How Much Time Do Insurance Companies Have To Investigate Car Accidents: Philadelphia Accident Lawyer Explains
Being involved in a car accident is most people’s worst nightmare. It ruins your day, and could potentially ruin your life if the accident is serious enough. Thankfully, you have insurance and so does the other party involved. But how long do they have to investigate your claims, and how long will it take to receive the damages you deserve?
This might seem like it should be cut-and-dry. You’re involved in an accident, you report it to the insurance company, they do their paperwork, and send you a check. Right? Well, in a perfect world, maybe. But oftentimes the investigation process on the other side can take some time, and there are cases in which the insurance companies decide that they don’t feel they need to pay out, for whatever reason. When this happens, you want to make sure you have an experienced Philadelphia Accident Lawyer at your side.
What It Means When a Claim Is “Under Investigation”
Wasn’t being in the accident stressful enough? Now you hear that your claim for damages is “under investigation,” and you’re wondering if you’re ever going to see the money to cover the damage to your car, your ever-mounting medical bills, and the lost wages from the time that you couldn’t go to work! Your first step should be to hire a personal injury lawyer so that you know your case is being represented in the strongest way possible.
However, you should also know that when a claim is under investigation, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily unlikely that you won’t receive damages, or that you are already starting out the claims process by people thinking you’re untrustworthy. When an insurance company investigates a claim, they’re simply doing their job. All claims are investigated because, unfortunately, there are insurance frauders out there who try and milk the system for money that they don’t deserve. So, although it’s true that hiring an attorney is in your best interest to get the most money out of your settlement, you don’t have to feel that hiring an attorney will make it seem like you “needed” legal help to support your claim. An insurance company is a business, after all, and they aren’t simply going to throw money at whoever asks for it.
That being said, they know that you want the case settled as quickly as possible because you need to get that money back into your hands to begin paying your vehicle repair bills, medical costs, and rental car fees. So, they will play their side of the game to delay things and persuade you to accept their low-balled offer as soon as they give it, but your professional, experienced attorney will know when what they are offering isn’t what you deserve, and how to move the process along as fast as possible. An insurance company would much rather deal with a “layperson,” but you want them to deal with a legal expert.
One of the things that the insurance company will be doing when they interview you is gathering information about how a jury will feel or respond to your claim if your case goes to trial. If they think you’re a sympathetic victim, they might be more likely to settle with you out of court because it’s risky to take you in front of a jury—they could end up paying much more than what you’re originally asking for. Your lawyer will be able to help you decide how to respond—albeit always truthfully—when the adjuster is asking certain questions.
In Pennsylvania, an insurance company first has 10 days to acknowledge your claim. At this acknowledgment, the company should also send you (the policyholder) paperwork, including proof of loss forms and instructions for providing all the required information. This documentation is considered a sworn statement about what damages were incurred and the injuries sustained.
Then, the company has up to 15 days to settle a car insurance claim, when you are making the claim through your own insurance carrier. If you were the one injured and you are making a claim to the guilty or negligent party’s insurance carrier, then they will probably want to investigate the incident to make sure that they aren’t paying out for something they don’t have to. In cases like this, the company still has 10 days to acknowledge receipt of the accident report, and then they have 30 days to make a decision or settle.
This countdown begins as soon as you report the incident and the insurance carrier acknowledges receipt. Their final response must be official, in writing. However, they might ask for additional time to continue their investigation. If they do this, there must be a valid reason for their extension, and they are required to give an updated status every 45 days.
If the car accident itself was severe, or there were extenuating circumstances involving the situation, such as both parties being somewhat at fault or there being prolonged injuries, then the insurance company could take a lot longer to settle. Remember, too, that the insurance company will be investigating not only the accident itself and the circumstances surrounding the accident but the coverage of both parties involved.
How Long It Takes to Receive Payments in Philadelphia
If a claim has been accepted, there isn’t a specific timeline that the insurance company needs to cut you a check. They could also send your settlement in pieces over time if the agreement allows for it. Depending on how the settlement was organized, claim payouts for different parts of the case might come at different times, for example, medical bills first and pain and suffering later.
You also might not get the information about how much you’ll be receiving altogether. Oftentimes, a car insurance claim has separate parts to the settlement, such as the medical bills and damage to the vehicle. You might get the settlement amount for the personal property damage sooner than the medical damages and pain and suffering because the latter could take longer to resolve and determine.
To prevent delayed payments, there are a few things you can do. First of all, make sure that you respond to any requests for information quickly and accurately. You don’t want your case to be held up simply because of a clerical error on your part. You should also be at the ready with copies of all important documentation, such as police reports, pictures of the accident scene and your car, medical bills and diagnoses, documentation from your employer about lost wages, etc.
If you’ve hired an attorney, they can help you determine whether the information that the claims adjuster is asking for is valid or not. The claims adjuster from the insurance company (whether you’re filing with your own or the other party’s) should be in contact with you regularly and frequently. If not, you can always reach out to them as well (this is another place where having an attorney is helpful) to make sure that things are moving along at the speed which you should expect.
Insurance Claim Denials in Philadelphia
If your or the third-party insurance company denies your claim, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. You have the right to an official letter describing the reasons for the denial. If this doesn’t satisfy your desires and what you believe you deserve, you can reach out to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and file an internal appeal. You may also choose to go forward with a lawsuit to prove your case and receive compensation, whether it is for property damages or personal injury.
This is just one of the places where you will truly benefit from hiring a Philadelphia Accident Attorney. Pursuing litigation and dealing with insurance companies who don’t want to pay out is something best left to the professionals, as they have experience with what needs to be said and done to get positive results. It’s not that you aren’t capable, it’s that you deserve to have someone take care of you so you can concentrate on your healing and recovering after all you’ve suffered in your car accident.
Pennsylvania law allows for the denied claimant to pursue a “bad faith” lawsuit, as well. This means that you and your attorneys believe that the insurance company is denying your claim even though all the evidence should point to you receiving damages without a doubt. If this happens and the bad faith claim is proved, you should receive the originally requested settlement amount as well as any interest (for the time it took the case to be settled) and penalties.
Call Today For A Free Case Evaluation From An Experienced Philadelphia Accident Lawyer
When you report your car accident claim, you might feel as if you’re sitting on pins and needles waiting for the decision to come in. If you have hired a seasoned Philadelphia Accident Lawyer who is used to dealing with car insurance claims in Pennsylvania, you can rest easy (and concentrate on getting your life back together) because you know that they have your case handled.
Reach out to us at Mattiacci Law if you’ve been involved in a car accident and we will care for your case as if it were our own. You deserve to be compensated appropriately for your losses, damages, pain, and suffering, and we will make sure you aren’t taken for another ride.