Can You Sue the Insurance Company Directly in Your Car Accident Lawsuit?

One thing that confuses a lot of car accident victims is the fact that you have to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. Yet, if their claim is denied, they can sue the other driver for damages.

It seems like it would make a lot more sense to sue the insurance company directly in a car accident lawsuit. But this isn’t the way things work. An experienced Charlotte accident attorney understands that you can only sue the insurance company directly if they deny your claim in bad faith.

Your Charlotte Accident Attorney Will Try to Settle Your Claim

After a car crash, the accident victim files a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If your claim is denied, you would then appeal your claim. Ideally, your Charlotte accident attorney will resolve your case without the need for legal action.

It’s important to remember that, while you are filing a claim against the defendant’s insurance policy, you aren’t actually suing the insurance company.

You Can File a Car Accident Lawsuit Against the Other Driver

If the insurance company won’t settle your claim, you have two options. Your first option is to accept the fact that your claim won’t be paid and walk away. If this happens, you’ll be personally responsible for your medical bills. You’ll also have to pay to get your car fixed.

Second, you can file a car accident lawsuit against the other driver in civil court. In your complaint, your Charlotte accident attorney cannot name the insurance company as a defendant. However, the insurance company is legally required to represent the other driver in court.

You Can Only Sue the Insurance Company Directly for Bad Faith

The only way you could sue the insurance company directly is if they acted in bad faith. Essentially, this means that the insurance company denied your claim without a valid reason.

You can argue bad faith if the insurance company intentionally denied your claim, hoping you would either back off or accept a lowball settlement offer. Your attorney will also have to prove that you suffered damages as a result of their bad faith.

For example, imagine that you needed back surgery after your accident. Your primary health insurance company won’t pay for the surgery because it’s related to a motor vehicle accident. As a result, you don’t have the surgery and end up with a permanent disability.

Your Charlotte accident attorney will argue that this was due to the insurance carrier’s bad faith. Had they approved your claim in the first place, you wouldn’t be in this position now.

in most cases, you cannot sue the insurer directly after a car crash.

How Do You Prove Bad Faith on the Part of the Insurance Carrier?

In North Carolina, there are two ways to prove bad faith on the part of the insurance company. Your Charlotte accident attorney can approach the case using common law or statutory law.

If your claim is based on common law, then you must show the following three things to prevail in your bad faith claim:

  • The insurance company refused to pay a valid claim.
  • They acted in bad faith.
  • The company engaged in outrageous or egregious conduct.

Your Charlotte accident attorney can also take a statutory approach. According to N.C. Gen. Stat. §58-63-15(11), to prevail on a bad faith claim, you must show three things:

  • The insurance carrier is engaged in unfair or deceptive practices.
  • Their practices must be part of commerce.
  • Their bad faith must be the proximate cause of your injuries.

This last element is important. For example, even if your Charlotte accident attorney can prove bad faith, they must also prove causation. If the insurance carrier’s bad faith didn’t result in a loss, you won’t receive damages.

What Kind of Damages Can Your Charlotte Accident Attorney Demand for Bad Faith?

If you’re able to demonstrate bad faith by the insurance company, you can demand that they pay you certain damages. These damages are not the same as they would be if you filed a car accident lawsuit against the other driver personally.

Of course, you’re still going to expect your auto insurance claim to be paid. However, you can also demand the following damages in a bad faith claim:

  • Any consequential damages you experience – This includes things like attorney fees (for the bad faith claim), extra medical bills due to the denial of your initial claim, and any other losses you experienced.
  • Your Charlotte accident attorney can demand punitive damages in cases involving bad faith.

Just keep in mind that the courts are reluctant to grant punitive damages.

Call a Skilled Charlotte Car Accident Attorney Today!

Our Charlotte accident attorneys will do their best to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company and get you the compensation you deserve. But we are ready to take your case to court if the insurer denies your claim unfairly or won’t offer a reasonable settlement.

If you’ve been hurt in a car crash in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, contact our office today at 704.706.2689 and schedule your free, initial consultation.