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Our goal at Abourezk & Garcia is to help people when their insurance company breaks its word.From our office in Rapid City, South Dakota, we are lawyers that help people whose insurance claims have wrongly been denied or delayed. If you have an insurance claim or coverage dispute, whether it is in South Dakota or elsewhere, and need an attorney, our website is available to help you. Lawyers who represent insurance policyholders are also welcome to review the extensive insurance bad faith articles and resources in our library. We have written hundreds of legal briefs related to insurance coverage and bad faith claim denials, and have handled cases in Sioux Falls and all across South Dakota, as well as many other states. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, please visit our Rapid City office, or phone or e-mail us.
Teri V. Powell, July 19, 1948 - January 7, 2007.
Teri Powell knew she didn't have long to live, and would not be alive to see the trial. Nor would she ever personally benefit from bringing a lawsuit to expose CUNA Mutual Insurance Society. But in her testimony taken just 30 days before her death, she explained that "if they are doing this to me, they are doing it to a lot of other people, maybe some who are even worse off than me. So if I can do something to help them, this is my chance." [Read More]
Frivolous? Rudolph didn't think so.Rudolph passed away a few months ago at age 93. His last years were spent in a nursing home in Hosmer, SD. Rudolph had purchased nursing home insurance in case he ever needed help later in life. He didn't want to be a burden to his children. As it turned out, he did need help.
His insurance company paid for his nursing home care for three years, but then abruptly wrote Rudolph a letter saying his benefits were being cut off. They wrote the same letter to a lot of other people living in nursing homes. When we found out about it, we sued them, and as soon as we sued, the company started paying again.
Unbelievable? We think so.
Rudolph should not have had to spend the last year of his life hiring lawyers and fighting insurance companies.
Frivolous lawsuit? Denise doesn't think so.Denise supported herself and her two children for years, working at a Rapid City grocery store until she seriously injured her back at work. Denise's doctor said she needed surgery, but the worker's compensation insurance company refused to pay for it.
So, Denise hired us. The insurance company then paid for itsown doctor to examine Denise. He agreed that Denise had been injured at work and needed surgery. Incredibly, the insurance company still refused to pay. Meanwhile, Denise was in excruciating pain, unable to work, and ultimately lost her home. Unbelievable? We thought so.
We sued them.
Because insurance companies should keep their promises.
Frivolous lawsuit? Shelly doesn't think so.And neither do we. One day in 1999, Shelly was on her way to work in Rapid City when a hit and run driver slammed into the side of her car, sending her to the hospital in an ambulance. She was seriously hurt and stacked up over $50,000 in medical bills. Fortunately, Shelly had insurance coverage of $100,000, so she turned her medical bills in to her own insurance company. What Shelly didn't know was that her insurance company secretly pays thousands of dollars in bonuses to its claims adjusters if they can cut claims expenses.
So, when Shelly filed her claim, her claims adjuster simply refused to pay. For six years, the company fought her claim, and for six years Shelly refused to give up, spending thousands of dollars in expenses. Finally, after she sued them and just a few days before facing a trial, the company paid Shelly's claim in full. Unbelievable? We thought so. When insurance companies break their promises, we're here to hold them responsible.
Frivolous? Kathy's husband doesn't think so.In 1998 Kathy was diagnosed with cancer. Prior to that, she had purchased cancer insurance that promised to pay the actual costs for her radiation treatment. At first, the company paid. But then it decided that it could increase its profit significantly by only paying for the cost of the radiation and not for the doctor's work to make sure the radiation placement was safe. So, it just quit paying for these services to Kathy and many other South Dakota cancer patients.
We had never met Kathy. We had met some of the other cancer patients, and we took their cases. A South Dakota federal judge ruled that the insurance company had to pay all of the costs of radiation treatment, because its policy said so. The company paid the people we represented, but still wouldn't pay Kathy because she wasn't one of the people who sued them. Kathy and her husband called us. As soon as the company found out Kathy had contacted us, they put a check in the mail for the full amount of what they owed her. But it was too late. The check arrived in her mailbox the day of her funeral. We think insurance companies should keep their promises.
Frivolous lawsuit? Kay doesn't think so.When Kay, a hardworking, single mom from Yankton, took out a health insurance policy, she believed that her medical bills would be covered. Unfortunately, when Kay was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, she found herself fighting for her life and with her insurance company.
Kay's doctors treated her with chemotherapy. The treatment made her ill, but Kay's insurance company refused to pay for the anti-nausea drugs prescribed by her doctors, claiming it wasn't a necessary part of treatment. She hired us. We found out that this same insurance company was denying payment for anti-nausea drugs to cancer patients across the country. When Kay found this out, she gave up rights on her own case and brought a class action suit, forcing the company to repay the claims of other cancer patients nationwide. We don't think insurance companies should treat people that way. We think insurance companies should keep their promises.
Frivolous lawsuit? Jerome doesn't think so.And neither do we. Jerome is a South Dakota farmer. Back in 1976, he took out a disability insurance policy that promised to pay if an injury left him unable to farm. Disability insurance was important to Jerome because he only had one good arm to start with. You see, Jerome suffered an injury to his left arm at birth, making it useless in farming. After paying premiums for over 20 years, Jerome badly injured his right arm in a farm accident. An insurance company doctor agreed that Jerome could not farm. No longer able to make a living at farming, he asked his insurance company to live up to its promises. His insurance company began making payments but after a few years, it was bought by a larger corporation. This new corporation began looking for ways to save money. It not only cancelled Jerome's benefits but demanded he write an immediate check for $20,000 to repay the money it had paid him for his disability. Unbelievable? That's what we thought. We sued them. We think insurance companies should keep their promises
Grong v. Farmers InsuranceMike Abourezks investigation of Farmers Insurance led to 1.75 million in fines against the insurance company. The Departments of Insurance in North Dakota and California followed up on information we uncovered during the investigation of this case.
In 2006, the California Insurance Commissioner fined Farmers one million dollars. The Commissioner said "This fine should send a message to all companies that this Department will not tolerate mistreatment of policyholders."
A few months later, in 2007, The North Dakota Commissioner found that when handling auto claims, Farmers Insurance had "systemic claims handling practices that were at best unfair and at worst, abusive to the policyholder..... The exam report describes incentive programs and slogans, such as the Bring Back a Billion campaign, which encouraged employees to work to rebuild surplus and utilized pledges that employees signed. Also detailed are company action plans that set goals that were unfair and arbitrary. For example, examiners found that company forms included goals that bodily injury claims be settled within a predetermined range rather than on each claim's merits. In addition, Farmers instituted a goal to close a set percentage of claims without payment." This led the North Dakota Insurance Department to impose a $750,000 fine against the insurance giant.
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