Asked 11 months ago - Seattle, WAFlag
I was hit on my motorcycle by a teenage driver on the freeway at ~60MPH. I thankfully only sustained relatively minor injuries--considering the circumstances. The other driver was deemed fully responsible for the accident and his insurance company accepted full liability. It's been almost a year since the accident and though they've paid me for damaged property, I've yet to receive compensation for medical bills nor an offer for pain and suffering. Allstate (the responsible drivers insurance) still states they're awaiting medical records, though it's clear to me they're dragging their feet. I made my own phone calls to my medical providers and found that Allstate either hadn't sent in requests for medical records or they were sent out to incorrect addresses. What should I do?
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The time limit on filing a case in court is called a statute of limitations. Although I am licensed only in Massachusetts and New Hampshire my understanding is that the statute of limitation on motor vehicle accident claims in Washington State is 3 years. [Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 4.16.005 et seq.]
The insurance companies in general are part of the financial services sector of the economy. They do not return a profit if they settle cases by "throwing money around" as one insurance employee told me just the other day. They do make money the more they delay, deny and defend all claims, not just yours.
Here is an article on what happens to people who represent themselves:
The statute of limitations in Washington State for negligence is three years from the date of the crash. It can be frustrating waiting for an offer, but it will be worse if you settle your claim before you have fully recovered and your injuries turn out to be worse than you thought.
It's a good idea to at least consult with an attorney before trying to resolve this on your own. Most lawyers will provide a free consultation. The insurance company's delay may be the least of your worries.
To answer your specific questions:
1. Is there some sort of time limit on filing a lawsuit?
In short, you likely have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
2. Is there a time limit in which Allstate must settle their liability to me?
There isn't a hard and fast time limit by which another driver's insurer must settle a claim. However, the Washington Administrative Code prescribes various settlement-related standards to which all insurers must adhere. I've pasted a link to the relevant chapter of the Code:
3. What can I do to get to the Allstate case workers to get their act together?
As others have mentioned, you could retain counsel. I know that it's sometimes tough to believe, but a competent attorney really can add a lot of value to this process, including by speeding things along and maximizing one's recovery.
If you aren't ready or inclined to retain counsel, you could submit a complaint to the Washington State Insurance Commissioner. Usually, the Insurance Commissioner will notify the insurer about the complaint and ask it to respond by a date certain. So, such a complaint would unquestionably get Allstate's attention, and it might help to move things along a bit. I've pasted a link to the Insurance Commissioner's webste below:
Best of luck with your claim, and sorry to hear about the hassle.
In my experience - including having worked as both a claims adjuster and insurance defense lawyer years ago - when an insurance company proceeds as you describe their hope is that you won't hire counsel and will allow the three-year statute of limitations to go by without filing a lawsuit; in which event you would lose the ability to pursue the claim altogether. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact that you (by inference) provided them with a medical authorization and yet they haven't used it to request the very medical records they would need in order to evaluate the case and extend an offer. You need to timely retain counsel for this reason, and also so that you have an objective source of information as to what the case is worth.
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