Not only can you sue your own car insurance company after an accident, but sometimes you are left with no other choice but to do so. Pennsylvania’s complicated auto insurance system can help you recover financial compensation in many circumstances. However, your own insurance company can make things difficult for you.
It might be the only way that you can get the compensation you deserve and hold your own insurance company accountable for failing to honor the terms of their agreement with you.
Our auto accident attorneys in Philadelphia at Gibbons & Crichton, Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers are in your corner when you need to take on your own insurance company or fight for full compensation from the other driver’s insurance company.
How No-Fault Car Accident Insurance Works in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for car accidents. Basically, the first place that you would go to seek financial compensation for your car accident is your own insurance company.
Whether you can also go after the other driver if they were at fault depends on what type of car insurance policy you have:
- If you have limited tort car insurance, you can only sue the other driver if you have suffered a serious injury.
- If you have full tort car insurance, you can sue the other driver for any type of injury if they were at fault.
You always have to deal with your own auto insurance company in Pennsylvania at some point.
Never assume they will have a friendly relationship with you, even though you are their customer. Insurance companies have never been known for treating their customers well in a time of need.
You must negotiate with your own insurance company to obtain your own medical expenses and out-of-pocket costs for the car accident. These costs would include your property damage and lost wages, and anything else that you must spend or lose on account of your car accident injuries.
How and Why You Can Sue Your Own Insurance Company in Pennsylvania
Your own insurance company can be very difficult during the claims process. You may face long delays and an obstinate insurance company that does not want to pay you what you are owed.
You may be forced to take legal action against your own insurance company, either to get the money you are owed or to seek damages from them for their behavior.
Generally, if your insurance company will not adequately compensate you for what you are owed, you can sue them in a breach of contract case.
Your auto insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company. You are required to pay them premiums, and they are obligated to cover your damages, right up to the policy limit. If they do not pay you in full, they are not fulfilling their obligation to you, and you have the right to sue them in state court to force them to pay.
If you do file a breach of contract case against your insurance company, any settlement or verdict would be limited to what you could have recovered under the terms of your contract.
Your insurance company was never obligated to pay you non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. You could only receive those damages if you are able to sue the other driver, either because you have full tort coverage or if you have suffered a serious injury.
Nonetheless, you may have no choice but to take legal action against your own insurance company.
Bad Faith Claims Against Your Insurance Company
There are certain more extreme instances in which you can sue the car insurance company for much more than just paying your damages. Like any business, an insurance company owes you the duty to conduct its business with you. If they act in certain ways, the insurance company itself could be liable to you for its own conduct.
Examples of insurance company bad faith can include:
- Unreasonably delaying paying your claim
- Unreasonably denying your claim
- Asking you for excessive amounts of documentation to prove your claim that are not necessary
- Misrepresenting the provisions of your policy
- Dramatically undervaluing your claim
- Making threats to you or threatening statements
A bad faith claim is you suing the insurance company. They may owe you damages, based on what their illegal conduct has done to you.
Damages in a bad faith lawsuit can include:
- Emotional distress
- Any financial losses that you suffered due to the insurance company’s conduct
- What you are due under the terms of your contract with the insurance company
In addition, a jury may decide that the insurance company must pay punitive damages. These damages are intended to make an example out of the insurance company and send the message that it cannot engage in such conduct in the future. A punitive damages verdict can far outweigh the money that you would receive in actual damages.
You Need a Car Accident Lawyer to Sue the Auto Insurance Company
Even when you are dealing with your own insurance company, you should hire a lawyer.
Insurers respect you far more when they know that there are potential consequences for the misconduct you endured.
Your attorney could present your claim to the insurance company and negotiate your compensation on your behalf. If you have a cause of action against the other driver because they were to blame for the accident, your attorney could also file the claim or lawsuit for you.
Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have been injured in a car accident, you need help from an experienced personal injury attorney in Philadelphia as you seek to navigate the legal system. Otherwise, you could lose out when the insurance company tries to save money at your expense.
The attorneys at Gibbons & Crichton Personal Injury & Accident Lawyers will always fight for you to get every dollar that is on the table after a car accident. We can prepare to litigate your case. You can call us today at 215-274-0173 or send us a message online to schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer.