Disputes between insurance companies and their clients can sometimes escalate to the point where taking outside legal action is necessary. If you find yourself in this position, it’s important to take the proper precautions to effectively represent the situation and gather enough evidence to win the lawsuit. Here’s what you need to know about suing your homeowners insurance company and receiving the benefits to which you’re entitled.
Step 1: Hire an attorney
If you have the financial means, consider hiring an attorney to represent you in the case against your insurance company. As legal experts, attorneys can help you look at the situation from a new perspective and provide you with valuable advice on how to share your story and prove you are entitled to whatever benefits you are seeking. If possible, try to find an attorney who specializes in suing insurance companies, especially if they come highly recommended.
Step 2: Gather the facts of the case
Though you may begin gathering evidence to support your case (i.e., documents, receipts, emails, etc.) before hiring an attorney, it is essential that you share all of the facts and any additional information you discover with your legal team as soon as possible. This will provide your lawyer with the ability to fully understand all of the moving parts of the case and allow them to create a comprehensive plan for legal and financial victory.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, you must be sure that you never mislead your attorney or embellish your story in any way, as this can be considered fraud and will impact your ability to come out of the case with a win.
###Step 3: Prepare for your deposition
After both parties (i.e., you and your insurance company) exchange documents and begin to analyze all of the accepted facts of the case, you will be required to sit in on a deposition, or a formal meeting in which you discuss your version of the events (with both parties present) while sworn under oath. At this time, your insurance company’s legal representative will ask you to recount the facts of the case as you experienced them, and may even attempt to discredit parts of your story using the evidence they have found.
In the event that this occurs, your attorney retains the power to object against and misleading or otherwise unfair questions and will be there to support you throughout the entire process.
Step 4: Decide whether to settle or go to trial
Though most legal disputes with insurance companies end with a financial settlement, there are some instances where these cases can go to trial. Depending on your personal circumstances, both outcomes come with their own list of pros and cons.
Here’s everything you need to know about both options.
Settlement: Because going to trial can be expensive and time-consuming, most insurance companies prefer to reach a settlement. While this outcome may help you resolve the matter quickly, it can also limit your likelihood of receiving all the benefits to which you may be entitled if you were to go to trial. Nonetheless, if you intend to sign off on a settlement agreement, make sure you weigh your options carefully before accepting an offer.
Trial: If you and your insurance company cannot agree on settlement terms, the case will be forced to go to trial. This means that you will have to testify in court and prove your case to a jury in order to win and receive financial compensation. Before deciding to take a case to trial, consider how it will impact your financial situation and assess whether the pay-out you may potentially receive is worth the additional responsibility and hassle going to trial will add to your life.
Step 5: Assess the outcome
Whether you’ve agreed on a financial settlement or successfully won your lawsuit, congratulations! You have reached the end of a laborious process that you will hopefully not have to repeat any time soon. Remember that when a policyholder sues their own insurance company and obtains a judgment against them, the policyholder’s legal fees are typically paid for by the insurance company. Be sure to take advantage of financial reimbursement if you can.
If you didn’t reach a settlement and/or lost the trial, you can consider appealing the decision and beginning the process again or cutting your losses entirely and moving on.