Skilled Bad Faith Insurance Attorneys Serving All Of Washington
The state of Washington is the biggest producer of apples in the United States; according to data from the Northwest Horticultural Council, the state is responsible for over 90% of the national apple crop. The state is also known for its vibrant music scene, its national parks, and its status as a hub for tech and innovation.
Sadly, disability is as much of a problem in Washington as anywhere else. A Washington Insurance Bad Faith Attorney can help you if you’ve developed a disabling condition but can’t settle your disability insurance claim due to wrongful or unreasonable conduct by your disability insurance company.
In this post, we break down everything you need to know about bad faith conduct in long-term disability insurance, and whether you might have to file a legal challenge to secure all your insurance benefits.
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
In insurance, and in legitimate business generally, both sellers and buyers accept an “implied duty of good faith and fair dealing” when entering into a contract. Should either party fail to perform this duty, they may be held liable to compensate the other party.
So, if your insurance company fails to act in accordance with its legal and contractual obligations after you file a long-term disability insurance claim, you’re entitled to seek a legal remedy to the situation through the court system.
Common Examples of Bad Faith Practices by Long-Term Disability Insurance Companies in Washington
Some of the most common examples of bad faith conduct by long-term disability insurance companies include:
- Unlawfully denying valid claims: Disability insurers may not deny a valid claim for benefits without providing a clear and reasonable explanation, or without conducting a thorough investigation of the claim.
- Unreasonably delaying monthly benefits payments: Insurers may not reasonably delay or deny payment of benefits, causing financial hardship for the policyholder.
- Refusing to investigate claims promptly and effectively: Insurers have an obligation to investigate claims in a timely and thorough manner. If they fail to do so, they may be acting in bad faith.
- Failing to communicate properly: Insurers have an obligation to communicate with the policyholder and keep them informed of the status of their claim. If they refuse to communicate clearly or provide information, they may be acting in bad faith.
- Using dishonest or unfair tactics to deny a claim: Insurers may not use dishonest or unfair tactics, such as misrepresenting policy terms, in order to deny a valid claim.
- Failing to provide a clear explanation of policy terms: Insurers have an obligation to provide policyholders with a clear explanation of policy terms and requirements. If they fail to do so, they may be acting in bad faith.
What You Need to Succeed in a Long-Term Disability Insurance Claim
Before you can submit a claim for long-term disability insurance benefits, there are a few requirements you’ll need to satisfy.
Firstly, you must visit your physician and have them treat, evaluate and hopefully diagnose your condition, as well as confirm that it rises to the level of a disability (as defined by your insurance policy). Your doctor must also administer the most suitable course of treatment for your disabling condition.
The question of whether you qualify as disabled depends on your physical, mental, and cognitive ability to continue working, rather than the severity of your condition or your symptoms. If your disability prevents you from doing any work for which you are trained, educated, or otherwise suited, you should be viewed as disabled by your insurer. Additionally, if you have “own occupation” language in your policy, you’ll be treated as disabled once you can no longer work in the position you had prior to your disability, even if you’re capable of working in another role.
You must also wait for the elimination period (also known as a waiting period) on your policy to elapse before you can file a claim receive benefits. These periods vary widely from one policy to the next; you should consult your own policy document to see how long the wait will be in your case.
Recoverable Damages in an Insurance Bad Faith Case
When you file a lawsuit against a long-term disability insurer, you must r first priority is to recover any monthly benefits you should have received up to the time of your lawsuit, along with a guarantee of and seek future payments. However, there may be other additional damages available to you as well.
For instance, a court might award general damages (also known as pain and suffering damages) to compensate you for any emotional distress you suffered after having your claim unreasonably denied and being forced to pursue legal action. Additionally, you could be entitled to recover travel costs or other out-of-pocket attorney fees and expenses you incurred as a result of having to undertake a legal challenge against your insurer.
Punitive damages, which are designed to punish defendants for their bad faith practices, are available in bad faith insurance cases in many states, but not in Washington. The Evergreen State is one of just four in the US that does not award punitive damages in personal injury cases.
The Role of Medical Evidence in Long-Term Disability Insurance Claims
As noted aboveRemember, your physician must confirm you are disabled in order for you to start receiving monthly disability benefits. However, if there is some dispute over your claim, it may be necessary to rely on additional medical evidence to make your case. For instance, your lawyer may decide to bring in a medical expert witness to provide an independent evaluation of your disability for the benefit of your case.
As well as medical evidence, you may also need occupational evidence that illustrates the impact your disabling condition has had on your ability to work.
Working With a Washington Insurance Bad Faith Attorney Who Will Fight for Your Rights
The development of a disability is among the most devastating things that can happen to an individual. You shouldn’t have to deal with financial ruin because of the wrongful or unreasonable conduct of your disability insurer at the same time.
Contact DarrasLaw today to schedule a free initial consultation with an award-winning Washington Insurance Bad Faith Attorney. We’ll provide a free initial review of your policy or claim as part of your first appointment with us.