BAD FAITH LITIGATION
A buzzword for plaintiffs’ attorneys, the number of bad faith claims has skyrocketed over the past few years. Often, plaintiffs’ claims amount to little more than “fishing expeditions,” yet defending these claims can be very expensive and document intensive, with the slightest nuance in a claims adjuster’s notes being magnified in importance. In some instances, a “bad faith” claim really means an alleged lack of “good faith” on the part of the insurance carrier. Other claims, however, fall within statutory provisions, such as Pennsylvania’s Section 8371 of the Insurance Code, which contains its own definitions and set of remedies and damages, including the awarding of attorney’s fees.
From the plaintiff’s standpoint, few things can provide as much leverage against an insurer in a first-party claim as inclusion of a bad faith allegation. Bad faith claims take on a life of their own and, as such, must be handled differently from their inception. Indeed, in a bad faith claim, the most innocuous transgression in a claims note or deposition has the potential to take on a make-or-break significance for the defense of a bad faith claim.
Our attorneys in the bad faith practice group are extremely experienced in the handling of all forms of bad faith claims, including bad faith claims arising from first-party uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, bad faith claims arising from first-party PIP coverage, bad faith claims arising from the alleged failure to properly defend and indemnify an insured, and third-party excess verdict bad faith cases. We have handled bad faith cases under all types of insurance policies, such as automobile, commercial liability, and homeowner policies.
From day one, our attorneys will perform comprehensive analyses of every aspect of the claim and its handling, the case will be assessed for any potential motions to dismiss and, critically, the possibility of a severance and stay for the bad faith claims, thereby avoiding the possibility that plaintiff can use a baseless bad faith claim to leverage an undeserved payment on the underlying insurance claim. Finally, if all else fails, we are always ready, willing, and able to vigorously defend each aspect of a bad faith claim, including the extensive discovery motion practice, depositions and expert consultation that forms the basis of a successful bad faith defense. When punitive damages, counsel fees, and perhaps most importantly, the clients name and reputation, are on the line, having a firm with our diligence, tenacity, and experience can make all the difference in a bad faith case.