Let me be clear: It is my opinion that the time has come that shop owners who have suffered serious financial loss due to any unfair practice by an insurance company begin to take legal action in an attempt to recover their hard-earned gains.
7. TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE WITH BUSINESS – If not criminal, almost every state recognizes the principle of tortious interference with business relations. This concept can be known by different names such as “intentional interference with contractual relations” or a “tort of negligent interference,” depending on the state that your business is in.
It happens when one entity intentionally damages someone else’s contractual or business relationship with a third party, causing economic harm.
It can also occur if it happens without intent but in a negligent manner.
Courts have held that tortious interference of business relations can occur when false claims against the business are made, which can affect reputation that drives business away.
Each state requires proof of certain factors, including proof of damages or the harm caused.
If proven, there might even be punitive or a punishing award that may increase any judgment rendered. Examples are when insurance companies or appraisers intentionally or negligently comment or publish untrue statements that downgrade a particular shop for another to a potential customer.
The aforementioned scenario has been the subject of litigation around the country, and there have been some large verdicts that have been returned against insurance companies.
8. DEFAMATION – Very close and part of the above concept is the area of defamation.
Reputation is a valuable asset in any business. A damaged reputation can result in significant financial hardship. As previously stated, statements made to a third party about a particular shop---if untrue and actual damages can be proven that are directly related to those false statements---can be used to prove a claim of defamation.
States obviously vary. However, the usual requirements are the following: (1) your reputation must be harmed and you must be able to prove it; (2) the statement must be false and you must be able to prove it; (3) you must identify the entity or person who made the statement; (4) you must have suffered provable damages directly relating to the above.