If you have to file an insurance claim, you expect your insurance company to pay your claim in accordance with your policy. However, insurance companies don’t profit by handing out cash to anyone who asks. Some may offer you a lowball settlement, and some might deny your claim for no reason. This is called acting in “bad faith.”
It’s possible to sue the insurance company for acting in bad faith with the help of a Houston insurance attorney. However, it’s important to know what evidence is admissible in a lawsuit against your insurance company for acting in bad faith and/or wrongfully denying your insurance claim and what types of evidence are not.
Admissible evidence includes that used to prove or disprove a fact regarding coverage for your insurance claim.
Documentary evidence includes all documents relevant to your case. For instance, the insurance contract or insurance policy may constitute evidence of bad faith if the insurer breached that contract. Likewise, contractor’s quotes or estimates regarding the reasonable cost to complete repair of damages that are the subject of your insurance claim may be admissible, documentary evidence.
Demonstrative evidence, as the name suggests, shows or demonstrates a fact of your case. Such evidence may include photos, videos, diagrams, or other depictions of the damages that are the subject of your insurance claim.
Real evidence comes from an actual physical object related to the case. For example, a sample from your roof following a loss may serve as real evidence in your bad faith lawsuit against your insurance company.
Testimonial evidence includes statements from anyone involved in the case, such as fact witnesses.
Now that we’ve discussed admissible evidence, let’s go over a few types of evidence that your Houston insurance attorney (and the other party) cannot use in your case.
Opinions have no place in a lawsuit unless they come from a qualified person, or expert, such as an expert accident reconstructionist, doctor, or forensic accountant. For instance, an accident reconstructionist can give their expert opinion on whether the damages to your property are the result of a covered loss, such as windstorm or hail.
Evidence of Criminal Actions
Even if you were convicted of a crime, that fact does not always have any bearing on your bad faith case against your insurance company. This means the insurance company can’t refuse to pay you simply because you have prior criminal convictions unless the crime you were convicted of has direct bearing on the facts of your case and whether the insurance company acted reasonably in refusing to extend coverage for your claim.
Improperly Collected Evidence
You might be surprised at what some insurance companies will do to avoid paying a claim. Insurance companies do not have the right to record your personal phone calls without your consent, to hack your computer, or to intimidate you. If the insurance company does any of these things, the court may find evidence obtained by such means inadmissible.
In a lawsuit, one party can’t use something someone said out of court as evidence. For instance, let’s say the insurance adjuster called and asked how you were. You figured they were making small talk, and you said, “I’m OK.”
The insurance company couldn’t use that statement as evidence against you in court unless the statement is documented in the claim file, and the adjuster is available to testify and be cross-examined in court regarding his statement.
In court, the judge wants both parties to stick to relevant evidence only. This means the insurance company can’t use the fact that you dropped out of high school or lost your job as evidence in a lawsuit unless those facts are somehow relevant to the particular facts of your case.
Contact Our Insurance Claims Lawyers
Is your insurance company offering a lowball settlement or refusing to pay a valid claim? McLaurin Law has years of experience representing clients whose insurance companies act in bad faith. Your insurance lawyer will come prepared to fight for your rights and help you achieve a fair settlement.
For a consultation with a Houston insurance attorney, call us at (713) 528-8012.