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How Long Does It Take To Make A Claim?
The answer to this question is: it depends. If your injury is significant and there is only a small amount of insurance money (say around $25,000 or $50,000), the settlement could happen quite quickly. In fact, in many situations, the insurance companies, once they learn of the severity of the injury, are actually calling us to see if they can pay their policy limits and settle the case. Honestly, in these cases, you really don’t need an attorney to receive insurance money (you would probably benefit from having one, though, for other reasons, such as negotiating medical bills or medicaid liens). In situations where your injury is not as severe, or where the policy limits are high (say $100,000 or more), then the claim will generally take longer to resolve. In these cases, we wait to see what the full scope of your medical treatment is. We wait until we have all of your medical bills. If the treatment looks like it will extend into the future, we will ask your doctor to give us an opinion letter outlining the expected costs of those procedures. In certain cases, we will also send our client for a medical examination to see what level of impairment they might have.
Now, sometimes your treatment might end fairly quick, say 2-3 months. Sometimes, it can take over a year. Sometimes over two years. It really depends on the nature of your injury and the medical treatment you get. Generally speaking, cases involving a “soft tissue” injury resolve quicker than cases involving an “objective” injury, or one that can be seen on an X-ray or MRI.
So once we have a handle on your case, we will package up all the documentation regarding it and send it to the insurance adjuster with a demand for fair payment. (You should keep in mind that almost all injury cases – especially car accident cases – involve an insurance company.) The case at that point is in “negotiation.” In the demand, we ask the adjuster to contact us within 15 days. We will usually will get a response to our demand back in 2-3 weeks. The negotiation can sometimes go very quickly or can drag on for a while. It can go quick if the insurance company comes to the table with what we feel is an above-average offer for that kind of case. And you should know that this is the goal that we have for our clients: to get them fair value for the injury they experienced. It is not to get them a million dollars, unless that is the fair value of their case.
In our negotiation, we never accept the first offer from the insurance company. The only exception is when offer to pay the maximum amount of the policy (which does happen if the case is worth that amount). Once we receive the first offer, we continue our negotiation by making a counter-offer. The insurance company then responds with their counter-offer, and so forth. Depending on how easy it is to contact the adjuster, this process might take a few days (if it goes quickly), or if the adjuster is hard to contact, weeks.
In situations where the insurance company is paying less than what we feel is fair value, then the whole process will take longer. As a consumer, you need to be wary of attorneys that tell you they will get you money fast. What this means is that they (or what is the more likely case, their non-lawyer “negotiator) are going to take the first or second offer from the insurance company and settle the case there.
However, in cases where the insurance is offering less than fair value, the negotiation will usually take 1-2 months to get the settlement into the “fair” range. Sometimes longer. The bottom line is that you usually will not get to the “fair” offer in only 1-2 rounds of negotiation. And sometimes we never get in negotiation to what we feel is fair. In those situations, we will either arbitrate the case or request a jury trial.
Other questions? Call us at: 1-866-696-2129