There are many reasons why your settlement may be taking a long time, such as:
- The claims adjuster’s overwhelming load of cases
- The insurance company waiting on records from your healthcare providers or employer
Unfortunately, the insurance company might also intentionally drag its heels in hopes that you will miss the statute of limitations for your case and lose the right to seek compensation through a lawsuit. In cases like these, an attorney may be the best option to avoid or fight delays.
These are but a few examples of things that could delay your case from reaching a settlement.
Insurance Companies May Delay Your Case As They Do Not Benefit From Paying Settlements Quickly
Many insurance companies are billion-dollar corporations that earn profits for their shareholders by investing their financial reserves. If they processed and paid valid claims quickly, they would lose the opportunity to make money from those funds.
For example, if an insurer can hold onto its money for an extra year or two, it can enjoy profits from having those funds invested in the stock market or other financial ventures. When the claims adjuster repeatedly asks for “one more thing” from you or says that they are waiting for settlement authorization, their actual reason might be to hold onto their investments longer.
If it feels like a confusing uphill battle to deal with a claims adjuster, you may benefit from an attorney who knows and can combat their manipulative tactics.
The Insurer May Be Trying to Push Your Case Past the Statute of Limitations
Most people do not know that the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit can affect their ability to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. The statute of limitations is the filing deadline for a car accident lawsuit. If you miss the filing deadline, North Carolina law can forever bar you from taking the at-fault party to court. If this happens, you’ve lost a great deal of leverage in settlement negotiations.
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury case in our state is three years, according to G.S. § 1-52. For a wrongful death lawsuit, you have even less time. Per G.S. § 1-53, these lawsuits must be filed within two years. Negotiating with the insurer does not satisfy the statute of limitations. If your case has not yet settled, and the insurer is stalling, it would benefit your case to have the option of filing a lawsuit.
The claims adjuster will be well aware of the statute of limitations that applies to your injury case. They have no legal obligation to inform you of the filing deadline. If the claims adjuster stops returning your calls or answering your emails, the statute of limitations might have expired, and with it, your right to pursue damages in civil court.
By Delaying Your Settlement, The Insurer Hopes to Make You Desperate
If you have severe injuries that prevent you from working, the stack of unpaid bills at your house might be getting higher and higher. Bill collectors do not care that the insurance company is playing the waiting game. Also, you might find it increasingly challenging to buy groceries or pay other living expenses with no income.
Some claims adjusters use delay tactics to create a financial hardship that motivates you to accept any settlement offer, even though you may need and be entitled to more than they offered.
Sometimes, adjusters prioritize cases in which injured people have involved their lawyers, leaving the other claims to wait. The adjuster may not take these cases as seriously until the plaintiff gets an attorney on board, or they might hope that the unrepresented plaintiff misses the statute of limitations during the delay.
Communication Between Healthcare Providers and Insurers Can Delay Your Case
The insurance company might not make a settlement offer because they are still waiting on the medical records they requested from your doctor and other healthcare professionals. Medical records departments usually do not send requested records promptly. You might need to call the doctor’s office several times before they will send the records.
Unfortunately, in a situation like this, you might need to be the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease” so that the insurance company can complete their investigation and evaluation of your injury claim.
You Should Not Settle Your Injury Claim Until You Finish Your Medical Treatment
It might be necessary to file a lawsuit to protect your right to compensation if your injury claim has not yet settled and the filing deadline is approaching. That strategy would be preferable to settling your injury case before you complete your medical treatment.
Imagine settling your injury claim only to find out that you need additional medical treatment to get better. Even worse, imagine that you have reached the maximum level of healing, but you will continue to have problems from your injuries for the rest of your life.
You cannot go back and ask for more money after you settle your case. As a part of the settlement, you will have to sign a waiver of all future claims against the defendant for that accident. Any future medical bills will come out of your pocket. You cannot get more money later for your ongoing impairments even if you would have qualified for more money at the time of the original claim.
What to Do When the Insurance Company Ignores Your Injury Claim
Let’s say that you submitted a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company and got no response. A week goes by, then two weeks, then a month. You call the claims department but do not even get the courtesy of a return phone call. What should you do?
One way to get the insurance company’s attention is to hire a lawyer to handle your injury case. You don’t have to worry about a huge legal bill to secure a lawyer. A personal injury attorney will handle the entirety of your case on a contingency-fee basis, which means that you do not pay until after they win.
If you get compensation for your injury claim, the lawyer will be paid a percentage of the settlement or court verdict for their legal fees. If you do not win, you will not owe anything.
How to Respond to a Lowball Offer from the At-Fault Party’s Insurer
You will want to talk with your car accident attorney about what strategy to use if the insurer makes a lowball offer. If the filing deadline is approaching, it might be appropriate to respond by filing a lawsuit.
You should have a conversation with your lawyer early on about a range of fair compensation for your injuries and other losses. You will not want to respond to a lowball offer by making a counteroffer that is below your target range because you cannot go higher with your demand in a later offer.
You should do what makes sense in your situation. If you have a lawyer, they can negotiate on your behalf.
The Attorneys at Whitley Law Firm Can Fight Delays in Your Case
At the Whitley Law Firm, our clients enjoy the Whitley Advantage. The Whitley Advantage means that we really listen to them and treat them with care and compassion. When the insurance company uses bad faith tactics to devalue or deny claims, we fight with everything that is legally in our power to protect your right to compensation.
Let our family help your family. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation: (919) 785-5000. There is no obligation.