Why Would an Insurance Company Wait a Long Time to Settle?

Posted on behalf of Henness & Haight on Nov 18, 2014 in Insurance News

In many instances, the insurance company will be graciously quick to offer a fair settlement offer. Sometimes this may take hiring a personal injury attorney to bring about action, but in other situations, the insurance company and the plaintiff may simply see eye-to-eye in a reasonable manner. Generally speaking, a large portion of contested insurance claims will be resolved two or three months after the plaintiff has fully recovered from injuries. Other times, when an attorney is necessary and the insurance company seems reluctant to offer an appropriate settlement, the case may go on longer than expected. Here are some of the most common factors that would cause a case to drag on.

Your Injuries Are Not Objectively Quantifiable

Before a settlement can be reached, both sides must be in agreement about the total damages. In a personal injury case, this number will be reflected by the overall cost of recovery care, which might include aspects such as lost wages or emotional distress damages. The biggest reason that an objective number for your treatment cannot be assessed is that you have not fully healed. Many insurance companies and legal systems are uncomfortable with health care projections, as these numbers can vary greatly from the actual amount. Instead, many plaintiffs will benefit from waiting to fully heal from their injuries or to reach a point in treatment called "maximum medical improvement" or MMI. MMI is the point where you cannot progress any further from treatment. It is distinguished from fully-healed in many instances because sometimes an injury will result in permanent effects that cannot be treated by medicine, such as partial immobility. Waiting until you can point to a concrete number on your doctor's bills will make the factual accuracy of your claim harder to dispute.

The Legal Standing of a Case or Factual Statements are Being Contested

Sometimes, an insurance company will feel that they have a strong case against the plaintiff and they will drag the legal process out as long as possible. This action will be prompted by either a legal gray area concerning your argument or something vague surrounding your version of events. Having a qualified lawyer in these instances is absolutely crucial. If the insurance company believes they have no reason to fear a plaintiff's strength of argument, they will have little incentive to bend. For instance, some insurance companies will refuse to offer a settlement while a judge reviews the plaintiff's right to sue. Once the judge decides that the case can move forward, the insurance companies may realize that they have less of a secure standing and they will make a settlement offer. Likewise, when an accident occurs without concrete evidence or solidly-reliable witnesses, the insurance companies may yet again feel brave and they can drag the process on through to a jury trial before even considering settling. The key factor is establishing liability. If an insurance company can debate the question of liability long enough by either disputing evidence or legal standing, the settlement terms or final ruling may take longer to be reached. The nature of personal injury claims makes having an experienced attorney to represent you a veritable necessity. Without someone with the knowledge and expertise to reveal the legal or circumstantial facts in a convincing manner, an insurance company may feel bold and reluctant to put forth a fair offer.