Insurance companies can mishandle any type of claim, including those filed by the policyholder and those filed by someone damaged by the policyholder. Some examples of claims we handle include:
Every insurance company must deal with two competing interests. First, insurers must follow the terms of their policies and state insurance laws that require them to investigate all claims and pay those that are valid. Texas has adopted a version of the Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act that tells insurers what they must do to meet their duties of good faith and fair dealing.
At the same time, insurers do not make a profit by paying claims. They make a profit by collecting premiums and investing the money. When they deny claims, they have more money to invest.
Most of the time, insurers uphold their duties and handle the claims process in good faith. But occasionally, they deny claims simply to avoid paying insurance benefits. They may use tactics like unreasonably denying coverage, refusing to negotiate, or delaying their communications with the claimant to increase the pressure on them to settle for an amount well below their losses.
When insurers use bad-faith tactics when dealing with claims, they become liable to the claimant.
Bad faith insurance lawsuits do more than force insurers to pay valid claims. When an insurance company acts in bad faith, it becomes liable to the claimant. For example, suppose that a tornado hits your house. The insurer is liable to you based on the insurance policy and its duties under Texas insurance laws.
When an insurer refuses to investigate and pay your valid claim, it becomes liable to you for its actions in a bad faith lawsuit. If the lawsuit is successful, you will get paid for the losses caused by the tornado and the losses caused by the insurance company. The insurance company exposes itself to paying you much more due to its bad-faith tactics.
The nature of your bad faith claim will depend on your relationship with the insurance company.
First-party claims happen when you are the policyholder and the claimant. For example, suppose that you buy a homeowner's policy and suffer wind damage in a tornado. If the insurer refuses to investigate the claim fairly, you have a first-party claim based on a breach of the insurance policy and bad faith handling of your claim.
Third-party claims happen when you are not the policyholder but simply a claimant. This typically happens when the insurer issues a liability claim to someone who injured you. For example, a malpractice insurance company might improperly handle your claim against a doctor. Texas does not recognize third-party bad faith claims.
Insurers use many bad-faith tactics during the claims process:
Remember, a bad faith insurer wants to frustrate you into dropping your claim or accepting a subpar settlement. These are just some of the tactics insurers can use. Other actions that breach your policy or violate the insurer's legal duties might rise to the level of bad-faith tactics.
If you feel you are being treated unfairly, document your interactions with the insurer and talk to a lawyer. Many insurers know to walk up to the bad faith line without crossing it.
The bad faith insurance attorneys at Omar Ochoa Law Firm will review your claim to make sure your insurer plays by the rules. Reach out for a free consultation.
If the insurance company improperly denied a valid claim, a court can order the insurer to pay the value of your claim. But the insurer has also damaged you through its actions. Some losses you may have incurred due to the insurance company's bad faith include:
You may also pursue punitive damages if the insurance company acted so outrageously that the court feels the need to punish the insurer's behavior. These damages could be substantial because they are meant to deter the insurer from engaging in bad-faith tactics in the future.
An insurance company can act in bad faith even if you end up losing your claim. This is because the insurer's actions could harm you beyond the value of the claim.
Dealing with bad faith claims requires a two-pronged approach. First, we try to get the insurer to pay the claim. We will:
Second, we gather evidence of the insurer's behavior and tactics. Bad faith claims are not easy to prove. The best evidence of the insurer's tactics and motives will be recorded in internal memos and emails. We can pursue this evidence during discovery in a lawsuit. In the meantime, we will:
Our goals will be to either get your claim paid fairly or document the insurer's actions in preparation for litigation.
We charge a contingency fee for handling bad faith insurance claims. This means you only pay after we win or settle your claim against the insurer. If we do not win, you owe us no legal fees.
There’s no one-size-fits all solution. Every client is individual and we tailor our services for their specific needs.
We have a proven track record of successful case results.
We are always reachable and responsive.
It’s simple: if we don’t win, you don’t pay.
Members of our team are fluent in Spanish and ready to serve clients in their preferred language.
Want to hear more about how we help and what we do? Don’t just take our word for it. Read our real client reviews and testimonials - and see videos from our real former clients.
Mr. Ochoa was able to help us after a hurricane get us more for our property damage. Also great friendly staff was able to answer all questions!!!
First time getting a lawyer for an accident, Omar Ochoa Lw firm was very helpful in providing clear instructions and information to help me battle my motor vehicle case. I would highly recommend.
I am highly recommending Omar Ochoa law firm. We had damage to our roof and were not satisfied with our insurance. Got recommended to Mr Ochoa he really did all he Could to help us get enough to repair our roof. Staff are also very friendly and helpful. This currently helps to feel welcome. Again I highly recommend if you are looking for help with roof repair and you were not satisfied with your insurance reimbursement
We handle insurance litigation across Texas, including but not limited to Dallas, Austin, Brownsville, Cameron County, and Hidalgo County. Our experienced litigation team also represents clients in the following areas:
Call us at (956) 253-3121 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation with our insurance bad faith lawyers.
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Insurers have a duty under Texas law to defend their policyholders against third-party claims. When they fail to deal with third-party claims fairly and in good faith, they expose policyholders to liability lawsuits.
The Stowers doctrine imposes liability on insurers for their handling of third-party claims. A Stowers demand is a settlement offer from the third-party claimant that falls within the policy limits and represents a reasonable offer.
If an insurer rejects a Stowers demand from a third-party claimant and the claimant wins a judgment against the policyholder at trial, the insurer must pay the entire judgment even if it is more than the demand or the policy limits.
To take a simple example, suppose that you have an auto insurance policy with a $30,000 policy limit. You hit a pedestrian, who offers to settle for $25,000. Your insurer refuses the settlement, and the pedestrian wins a jury award of $40,000. The insurer is on the hook for $40,000 even though you only had $30,000 in insurance because the insurer refused the pedestrian's Stowers demand.
Texas sets a statute of limitations for filing a bad faith insurance lawsuit of two years from the date of the first bad faith act. It’s difficult to determine the exact date, so contact our attorney sooner rather than later. If you miss the deadline, your case will be dismissed.
If an insurer has unfairly handled your claim, you and your lawyer need to gather evidence of the ill-treatment. Proving bad faith is not easy. Your lawyer will document all correspondence with the insurer and assess the reasonableness of the insurer's actions.
Once you have documented potentially abusive tactics, you have two ways to pressure the insurer:
The Texas Department of Insurance has limited powers to investigate violations of Texas insurance laws and regulations. If it finds a violation, it can sanction the insurer.
But an investigation might not get you what you want. It will take time, and at best, the department might order the insurer to take a second look at your claim.
A lawsuit, however, can result in a monetary award and a court order forcing the insurer to pay your claim.
Some types of insurance policies cannot be the subject of a bad faith claim. Insurance policies provided by your employer are governed by federal ERISA law rather than Texas law. Examples of these insurance policies include employer-based:
Since these policies fall under ERISA, you may have limited rights to pursue a bad faith claim against the insurers. Instead, you will need to rely on the insurer's duties outlined in the policy and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. You can speak to an experienced insurance lawyer to determine whether you can use these rights to obtain relief against the insurer.