Uninsured Motorist and Bad Faith Attorneys in Tulsa, Oklahoma

What Should I Do When The Other Driver Is Uninsured?

If you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident where the other driver did not have Liability Insurance, or did not have enough Liability Insurance, then you are entitled to make a UM claim and have your UM insurer promptly investigate and promptly pay the claim. 

If your UM carrier denies or delays your UM claim; the pain, frustration, and loss you’ve experienced from this one accident multiplies. After all, you paid monthly premiums to your UM carrier to cover the very loss that you just experienced, and your insurance company is not handling your claim reasonably or promptly—this may be considered Bad Faith.

We have seen far too many people get shamelessly taken advantage of by their insurers. Having witnessed this injustice, we continue to fight tenaciously and tirelessly for folks’ rights until we’ve secured the compensation they deserve – unhindered by the agendas of the big insurance conglomerates. 

The team at Rode Law Firm has over 30 years of experience in challenging insurance companies who failed to promptly investigate and promptly pay their insured. 

Call Rode Law Firm at (918) 599-8880 for your free consultation today. We’ll review the facts of your case and see how we can best help you get on your road to physical, financial, and emotional recovery!

It’s safe to say that nobody wants to be involved a car accident. However, if you’re involved in an accident in which the driver responsible is uninsured or underinsured, you might feel an even greater anxiety as you wonder who is going to compensate you for your personal injury, medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, etc.  

When your own UM Carrier does not pay the damages it owes you, your frustration and anxiety skyrocket.  In cases where the UM Carrier is violating duties it owes you, you may also have a claim against your UM Carrier for the tort of Bad Faith.

If you or a loved one believe you might have a UM bad faith claim on your hands, you can trust that we’ll fight for your rights. 

Call the Rode Law Firm at (918) 599-8880 for your free consultation today. We’ll review the facts of your case and see how we can best help you get on your road to physical, financial, and emotional recovery!

 

A Primer to UM Coverage & UM Bad Faith Claims

How does a UM policy come to be?

To answer this question, we must first note that an Automobile Liability Policy is a contract between the Insured and the Insurance Company, which in its simplest form, contains the Insurance Carrier’s promise to pay (up to policy limits) damages or losses to others caused by the Insured/Tortfeasor/at-fault driver.  In Oklahoma, Automobile Liability coverage is required by law (i.e., Mandatory or Compulsory) and the minimum coverage required is 25/50/25.

When you purchase an automobile Liability Policy in Oklahoma, the Insurance Company offering you the Policy/Contract is required, by law, to offer you Uninsured/Underinsured (hereinafter “UM) coverage in writing.  36 O.S. 3636.  UM coverage is one of the most economical coverages you can buy, and it is highly recommended that you purchase UM Coverage in the same amount of your Liability Coverage.  

Some General Terms:

The terms Insurance “Company” and Insurance “Carrier” are used interchangeable, and the Company “carries” the policy or coverage, which covers (i.e., pays for) the loss or damages.  The shorthand reference to an Insurance Company that issues a Liability Policy is the “Liability Carrier”; the shorthand reference to an Insurance Company that issues a Med Pay Policy is the “Med Pay Carrier”; and the shorthand reference to an Insurance Company that issues a UM Policy is the “UM Carrier”. 

What is the UM Policy. When does it apply and Who is Covered, and What Damages are Covered?

When you buy UM coverage from an Insurance Company (i.e., your UM Carrier), the policy or contract provides that you will pay monthly premiums and in exchange, if or when a certain foreseeable, losses occurs, you can then make a claim under the Policy/Contract, and the Insurance Carrier will promptly investigate and pay damages (i.e., cover damages) up to the limits of the Policy/Contract.  In other words, you are buying coverage in case a specific, foreseeable event or loss occurs to prevent financial hardship.  

A UM policy covers bodily injury damages of insureds where the at fault driver has no liability coverage (i.e., uninsured) or where value of the injury claim exceeds the at fault drivers liability limits (i.e., underinsured).

