Insurance is an important part of resolving any case. This is particularly true in the fields of trucking accidents, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and professional malpractice. At our firm, we know insurance. We have represented insurance companies and insureds in coverage disputes. A coverage dispute is when the insurer, claimant, or insured disagree on whether or not a particular accident or claim is covered by the terms of the insurance policy. It’s an important decision because it can impact whether or not there is insurance money to pay the claim.
There is a related field of insurance bad faith. Insurance bad faith occurs when an insurance company fails to settle or defend a claim which is actually covered by the policy and could be resolved, but for their insurer’s failure. There are statutes and case law that inform when something is “bad faith.” In some cases, if an insurer acts improperly, the insurer can be on the hook for the full value of the underlying claim (even if it exceeds the limits of the policy) plus punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Millions of dollars can easily be at stake. We have handled insurance bad faith cases for both insurers and insureds. We know how to get the job done.
What is an insurance coverage attorney?
A Georgia insurance coverage attorney is a lawyer that specializes in reviewing insurance policies and litigating over what they mean. An insurance policy is a contract, just like any other one. Under the policy, the insurer agrees to provide coverage for certain types of claims. The insured agrees to pay a premium in exchange for that coverage. But, what those terms mean when presented with specific facts can be tricky.
If you have ever read an insurance policy, you know that there are many terms. These include grants of coverage (for example, “We will defend any claim against you for bodily injury using a motor vehicle”). There are also exclusions (for example, “This policy does not cover any claim for an intentional act.”). There are endorsements, which are provisions that change either grants or exclusions of coverage.
Making sense of the policy language takes expertise. We have decades of experience reviewing, understanding, and arguing over policy terms. We can help you understand and present the best argument under the insurance policy and the applicable law. We are solid Atlanta insurance coverage lawyers.
What is insurance bad faith?
There are many rules that are unique to the field of insurance. One of the most frequently disputed issues is whether an insurer has acted in “bad faith.” There are a number of case opinions and statutes that form the basis of a bad faith action in Georgia.
Perhaps the most commonly cited rule in Georgia is a “Holt Demand.” A Holt demand is based on the case Southern General Insurance Company v. Holt. In Holt, Southern General’s insured collided with another vehicle and there was clear liability. The injured person made a demand for the full policy limits which was open for a limited period of time. Along with the demand, the injured person submitted medical bills and lost wages which totaled over the policy limits. Southern General failed to respond to the offer within the time frame.
When the insured was later sued and had a judgment entered against her for an amount that exceeded the policy limits, the insured alleged that Southern General was negligent in failing to settle. This is also called “bad faith.” The Georgia Supreme Court agreed and held that an insurer is responsible for the full judgment against their insured, if they fail to act reasonably in resolving a case within the policy limits.
Since Holt, there are many cases that explain and modify the principles in Holt. There is even a statute that requires certain information be included in a Holt demand for automobile accident claims pre-suit. This is a confusing area of law, and each case requires an examination by a Georgia insurance bad faith lawyer to determine which rules are applicable.
There are many other “bad faith” statutes that may be applicable to other insurance claims. For example, there is a statute specific to uninsured motorist claims and property damage claims, to name a couple.
This is a field where it is important to have a seasoned Atlanta insurance coverage attorney review your case to determine if you have a claim. It is very difficult for a lay person, or even an attorney without insurance coverage experience, to navigate this area of the law.
What areas do we serve?
We practice throughout the State of Georgia. We have litigated insurance coverage issues in Georgia State Courts including in Lawerenceville (Gwinnett County), Atlanta (Fulton County), Marietta (Cobb County), Decatur (DeKalb County), and Savannah (Chatham County). However, often our insurance coverage disputes are in Federal Court. We have practiced in every federal court in the state. This includes the Northern District of Georgia which has courts in Atlanta, Gainesville, Newnan, and Rome. We also have litigated insurance coverage issues in the Middle District of Georgia which has courts in Macon, Albany, Valdosta, Athens, and Columbus. We have litigated insurance coverage disputes in the Southern District of Georgia which has courts in Augusta, Brunswick, Dublin, Savannah, Waycross, and Statesboro.
Here are some example case results:
- For cases we defend, we have resolved all either through settlement or at trial for the amount of our valuation or less.
- In plaintiff cases, we have multiple multi-million dollar recoveries.