Sometimes, my clients get very frustrated with how long it takes to get a settlement offer from the insurance company. Generally speaking, the more complicated the case and the higher the settlement demand, the longer it takes for the insurance company to respond.
If your claim is only for several thousand dollars, then the insurance company for the other party will probably respond fairly quickly, usually within two weeks or so. Sometimes it can take about 30-45 days. If your claim exceeds $100,000, you can expect a much longer delay, because the insurance adjuster usually doesn’t have the authority to settle for that kind of amount without checking with a multitude of supervisors. Those supervisors generally need to check with their supervisors as your demand gets higher. After all, if they’re going to pay “that kind of money,” they better have darn good reasons for doing so – or else their jobs are on the line! They need to document and support why they are paying you so much in settlement. They don’t just write checks out of the goodness of their hearts.
For most clients, their case is “obviously” worth $X, but it’s not so obvious to the insurance companies. Remember, insurance companies deal on a daily basis with a whole bunch of crooks and scam artists out there who are trying to game and cheat the system. They generally view you as that kind of person until you prove them otherwise. The burden is on you to show them that your case is legitimate and not one of those scams that they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Also, keep in mind that insurance adjusters deal with about 200 cases at any given time. While your case might be the only case you were dealing with, it is only one of hundreds for them. It generally takes longer for some cases than others. Remember, a human being is processing your case. Some human beings are faster than others, and it sometimes depends on the luck of the draw as to who is handling your case.
I’ve had cases where getting the insurance adjuster to return my call is nothing short of a miracle. They are sitting at their desk staring at Facebook all day. I have other cases where the insurance adjusters are very much on the ball and very professional about their job. They are the adjusters who “get it.” They are not trying to nickel and dime anyone. Many adjusters do a fair and consistently good job.
Also, in many cases it is helpful to wait a little bit longer in order to get a good settlement for your case. Some of my clients grow frustrated and want to file a lawsuit right away. They want me to call and yell at the adjusters! That’s what they’ve seen on TV – lawyers yelling at people. Long ago, I got fired because my client did not think I was mean enough to the other party! That Is not necessarily the best thing to do because it often antagonizes the other party and makes them dig their heels in the sand. There are times when it does make sense to file that lawsuit, but you better be ready for the repercussions of doing so. Why would I want to anger the person who is writing my client a check?
I generally don’t file a lawsuit unless I’m convinced that I have exhausted other diplomatic means of settling the case. If the adjuster is simply taking too long, that is not necessarily in and of itself a reason to file a lawsuit. However, you should not let things get too close to the statute of limitations deadline.
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by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,