Filing an Insurance Bad Faith Claim in Arizona
Bad faith is any action or omission from an insurance company that does not come from a good faith attempt to resolve the client’s claim. Good faith is an insurer’s legal and ethical responsibility to treat a claim fairly, reasonably, and within the confines of the law. If an insurance company treats your claim in bad faith, it may owe you additional compensation in penalties on top of the payout it owes you based on the terms of the policy. To recover compensation, however, you must file your bad faith claim within Arizona’s statute of limitations.
Legal Terms to Know: Statute of Limitations and Bad Faith
Before you dive into how to file a bad faith insurance claim, understand the definitions of the important legal terms related to your case. First, recognize whether you are the victim of insurance bad faith. If you believe a reasonable and prudent insurance company would have handled your claim differently, leading to a different outcome, the insurer in question may be guilty of bad faith. Some signs of bad faith include:
- Intentionally misrepresenting facts
- Using vague or obscure language
- Misinterpreting a policy’s terms
- Demanding excessive evidence
- Failing to adequately investigate a claim
- Delaying a claim without reason
- Threatening or intimidating you
- Refusing to offer a reasonable settlement
- Denying a claim without valid cause
The other legal term to know is statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a state law that determines how long a claimant has to file a claim. Statutes of limitations exist to push claimants into filing in a timely manner, to keep the justice system fair. Otherwise, a claimant could feasibly wait until important evidence in the defendant’s favor is gone to file. Each state has unique statutes of limitations for different types of cases.
How Long Do You Have to File?
In Arizona, the statute of limitations on bad faith insurance claims is two years, in general. This is the same time limit for personal injury claims in Arizona. The two-year statute of limitations initiates on the day the insurance company commits the bad faith act. If you did not recognize bad faith until after the fact, however, the clock may not start ticking until the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered insurance bad faith. You must meet the statute of limitations to have a valid claim in Arizona. Most courts will dismiss lawsuits filed after the expiration date.
Note that some insurance companies may enforce shorter deadlines for filing bad faith claims within the policy’s language. A company may state that its policyholder must bring a bad faith claim within one year, for example, rather than the state-mandated deadline. Although a judge may rule on a longer deadline for you as a claimant, it can serve your best interest to file within your policy’s limitation agreement. A lawyer can review the fine print of your insurance policy to find out if it has a shorter timeline for filing a bad faith claim.
Contact a Bad Faith Attorney Right Away
Bad faith insurance claims involve many complicated state laws. You must be able to navigate these laws while protecting your right to receive fair compensation for damages in Arizona. A bad faith insurance lawyer can help you with all the laws and regulations involved in your claim. An attorney can review your case, peruse your insurance policy, determine whether bad faith has occurred and help you bring a claim within the deadline. Your lawyer will make sure you do not meet any important time limits along the way.
Contacting a lawyer right away can ensure you do not miss the statute of limitations on an Arizona bad faith insurance claim. An attorney can listen to your story, review your insurance policy, read any letters you have received from the insurer and let you know if what happened meets Arizona’s definition of bad faith. If so, the lawyer can help you collect evidence and file the proper paperwork to bring a bad faith claim in your county before the state or provisional deadline expires.