South Carolina Lawyer
Vol. 13, No. 1, Pg. 18.
Bad-Faith Insurance Litigation in The South Carolina Practice Manual
18Bad-Faith Insurance Litigation in The South Carolina Practice ManualCondensed from Chapter by George J. Kefalos and R. Davis Hawser Foreword by The Hon. William Howard and Warren MOiseFOREWORD
The concept behind The South Carolina Practice Manual was born of the idea that many lawyers decline to take cases in uncharted legal territory, simply because they are unfamiliar with the basic applicable legal rules and procedures.
For example, many lawyers in South Carolina could and probably would represent clients in domestic relations, workers' compensation or products liability matters if they only had a basic road map teaching them to get them started. When a potential client calls for advice on a construction claim, some lawyers will simply refer it to another attorney more familiar with the law in that area. And how many lawyers blanche when called from the jailhouse by a relative who is "in trouble" on even a minor criminal charge? Similarly, there is no need for young or inexperienced lawyers to spend years learning to excel in a given legal field when advice from top practitioners can help speed them on their way.
Although other states such as Maryland have how-to books, South Carolina had no real general manual covering multiple areas of law practice until The South Carolina Practice Manual was created. Most chapters in the South Carolina Practice Manual include citations to basic legal authorities, investigative tips, helpful Web sites and forms like complaints, answers and discovery requests to make the books truly user friendly. The writers are among the most respected South Carolina attorneys in their respective fields, specifically chosen by the editors after consultation with the Bench and Bar. The writers put countless hours into the project pro bono publico. Two civil law volumes are in print, and a third volume covering criminal practice will be forthcoming in 2001 or early 2002.
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When an insurer wrongfully, unreasonably or in bad faith denies a claim or when it wrongfully, unreasonably or in bad faith refuses to settle a claim, the insured might have a cause of action against the insurer. If a valid claim lies against the insurance company, the insured might be able to recover actual, consequential and punitive damages beyond the face value of the insurance contract.
To understand the principles in this area of the law, it is important to learn the context in which bad faith arises, together with the nature of the claims that give rise to the cause of action. Direct payments by an insurance company to its own insured for losses are known as first-party payments; the insured's claims against the insurance company covering him or her are first-party claims. These sorts of losses and claims can arise under any conceivable sort of insurance policy which protects the insured against loss.
On the other hand, payments for losses suffered by persons other than the insured and for which the insured may be liable are called third-party claims; such claims commonly arereferred to as liability claims. Third-party claims can include any losses suffered by non-insureds under any sort of policy for which the insured might actually (or arguably) be liable for injury to some third person or his property. These would include automobile...