After winning an arbitration with a homeowners' insurance company, can I sue to recoup costs?
Question Details: Our home was damaged in spring. The adjuster lowballed our damages and we requested a second adjustment. Since it was a small insurance company they only work with one adjustor and so the same adjuster came out to give us the "second opinion". Surprise, the adjustment didn't change. It was a low low ball offer. We ended up going to arbitration incurring about $2000 in costs, not to mention time/stress/etc. We won the arbitration. Can we sue the insurance company to recoup our costs of having to go this route in the first place? The final judgment was significantly more than what they said appraised it as.
No, you cannot unless the insurance policy said that in the event of a dispute, the winner recovers legal fees. Under the "American Rule" for litigation, which is the rule in our country, each party bears its own litigation (and arbitration) expenses and cannot recover them from the other side. Only if there was a statute specifically saying you could recover the costs, which is the case in only a handful of matters (primarily those involving forms of discrimination)--and is not the case in insurance or contract lawsuits--or the policy, which is a contract, stated the winner recovers costs from the other side (since then, the two parties agreed in advance to this), can you get your expenses from the insurer.