Insurance can help offset the high costs associated with personal injuries in Oregon, but dealing with insurance companies often proves challenging. Bad faith practices can result in denied or disputed claims. Find out what constitutes bad faith on the part of the insurance and how to protect your rights to compensation.
What Are Bad Faith Insurance Practices In Oregon?
According to the National Association Of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), insurance companies claim close to $20 billion in net earnings each year. In addition to increasing policy premiums, one of the ways they protect profits is by avoiding paying out on claims.
While there are situations where they are justified in denying payment, the fact is that bad faith practices are rampant throughout the insurance industry. State and federal laws help protect consumers in dealing with these companies and their representatives. Under Oregon’s Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Statute (ORS 746.230), insurers are prohibited from engaging in the following:
- Misrepresenting the terms of insurance policies;
- Failing to respond promptly to claims and other communications from clients;
- Failure to conduct investigations and resolve claims in a timely manner;
- Denying coverage without notice and for no valid reason;
- Attempting to settle claims for less than the total amount an injured party otherwise deserves;
- Trying to avoid payouts by forcing consumers to take the insurer to court.
How Do Bad Faith Practices Impact Your Rights In A Personal Injury Claim
According to the state Health Authority, more than 10,000 people suffer personal injuries in Oregon that require lengthy hospital stays. Others obtain treatment through local emergency rooms, clinics, or their doctor’s offices. Among the most common causes include motor vehicle accidents, slips and falls, and sports or recreational injuries.
When they happen due to negligence on the part of others involved, you have the right to hold those at fault liable in a claim. In many cases, insurance policies they have in place can help to offset your losses. However, bad faith practices can impact your rights to compensation in a personal injury claim, leaving you to pay out of pocket for some or all of the costs involved. Among the most common tactics insurers are likely to use to avoid payouts include:
- Denying whether coverage was in effect at the time of the accident;
- Disputing whether the situation is covered under the terms of the policy;
- Accusing you of being at fault and therefore ineligible for compensation;
- Downplaying the extent of the injuries or property damages you suffered;
- Otherwise delaying your claim, failing to communicate regarding any progress, and not making you aware of important deadlines.
Protecting Your Rights When Dealing With Insurers
Insurance companies often dispute, deny, or downplay payouts in personal injury claims knowing that the claimant is vulnerable and likely to accept whatever amount is owed. You can take the insurance company to court for engaging in bad faith practices, but they typically have teams of attorneys on their side and know that the worst thing that can happen is that they will be forced to comply with the policy and pay the total amount owed.
Previously, insurers could only be forced to pay actual losses suffered by personal injury victims in a bad faith lawsuit. However, a recent Oregon Appeals Court decision (Moody v. Oregon Community Credit Union, 317 Or App 233 (2022)) may have changed that. In this case, the court awarded the plaintiff non-economic damages, compensating him for the pain and suffering he experienced in dealing with the insurer.
Other than taking an insurer to court for bad faith practices, there are other steps you can take to protect your rights when filing a personal injury claim in Oregon:
- Notify the police and make sure an accident report is filed;
- Gather evidence, such as contact information for witnesses and photos at the accident scene;
- Seek medical attention immediately and thoroughly document your injuries;
- Contact our Oregon personal injury attorney before making any statements to insurers or accepting any settlements.
Request A Consultation With Our Oregon Personal Injury Attorneys Today
At Johnston Law Firm, we protect the rights of personal injury victims, dealing with insurers on their behalf and helping them get the total amount they are owed. Before accepting a settlement that is likely less than what you deserve or need to fully recover, request a consultation with our Oregon personal injury attorneys first. Call (503) 546-3167 or contact us online today.