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Welcome to March IAN readers. Is Spring finally in the air. As I write this – it’s a balmy -1 degrees in Chicago, so not so much Spring days, but hopefully soon.

Many times I have calls from my clients and potential clients who desire a speedy resolution to an accident claim. It can be frustrating to wait on your insurance company’s making decisions on a claim and often times the silence from an Insurance company is deafening. In this month’s article, I’ll cover why insurance companies may be taking longer than expected to respond to your claim and some things you can do if your insurance company is stalling.

In my experience, insurance companies rarely if ever respond to claimants who are not represented by an attorney. For an insurance company to take you and your claim seriously my initial advice, is to hand your case over to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.

If an insurance company does in fact engage with you as regards your claim or even goes so far as to make some sort of settlement offer, it is even more reason to engage an experienced personal injury attorney such as myself. You can be assured if an insurance company is offering you money, I can bet my house, it is not enough and is far from adequate or reasonable compensation for your injuries.

All of my consultations are free and even when you do engage with me on a case, my fee is contingent on me being able to recover some monies for you, so the payment of a fee, a retainer or paying hourly rates, should never be a deterrent to you in making a call if you have been injured and need some advice.  

When an insurance company puts off settling or responding to a claim, it typically does so for one of three reasons:
• It is waiting on additional documentation such as your medical records or the accident report;
• It suspects you filed a fraudulent claim and wants to investigate it more in depth;
• It is garnering more information to assist them to minimize the value of your claim, such as an opinion from a doctor that you are not injured to the extent you say you are;
• It is acting in bad faith.  
Determine if the Company is, in Fact, Stalling
If insurance companies could decide all the rules, they would never be obligated to pay claims. Without the legal system, Insurers really have no incentive to ever settle a claim. Even under the law, they work hard to take years to pay out claims. Fortunately, there are state laws in place that require insurers to respond to injury claims. Most states require insurance companies to acknowledge a claim within 10 to 30 days and to either reject or deny it within 30 to 40 days. Bear in mind that state laws vary, and some states do not have time limitations in place. The best thing to do in this case would be to consult with a knowledgeable attorney to determine if your insurance company is stalling—and if so, what you can do to speed up the settlement process.

Do Your Part
If your insurance company is stalling, there are a few things you can do on your own to help keep the ball moving. For one, you can organize all your records from the accident and keep them in one, easy to access location. Insurance adjusters are notorious for misplacing important documents or failing to request documentation in the first place. If the insurance adjuster then maintains they are missing any document, you will have it all in one place and can offer to send it over right away. Some documents you should hold onto include the following:
• Photos from the accident;
• Reports from the police;
• Medical records;
• Vehicle Repair estimates;
• Witnesses’ contact
   information;
• Witness statements.

You should also keep minutes of all the telephone conversations you have with agents of the insurance company, along with the names of agents you spoke with and call times. Print any email communications for your own benefit and request copies of every document the agent has available or makes reference too.  

Another thing you can do is, cooperate. If you have a claim against your own insurance company, you have a legal, contractual obligation to cooperate with them. You should supply them with information they request and do so in a timely fashion.

Things are treated somewhat differently, when your claim is against another party and you are dealing with the insurer for the other party.  As I have said before, remember they do not work for you and they are not your friend and so you should be very careful in how you deal with them and what you tell them. Always be vigilant that they can and will use information to take advantage of you if possible. In my opinion, your contact with the insurance company for a third party should be very minimal, which is another reason why you should engage an experienced personal injury attorney from the beginning.  

What you should absolutely not do is give the insurance company for a third party a recorded statement.  This is a common request at the very beginning of a claim. Don’t agree to it, you are not obliged to give it and don’t let them convince you otherwise. Insurance agents will initially appear genuinely concerned for your wellbeing. They are not!  What you say in a recorded statement in the days and weeks after a car accident will be forever written down. The insurance company will use your own words against you in the future.  Insurance adjusters are highly skilled and trained to ask questions that will benefit them, not you. My best advice when you get that call, is to be polite, refrain from giving a statement and refer them to your lawyer.  Once you have a lawyer, insurance companies are not allowed to contact you directly.

If you suspect your insurance company of stalling in bad faith, or if you are just tired of waiting for your claim to settle, it may be time to enlist the help of a knowledgeable attorney. Contact me at Dwyer & Coogan to discuss your options for a speedy recovery today.

Caroleann Gallagher is an Irish born Attorney practicing all types of personal injury law – including medical malpractice law, nursing home litigation, wrongful death claims, transportation injuries, premises liability claims, defective produce claims, construction site injuries and Workers Compensation. She can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 312-543-4642

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