Punitive Damages In Insurance Cases

Insurance attorneys in Weatherford can tell you that an insurance company will often times mistreat their customers. The question would be, does the conduct arise to the level as to allow punitive damages and if so, how do you know that and what are the punitive damages.
Their are a couple places in the Texas Insurance Code to look for answers. The first place is under “definitions” which is found in Section 541.002.
(1) “Knowingly” means actual awareness of the falsity, unfairness, or deceptiveness of the act or practice on which a claim for damages under Subchapter D is based. Actual awareness may be inferred if objective manifestations indicate that a person acted with actual awareness.
Next, what is the punishment. Look at Section 541.152.
(a) A plaintiff who prevails in an action under this subchapter may obtain:
(1) the amount of actual damages, plus court costs and reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees;
(2) an order enjoining the act or failure to act complained of; or (3) any other relief the court determines is proper.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), on a finding by the trier of fact that the defendant knowingly committed the act complained of, the trier of fact may award an amount not to exceed three times the amount of actual damages.
Now, look at what can be done if the insurance company pays but is slow about doing it. This is found in Section 542.060.
(a) If an insurer that is liable for a claim under an insurance policy is not in compliance with this subchapter, the insurer is liable to pay the holder of the policy or the beneficiary making the claim under the policy, in addition to the amount of the claim, interest on the amount of the claim at the rate of 18 percent a year as damages, together with reasonable attorney’s fees.
(b) If a suit is filed, the attorney’s fees shall be taxed as part of the costs in the case.
The above does include penalties for wrong doing found in the Texas Business & Commerce Code, Section 17.50, –
(b) In a suit filed under this section, each consumer who prevails may obtain:
(1) the amount of economic damages found by the trier of fact. If the trier of fact finds that the conduct of the defendant was committed knowingly, the consumer may also recover damages for mental anguish, as found by the trier of fact, and the trier of fact may award not more than three times the amount of economic damages; or if the trier of fact finds the conduct was committed intentionally, the consumer may recover damages for mental anguish, as found by the trier of fact, and the trier of fact may award not more than three times the amount of damages for mental anguish and economic damages;
(d) Each consumer who prevails shall be awarded court costs and reasonable and necessary attorneys’ fees.
but does not include damages found for slow payment of Personal Injury Protection benefits found in Section 1952.157
(a) If the insurer fails to pay benefits under the coverage required by this subchapter when due, the person entitled to those benefits may bring an action in contract to recover the benefits.
(b) If the insurer is required to pay benefits described by Subsection (a), the person entitled to the benefits is entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees, a penalty of 12 percent, and interest at the legal rate from the date those amounts became overdue.