I was in an auto accident and the other driver was deemed to be at fault. It has been over a month and I have not received payment for damages from his insurance company. Does it seem reasonable that it should take this long? How long should I wait?
The key issue is what you mean by "deemed" to be at fault. If you mean that the police cited him, that is helpful but not the end of the case by any means. If you were injured, it is WAY to early to settle your case. You property damage to your car should probably be settled by now but I would not chat with them about your injuries yet. It can take years for this process to work and ususally requires an attorney to be taken seriously. You should not just sit back and "wait" either because the insurance company will do nothing until you do something. You should see lawyer now--you have only three years in Washington to file a lawsuit if one is needed. But realize the insurance company makes money by hoping you do nothing and three years pass and it's over. So see a lawyer and make a claim, then focus on getting better and get your medical bills paid through your own auto coverage (PIP or No Fault Medical) or your health insurance while you wait on the bad guy's insurance to get real.
I agree with the previous answer but would add that you should speak with your insurance agent about getting the damage to your car repaired now. Most insurance companies will pay for this for their insureds and then simply seek reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company (a process known as “subrogation”). This would be a much quicker way to get your car fixed. If you not primarily at fault for the accident, your insurance company generally will not raise your coverage rates (check with your agent). As mentioned before, if you were injured, it is best to contact an attorney for advice and representation. If you find one now, the attorney may help you speed up the process for getting your car repaired.
The above are all excellent answers. Here’s my two cents on auto accident claims based on my experiences as an insurance defense attorney.
Insurance companies frequently drag their feet. There’s not a lot of incentive for someone else’s insurance company to pay you for your damages absent the threat of a lawsuit.
The person who ran into you (defendant) was insured, thank goodness. In a nutshell, the defendant’s insurance company is obligated to protect their client from lawsuits. The safest way for them to do that in your case, is to put you into the position you were in immediately before the accident. This means that your car should be repaired or replaced, and you should be compensated for any pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and other expenses related to the accident.
I generally advise that my clients not settle a claim until I have identified all of the damages related to the accident, and my client has either recovered or has stabilized and is not likely to improve further.
Back to your carí¢â‚¬¦ You are entitled to either have your car fixed or replaced, depending on which option costs less. Most insurance companies will send an adjuster to assess the cost to repair your car and the fair market value of the vehicle before the accident. They do this by referring to NADA, Blue Book, and local classified ads. A letter from a lawyer goes a long way helping get your car fixed. So does a letter to the insurance commission, or a call from your insurance company.
Without seeing your insurance policy, I can’t tell you what kind of coverage you have. Your carrier may be responsible for replacing your car. They would always prefer that you go after the defendant’s carrier, but as pointed out above, your carrier can always pay and then go after defendant, if you have coverage.
You should also know that you can take your car to any autobody shop to have them take a look at it. Sometimes a private shop is more thorough than those beholden to the insurance companies. Some insurance shops keep prices down so that insurance companies will send more business to them.
Whatever you do, don’t settle your case without first speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney. Good luck.
Let me just add to the other two good opinions: one of the best ways to light a fire under an insurance company that is dragging its feet in processing a claim, is to write a complaint letter to the State Insurance Department. The Department will forward the letter to the insurance company and ask for their written response. That will get their attention and make something happen.
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