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How Much is a Bad Faith Claim Worth in Michigan?

WRITTEN BY:
Steven Matz
February 21, 2023 | Car Accident

Imagine you have been in a car accident that was not even your fault, and the insurance company denies your claim. Your personal injury protection should at least cover the total cost of your injuries, including your medical bills, travel to appointments, lost wages, and home care services, among other expenses. The denial seems to come from nowhere, and suddenly you are looking at receiving nothing for the trauma you have been through. You have paid your premiums and have no idea why you are left out in the cold.

Experiencing A Bad Faith Auto Insurance Adjusters?

Auto insurance adjusters have a reputation for offering settlements that do not cover the full costs of their client’s injuries. It is unconscionable that people who were injured through no fault of their own and are operating in good faith have to fight to get fair compensation for their serious injuries.

Matz Injury Law has experience dealing with bad faith tactics by insurance carriers in Michigan. If you are fighting to get the insurance coverage you deserve, our bad-faith insurance lawyers can help you to fight for a full and fair settlement for your injuries.

What is Bad Faith Insurance Law in Michigan?

a man wearing an arm cast looking at his medical bill

Michigan law defines bad faith practices as “arbitrary, reckless, indifferent, or intentional actions or disregard for the interests of a person owed a duty.” It is considered a breach of contract because insurance policies are governed under contract law. A bad faith claim refers to a denied claim that should have been approved, and the insurance company knew it should have.

Do you Need A Lawyer to Fight Bad Faith Auto Insurance Adjusters?

Bad faith laws, however, are difficult to pursue because they are limited in many ways. Bad faith practices by an insurance company mean that insurance adjusters behave dishonestly and contrary to the spirit of the insurance contract. You must prove that the insurance company did not issue a valid denial of coverage. Sometimes, insurance adjusters make mistakes in good faith.

To be considered bad faith insurance practices, you must prove your insurance company placed its interests ahead of yours. Bad faith practices are not restricted to auto insurance. They can also occur in health insurance, homeowners insurance, liability insurance, life insurance, and almost any other form of coverage. Pursuing bad faith claims, however, requires help from an experienced law firm.

Think your insurance company is not engaging in fair dealing with you? That they are deliberately using your policy language against you, or that they are otherwise deliberately denying a claim for unfair reasons? Matz Injury Law may be able to help. Make a phone call to 1-866-22Not33 or fill out our request form for a free consultation and legal advice today.

What Are Some Examples of Bad Faith Insurance Practices?

Once again, bad faith means the insurance company rejects a legitimate claim under your insurance policy. This can happen in many ways. Some common insurance practices that may fall under bad faith by your insurance company and be used as a cause of action for a first-party lawsuit include the following.

Denying Your Insurance Claim Without Reason

The insurance adjuster should always give you a reason if they deny your claim. They are not permitted under the law to simply send a letter that says your claim has been denied. They must give you a genuine reason for the refusal to pay out your claim. If the insurance carrier refuses to provide an explanation to the policyholder for a claim denial, it may open them up to tort litigation for acting in bad faith.

Delaying Your Claim Unreasonably

Insurance should give the policyholder a sensible reason for denying their claim. Sometimes the insurance adjuster may engage in double-talk or use confusing language to mislead you into thinking there is a valid reason for your claim when there is not. They might also simply give you a reason that seems false or wrong.

Halting Your Benefits Without Reason

Much as an insurance carrier is required to give you a reason to deny a claim, they are also required to provide a reason for stopping benefits. They can be held liable in a tort for acting in bad faith if they do not.

Refusing to Pay a Full and Fair Settlement

Insurance adjusters are known for offering scant settlement offers after a disaster. However, they can be held responsible if they refuse to pay a full and fair settlement, even when it comes under your policy limits. Insurance companies are not permitted under the law to avoid paying out valid claims just to increase their profits. Failing to pay claims under Michigan state law is considered unfair trade practices.

Misrepresenting Policy Language

Insurers may sometimes fail to be clear about how policy language works or may use the letter of the language against you when it goes against the clear intent of the contract. For example, you make an honest mistake on a claim submission like transposing the digits on your phone number or home address, or make an error with a date. If the insurance company denies your claim by saying you deliberately submitted inaccurate information, they are misrepresenting the language of your policy.

Threatening You With Legal Action for Filing a Claim

Any threatening statement the insurance company makes goes against its responsibility for fair dealing. If your insurance company threatens you with the cancelation of your policy, or with criminal charges for insurance fraud, or takes any other threatening tactic, you can bring a tort for bad faith acts. You should also, in such a case, call the state insurance board immediately, as well as seeking representation from a qualified injury law firm.

Creating Unreasonable Delays

Insurance companies are not permitted to drag out how long it takes to investigate a claim. Sometimes they do this so that the evidence gets old, and they can claim there is not enough proof. Sometimes they hope the policyholder will give up on the claim. In Michigan, an insurance company has 30 days to specify, in writing, whether the claim is valid and to pay claims. If the accident requires additional proof of loss, they may extend the payout deadline to 60 days, but no longer.

Failing to Defend a Claim

Your insurance company is required to properly investagate every claim before they refuse any offer of settlement within policy limits. If, for example, your claims adjuster speaks with you over the phone, then denies the claim based on pre-existing damage, they failed to consider repair shop estimates and did not examine the damage in person. They have, in such a case, failed to conduct a proper investigation.

What Should I Do Before Filing a Bad Faith Claim in Michigan?

