Mansell, Engel & Cole

Does plaintiff need to prove insurer's ill will in bad-faith claim?

Our blog entry today focuses upon an important proof threshold relevant to a bad-faith claim brought by an injured plaintiff denied coverage under an insurance policy.

Before getting into the details below, our experienced policyholders' rights attorneys at the proven Oklahoma insurance law firm of Mansell, Engel & Cole necessarily drive home one essential point for our readers in Oklahoma City, across the state and in surrounding jurisdictions.

And that is this: Many insurance-related rules and guidelines operative to policies and coverage thereunder are state-specific.

That is, the statutory and case law applicable to any given insurance dispute can be different from state to state, leading to less-than-uniform outcomes in some instances. That reality makes it critically important for an aggrieved policyholder to timely consult with seasoned attorneys who intimately understand legislative pronouncements and judicial interpretation/rulings at the local level in which an insurance dispute is playing out.

Having said that, we note an interesting and instructive case ruling issued recently by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Justices in that matter were responding to an insurer defendant's assertion that a plaintiff policyholder must prove an insurer's ill will as a prerequisite to seeking recovery in a bad-faith claim.

The court shot down that argument, reasoning that such a high proof standard "would limit recovery in any bad-faith claim to the most egregious instances."

And such a highly imposed hurdle could easily thwart justice, requiring plaintiffs to have virtually "smoking gun" evidence to even get an injury claim off the ground.

Almost any insurance dispute -- certainly in Oklahoma -- will entail complexity and key considerations relevant to timing, policy-language interpretation and related matters. A plaintiff with questions or concerns regarding any aspect of problematic insurer behavior might reasonably want to contact a proven policyholders' attorney for diligent assistance without delay.

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