When you suffer a car accident in Orange County, your first recourse is to seek compensation from an insurance company. If you caused the crash, you may need to file the claim with your insurer. If another at-fault driver was responsible, the claim will be filed with the other driver’s insurer. In all events, your car accident claim will be covered under California’s Fair Claims Act. An Orange County car accident attorney can help you meet the requirements laid out in this Act for the claimants.
However, the primary purpose of this Act is to ensure that insurance companies act in good faith. In other words, the insurer is obliged to honor a fair claim for damages and provide fair compensation against it. The insurer must also meet a range of other Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations. Here is a look at how the Fair Claims Act applies to car accident claims in Orange County.
California Fair Claims Act
The California Fair Claims Act standards are contained in the California Code of Regulations Title 10, Chapter 5, Subchapter 7.5, Article 1, Section 2695.1 to Section 2695.17. As per these regulations:
- An insurance company must properly and thoroughly inform you about all the provisions of your insurance policy. This applies to auto insurance policies as well.
- The information from the insurer must tell you about the benefits, time limits, coverage limits, and other details of the policy you have purchased.
- Once you issue a notice of claim, which is a written or oral notice of the intent to file a claim, the insurance company must respond immediately. Such a response may constitute acknowledging that a claim has been received, initiating an investigation of the claim, and sharing the requisite forms to be filled with the claimant.
- The insurance company must respond to the notice of claim no later than 15 days.
- Once you share the proof of claim, which is essentially the evidence that supports your insurance claim, the insurer must accept or deny the claim within 40 days. For car crash claims, the proof may include photos and videos from the crash scene, medical records of your crash-related injury, and other pieces of evidence.
- The insurer must offer a fair settlement in proportion to the losses you have suffered in the car accident, and as per the auto insurance policy limits.
- After a suitable settlement amount is agreed upon, the insurer is obliged to pay up this amount as soon as possible. In any event, the claim must be settled no later than 30 days from the settlement date.
Insurance Bad Faith Lawsuits
In case an auto insurance company fails to meet the requirements and regulations outlined in the Fair Claims Act, it will be held in violation of the law. In such an event, you are entitled to file a Bad Faith lawsuit against the company. Such a lawsuit can be filed when:
- The insurer fails to respond to the claimant in a timely way.
- The insurer does not disclose policy limits and other important information related to the auto insurance policy.
- The insurer turns down your claim without a fair investigation or a valid reason.
- The insurer does not explain the denial of your claim.
- You are offered an exceptionally low settlement offer that doesn’t suitably cover your losses.
- The insurer refuses to enter into settlement negotiations with you.
- The insurer does not respond or settle a claim within the stipulated time.
If you face such bad faith practices from an insurer, you can file a bad faith lawsuit. If your claims against the insurer prove true, your settlement amount may be several times the actual amount you were owed for your claim. This is one reason why insurance companies may want to avoid bad faith practices.
Hire an Orange County Car Accident Attorney
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. This means that they will try to avoid paying a claimant when and where they can. If you file a claim without legal help, the insurer may take advantage of you and pay you little or no money, citing unfounded objections. With a lawyer by your side, you can effectively counter any such objections.
Here at the Crockett Law Group, we protect your rights as an auto insurance policyholder. We negotiate with the insurer on your behalf to make sure you seek a fair amount of damages and get them. Reach out to us today to discuss your Orange County crash claim with our lawyers.