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Assess the potential for success in bad-faith cases.

Bad-faith claims are often defended vigorously and are costly to pursue. Before you commit to what may be a lengthy fight for justice, ask yourself the following questions.

What is the personal plight of the insured plaintiff? Will his or her story resonate with jurors?

What is the amount of the contract claim? Does the fact that the plaintiff has been deprived of that sum justify a significant emotional distress award?

What amount of compensatory damages is likely to be awarded for economic loss, emotional distress, and attorney fees? The greater that amount, the greater the potential for punitive damages, especially in states that cap punitive damages at three times the compensatory award.

How long has the insured been a policyholder? Jurors expect insurers to give long-standing insureds the benefit of the doubt and will be more likely to punish companies that don't.

What is the length of time between the claim and compensation? A lengthy period of denial bolsters your argument that claims personnel are taught to hold on to the insurer's money for as long as possible to maximize profits.

How do people perceive the insurance company? Slogans such as "good hands," "good neighbor," and "piece of the rock" give the impression that the insurer can be trusted, but jurors may perceive the slogans simply as marketing tools rather than standards of care that the company promises to meet.

Guy O. Kornblum

San Francisco
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Author:Kornblum, Guy O.
Publication:Trial
Date:Nov 1, 2005
Words:236
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