UM coverage provides benefits for the “named insured” on the policy and “relatives” (by blood, or marriage or adoption) who “live in the same household” as the named insured. Stated differently, UM Coverage affords benefits to the named insured and his/her resident relatives. Also, Children who go away for college or the military, are considered residents of the parents’ homes, and where the parents are divorced, the child can be a resident of both parents.

UM Policies covers Personal Injury loss or damages for:  

  • Medical Bills, past and future; 
  • Pain and Suffering (aka mental anguish), past and future; 
  • Lost wages, past and future;
  • Loss of earning capacity; 
  • Loss of household services, past and future;
  • Loss of consortium, past and future
  • Loss of enjoyment, past and future
  • Permanent injury, past and future;  
  • Impairment (Loss of Function or Use), past and future; and 
  • Scarring and disfigurement.

See, OUJI 4.1 attached hereto.

When is a UM Carrier acting in Bad Faith?

When the event covered by the UM Policy/Contract occurs, and you make a claim, you expect and deserve the insurance carrier to perform under the Policy/Contract.  Indeed, this is why you purchased the Policy/Contract in the first place--to protect you from a specific, foreseeable loss.

When an insured makes a claim on his or her UM policy, the UM Carrier has a duty to act in good faith toward its insured.  

It is important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit businesses with thousands of adjusters.  Often times, an adjuster’s annual employee performance review is based, in part, on his/her ability to settle claims for less than the full value of a claim, saving their employer hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

The duties the UM Carrier owe its insured/customer can arise from (1) the policy/contract, (2) performance under the policy/contract, or (3) implied by operation of law. 

Sometimes, claim adjusters for UM Carriers do not do a good job of promptly investigating, evaluating, and paying claims.  This can be from an adjuster purposefully denying a legitimate claim,  improper training, or lack of supervision.

A UM Carrier is acting in bad faith when it breaches one or more of the duties it owes to its insured/customer. Examples of a UM Carrier acting in bad faith include: 

  • UM Carrier’s Failure to timely and properly investigate an insurance claim. Brown v. Patel, 157 P.3d 117, 122 (Okla. 2007).
  • UM Carrier’s Failure to conduct a reasonable investigation. Buzzard v. Farmers Ins. Co., 824 P.2d 1105, 1109 (Okla. 1991).
  • UM Carrier performs an inadequate investigation of the claim. Oulds v. Principal Mut. Life Ins. Co., 6 F.3d 1431, 1442 (10th Cir. 1993);
  • UM Carrier Fails to investigate a claim in an unbiased manner.
  • UM Carrier Withholds payment on the sole basis that the liability insurance has not been exhausted. Mustain v. U.S. Fid. & Guar. Co., 925 P.2d 533, 535 (Okla. 1996).
  • UM Carrier Withholding payment without a reasonable good faith belief for doing so. Oulds v. Principal Mut. Life Ins. Co., 6 F.3d 1431, 1436 (10th Cir. 1993).
  • UM Carrier’s Failure to offer prompt payment after determining that the likely worth of the claim is greater than the liability limits. Buzzard v. Farmers Ins. Co., 824 P.2d 1105, 1112 (Okla. 1991).
  • UM Carrier Offering an inadequate or low-ball settlement given that compensable damages are much higher. 
  • UM Carrier Misrepresenting their insured’s coverage, limiting their insured’s options and compensation moving forward.
  • UM Carrier Denying a claim by relying on exclusions in the UM contract/policy that have been held invalid by Oklahoma Appellant Courts as violating public policy. 
  • UM Carrier Fails to respond to a claim in a reasonable period of time.
  • UM Carrier’s Failure to timely pay a valid claim. Brown v. Patel, 157 P.3d 117, 122 (Okla. 2007);
  • UM Carrier Denying a claim, without a reasonable explanation
  • Medpay Carrier requests a statement under oath by its attorney, taking an adversarial position against its insured/customer.
  • UM Carrier takes an adversarial action against its insured/customer.  Brown v. Patel, 157 P.3d 117 (Okla. 2007).

Call Rode Law Firm at (918) 599-8880 for your free consultation today. We’ll review the facts of your case and see how we can best help you get on your road to physical, financial, and emotional recovery!