Before you bring a first-party bad faith claim against your insurance company in Michigan, you must first be able to show that you have exhausted the steps to resolve the issue directly with the insurance company. Normally, this requires at least two internal reviews of your case on appeals and a review by an external third party.

None of this means that an attorney was not involved, however. After being involved in a car accident resulting in serious personal injury, many motorists contact a personal injury attorney to deal with the insurance company. Often, allowing an attorney to take over negotiations can reduce the likelihood of needing to file a bad faith claim against insurance providers. Insurers are less likely to attempt bad faith tactics against a lawyer because the lawyer knows how to fight back.

If you can demonstrate that all avenues were exhausted, you may be able to file a claim. If you wish to file a bad faith claim, you must seek help from a qualified Michigan attorney like Matz Injury Law. Call our firm at 1-866-22Not33 or fill out our form online to request a free case review today.

How is Bad Faith Determined in Michigan?

The Michigan Supreme Court set the standards for determining bad faith practices in Commercial Union Insurance Company v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. This landmark ruling stated that if an insurer’s motivations are selfish or place their interests ahead of their insured’s interests, bad faith exists. This could be the case even if the insurer’s actions were neither fraudulent nor dishonest.

This means that to prove bad faith in Michigan, you must be able to demonstrate in court that your insurance company placed its interests ahead of yours and acted accordingly. Often the crux of the bad faith claim is that the insurance company is putting their profits over the services they are bound to provide. Your personal injury attorney in Michigan can help you determine whether your claim is valid and the grounds for a first-party lawsuit against your insurance company.

How Much is a Bad Faith Claim Worth in Michigan

Every injury claim, including a bad faith claim, is unique and individual. Since no two are alike, it is impossible to say up front what yours may be worth. It will depend heavily on the original claim you filed and the damages you can prove from the claim denial or bad-faith actions by the insurance company. You may be able to recover specific types of damages that are common among many different cases.

Attorney Fees

Under Michigan law, you can recover all legal fees from your claim, including court, filing, and attorney’s fees. Other civil cases may deduct the attorney’s fees from your final settlement. However, the final award in a bad-faith insurance claim may be increased to include these expenses. You will receive your entire claim in these cases, plus your attorney’s fees.

Your Settlement

Your final settlement should include all your economic losses from the original accident or personal injury claim. This includes your medical bills, medication, medical procedures, transportation to and from medical appointments, physical therapy costs, in-home care costs, replacement of in-home services, lost wages, loss of potential future earnings, possible loss of retirement income, property damage, and all of the other measurable economic damages you suffer.

Interest

In Michigan, your insurance company must begin paying no-fault benefits within 30 days of receiving reasonable proof that you are entitled to said benefits. You are entitled to penalty interest on any overdue payments if they fail to start paying within this timeframe. With few exceptions, only overdue payments are eligible for this penalty interest.

This particular aspect of your claim is unique in that you may be eligible for interest payments even if you do not file a bad faith claim. An insurance company that takes too long to pay benefits may be required to pay interest even when acting in good faith.

Can I Recover Non-Economic Damages from Bad Faith Claims?

unhappy couple being shown a medical bill by a doctor

The law recognizes that even a good faith denial of auto insurance coverage can cause the claimant much emotional distress. However, Michigan law does not allow you to recover damages for mental or emotional distress based on a breach of an insurance contract.

This unfortunate factor also extends to pain and suffering in general. You may not recover non-economic damages in your bad faith tort. This means that you cannot hold your insurer responsible for your loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of life, emotional trauma, PTSD, or other invisible injuries. You also cannot collect punitive damages in your case.

How Do I File a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

Filing a bad faith insurance claim in Michigan can be tricky; the first step is to hire a qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer to represent your interests. The basics of filing a bad faith claim are similar to any other contract lawsuit. Your attorney will prepare and file a complaint in court, which will be served to the insurance company. They can then defend the claim, and the process of litigation begins.

Often, such cases can be resolved through negotiation and may not have to go to court. However, if we need to go to court, the judge will interpret the policy’s language, review the insurance company’s behavior, and rule. If the case is particularly complex such as a policy that could be interpreted several ways, courts may hold a jury trial.

Even if your case goes to trial, Matz Injury Law will be by your side every step of the way. We will fight for your rights to fair dealing, remind the judge and jury that you are the victim, and stand up to the bullying tactics of bad-faith insurance companies.

Stop Bad Behavior From Insurance. Call Our Attorneys Today

an injured woman shaking hands with a lawyer

You trust your insurance company to care for you when you get hurt. After all, that is why you pay premiums. When they offer low settlements or, even worse, try to get out of paying altogether, it is a stressful and emotionally distressing time. All you want is the benefits you pay for, and you do not understand why they refuse to pay. You may not know where to turn. That is where Matz Injury Law comes into the picture.

At Matz Injury Law, we deeply value open, honest, compassionate client relationships. We treat every client exactly as a member of our own family. We have logged thousands of miles traveling all over Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas. We have represented people from all over this great state for decades, from Grand Rapids to Detroit and beyond, from our Southfield office.

Our standard fee is 22%, not the 33% charged by many of our competitors. Even better, we work on contingency, which means that with our firm, you do not owe us a dime if we do not win your case. That is why our slogan is 22, not 33. We are experienced at winning, and our practice areas cover almost every area of tort law. We fight to ensure you receive justice. Call us today at 1-866-22Not33 or use our online contact form to request a free consultation with our team.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.