Changes coming for bad-faith jury instructions?

The state of California has proposed changes to insurance jury instructions. The impact of these changes could have a negative effect on consumers. 

Bad Faith Litigation

In California, bad faith litigation occurs when an insurance company refuses to honor its obligations under a policy. This means that they are refusing to pay for certain claims made by policyholders. For example, if a homeowner experiences damages that they feel are covered under the policy, they will file a claim with their homeowner's insurance company.

The company is responsible for paying the claim that is submitted by their insured. They may investigate the claim, and for whatever reason, decide to not pay the claim as requested. They may allege that the damage that has been caused is not something that they cover. In some of these circumstances, this is not true. The company is denying the claim simply to avoid paying it - they are more concerned with their bottom line than the needs of their customers.

Fortunately, those who feel their insurance company is acting in bad faith do have options available to them, but, these are extremely difficult cases. Insurance companies may refuse to negotiate with the policyholders, resulting in litigation. And that is why the change to these jury instructions could be bad for potential clients: it just makes things much harder for those with bad faith claims.

Changes to Come

The California Civil Instructions Committee oversees jury instructions within California. The Committee has decided to adopt changes to the current jury instructions in these cases.

Now, juries can decide that if a defendant refuses to accept a settlement, they are being unreasonable (and therefore rule against them). The Committee has defined 'unreasonable' to mean "that the insurer had no proper cause for its conduct."

These changes mean that in addition to proving the insurer failed to accept a reasonable offer within policy limits, the insured must also prove the defendant insurer's conduct was unreasonable when they failed to accept said offer.

This change is pro-insurance company because now plaintiffs must prove that a rejected settlement demand is unreasonable specifically because the insurer had no proper cause to reject the demand.

Seek Advice

We cannot stress how important it is to have an attorney handle these types of claims. Seek out an attorney that is well-versed in insurance law and understands these new changes. These proposed changes are not in the consumers' favor; find an attorney who will be on your side. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Our Attorneys

Our Insurance Lawyers Can Help

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

  • American Board of Trial Advocates
    American Board of Trial Advocates A prestigious national association of experienced trial lawyers and judges. Membership is by exclusive invitation only. All members shall have completed 10 civil jury trials to jury verdict or hung jury as lead counsel.
  • Best Lawyers
    Best Lawyers The oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers.
  • AV | PeerReviewRated | Martindale-Hubbell | For Ethical Standards and Legal Ability
    Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings An objective peer review rating indicator of a lawyer's high ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary. Pillsbury & Coleman founding partner Philip L. Pillsbury Jr. is rated “AV Preeminent.”
  • Super Lawyers
    Super Lawyers A peer-review rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
  • Best Lawyers | Best Law Firms | U.S.News & World Report | 2019
    Best Lawyers Best Law Firms U.S. News 2019
  • American Association for Justice | Formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)
    American Association for Justice (AAJ) Founded in 1946, AAJ is the world’s largest trial bar and supports the work of attorneys to ensure that injured plaintiffs can obtain justice.
  • American College of Coverage Counsel
    American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel Composed of preeminent insurance coverage counsel in the United States and Canada, representing the interests of both insurers and policyholders. The minimum membership requirement is the practice of insurance law for at least fifteen consecutive years.
  • Association of Business Trial Lawyers | abtl
    Association of Business Trial Lawyers Founded in 1972, ABTL is dedicated to connecting litigators and judges to address issues important to trial lawyers.
  • Consumer Attorneys of California
    Consumer Attorneys of California The only California-wide unified trial bar for plaintiffs lawyers who represent consumers harmed by powerful foes such as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, automobile manufacturers and banks.
  • SFTLA | San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
    San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association For over 60 years, this prestigious bar association has educated and trained trial lawyers and supported and passed critical legislation to protect and advance individuals’ rights.
  • United Policyholders | Empowering the Insured
    United Policyholders A non-profit group dedicated to providing trustworthy and useful information and an effective voice for insurance consumers in all 50 states.
  • America's Top 100 High Stakes Litigators | 2018 | Top 100
    ACCEC | American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel | Fellow