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk. Defendant driver had pulled into oncoming lane to pass another vehicle and struck client, causing serious injuries. $500,000. "

  • "Client was killed as a result of an in-cab fuel tank, which caught fire after an automobile accident. $350,000. "

  • "Client riding a bicycle was struck by a motorist who failed to yield the right-of-way. Client sustained numerous injuries, including a closed head injury. $120,000. "

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  • "“I have been a client of Dan Kyler’s since 1996. Having had numerous car accidents, I rely upon Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler to help me through them. The most obscure questions have been answered and help is given on all levels. Thanks.”"

  • "“John Wilson demonstrated his professionalism by keeping us current on our case, explaining our options, giving us realistic expectations and demonstrating the highest level of ethics and integrity beyond reproach. We have the highest confidence that we were well represented.”"

  • "“Dan Hannula’s hard work helped to settle my auto accident case.” "

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