Lawyers at two firms ranked in the Best Law Firms insurance category happen to practice on opposite sides in insurance bad faith litigation. Muliha Khan, owner and managing partner of Zupkus & Angell, defends insurance companies. Brad Levin and Jeremy Sitcoff of Levin Sitcoff represent insurance policy holders.
“We’re very proud of the work we’ve done over the course of many years in the insurance space. We’ve been able to forge a place in this area which we believe is unique,” Levin said. “We do every type of insurance … and we think that puts us in a good position as far as really understanding whatever clients’ insurance issues may come up.”
Lawyers who work on insurance bad faith cases have had no shortage of work in the past few years. Colorado’s insurance bad faith law addressing unreasonable delay or denial is barely a decade old, passed in 2008. It took 10 years until the Colorado Supreme Court released a set of decisions with sweeping interpretations of the law.
Among the rulings, the Supreme Court decided plaintiffs have two years to file insurance bad faith claims. The law protects insured people from improper delay or denial of claims by their insurance companies, and potentially puts insurance companies on the hook for double damages and plaintiffs’ attorney fees. And in reality, the amount of damages can actually triple because the Supreme Court also decided a damages award shouldn’t be reduced by the amount an insurance company unreasonably delayed but ultimately paid. Khan said she believes the parts of the law allowing for attorney fees and multiplied damages have driven increased insurance bad faith litigation.
“That kind of takes some of the risk out of it for [plaintiffs],” she said. Just this year she has had two insurance bad faith trials, when she typically has one every few years given that most cases settle.