Louisiana Appellate Court Upholds Bad-Faith Judgment Against Insurance Company That Denied Underinsured Motorist Claim

When it comes to being involved in an auto accident, recuperating from your injuries is only one of the many challenges that you may have to overcome. Even when fault is clearly established, it can take months or even years to obtain the compensation that you need and deserve from a careless driver and his or her insurance company. Although insurers are meant to provide coverage and protection, they often engage in delay, gamesmanship, and outright evasion when it comes time to pay a claim for damages. Retaining a seasoned Louisiana car accident lawyer from the beginning can help you recover the damages that you deserve in a timely and efficient fashion.

In a recent lawsuit, a husband and wife were driving when they were involved in a collision with another vehicle that was attempting to change lanes at the time the crash occurred. The wife suffered serious injuries to her neck, hip, and back that required substantial medical treatment, including orthopedic surgery. The doctor concluded that the woman incurred a labral tear in her hip.

The husband and wife eventually entered into a settlement agreement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, which agreed to pay the policy limit of $25,000. Since the woman had sustained damages that far exceeded this amount, she filed a personal injury claim with her auto insurance company, claiming benefits based on her underinsured motorist (UM) coverage policy. This policy had a limit of $30,000, but her insurance company did not agree to pay the benefits.

The couple filed a lawsuit against their insurance company, and among the claims they alleged, they included a claim for bad faith. To support their claim, the couple offered evidence demonstrating that the woman had suffered damages that exceeded $55,000, meaning the insurer did not have a good-faith basis for declining to provide the policy coverage. The trial court agreed, awarding the couple the policy limits in addition to damages sustained as a result of the delay and attorneys’ fees.

The insurance company filed an appeal, which they ultimately lost. According to Louisiana law, an insurance company is required to pay legitimate claims in a timely fashion. If the insurer receives a “satisfactory proof of loss” but fails to pay the claim, the court is entitled to award the insured damages and attorneys’ fees. To meet this standard, the insured has to prove that the at-fault driver did not have insurance or had insufficient insurance, that the driver was at fault, that the accident caused the insured to sustain injuries, and the extent of the injuries suffered. The appellate court ruled that the plaintiffs had met this burden by sending a copy of the police report prepared regarding the accident, as well as a settlement check from the at-fault driver, medical bills, and more.

If you have been injured in a car accident, retain a compassionate and reliable personal injury lawyer to assist you with the complex and often stressful process of recovering the legal compensation that you deserve. At Dué Guidry Piedrahita Andrews Courrege L.C., our experienced and dependable car crash lawyers have provided legal counsel to accident victims and their families throughout Louisiana. We offer a free consultation to help you understand your legal rights, and we can potentially help you recover the compensation that you deserve. Call us now at (225) 929-7481 or contact us online to get started.

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