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How to react to claim adjuster's letter?

Los Angeles, CA |

This winter I was hit by a car on a pedestrian walk while visiting Los Angeles.
As I'm a foreigner, and didn't have any time till the end of July to search for a local LA attorney who'd agree to represent me distantly - gonna send out emails this week - I took a pause:
after reporting the accident to the driver's insurance company I did not give a recorded statement, and did not sign any insurance authorization (though they tried to make me do both) - just asked them in email to explain all my options about making a claim, and when they did so, thanked and said I'll contact them when I`ll be ready.
Since then they sent several emails, keeping asking me about my current health condition, and if I was ready to settle a claim, and, again, pushing to send them back their forms signed. These letters I just ignored.
Now, they sent me another one that says rather harshly that they would like to "close the file", and if they don't have a response from me till August Xth, the adjuster "will assume I'm not presenting a claim and will close his file".
I have already understood from what I read here that "closing the file" is an administrative formula used for threatening unrepresented claimants like me, and it doesn't actually mean I'm loosing my claim.
But - I'd like to ask, what's the best way now to react on the letter, not to cause any harm? -
to repeat politely that I`ll contact them when I`m ready, without giving any further details? (just to let them know that I didn`t vanish how they probably are hoping - as I`m not a US resident etc.)? Should I say that I`ll be represented by an attorney?
Or, again, just to ignore the letter, letting them close the file (if that intention is real) - and to avoid any correspondence at all (kinda impolite) until I get an attorney?
Thank you very much!

Yes, I already know about the 2 years term. And yes - there was a proper police report, the other party is at fault, and I had medical treatment following the accident. Again, my question for now is just how to/should I react to the particular claims adjuster`s letter about "closing the file" to not to do harm. Thank you for your attention!

Attorney Answers 18

  1. Were you injured? The answer to your question depends on whether you were injured or not.

    Direct Line to Attorney: 877-427-2752 or Email:; Website: I am licensed in California only and my answers on Avvo assume California law. Answers provided by me are for general information only. They are not legal advice. Answers must not be relied upon. Legal advice must be based on the interplay between specific exact facts and the law. This forum does not allow for the discussion of that interplay. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if that interplay were explored during an attorney-client relationship. I provide legal advice during the course of an attorney-client relationship only. The exchange of information through this forum does not establish such a relationship. That relationship is established only by personal and direct consultation with me followed by the execution of a written attorney-client agreement signed by each of us. The communications on this website are not privileged or confidential and I assume no duty to anyone by my participation on Avvo or because I have answered or commented on a question. All legal proceedings involve deadlines and time limiting statutes. So that legal rights are not lost for failure to timely take appropriate action and because I do not provide legal advice in answer to any question, if you are an interested party you should promptly and personally consult with an attorney for legal advice. Also, see Avvo's terms and conditions of use, specifically item 9, incorporated by this reference

  2. Just tell them you are presenting a claim but not ready to settle the case at this time. I would suggest that you retain an experienced personal attorney to represent you. Did you get any medical treatment? Are you done treating? Are you ready to settle your case? Was there a police report? Did you get a copy of it? Is the other party at fault? More information is needed to give you more advice. Remember, the statute of limitations in California for personal injury claims is two years from the date of accident unless a government entity is involved as a defendant. If so, you must make a formal claim against them within six months of the accident.

    Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as” are not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.

  3. You need to immediately retain a personal injury attorney who can handle these types of communications with claims adjusters as well as obtain compensation for you.

  4. In California, you have 2 years from the date of the incident to bring a personal injury claim. Simply tell the insurance company that you are pursuing a personal injury claim but need more time to discuss settlement. In the meantime, you can use the Avvo “Find a Lawyer” option above to search for personal injury lawyers or the State Bar website at Good luck.

    This information is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship between you and any attorney. Such information is intended for general informational purposes only.

  5. Regardless of the content of any letter from an insurance company and regardless of what an insurance company does internally with a claim file, your claim persists under the applicable statute of limitations. For personal injury in CA against a non-governmental defendant, that time limit is 2 years from the date of the injury (the date accident). Meaning that a lawsuit must be filed within that time period and on the second anniversary, the right to sue is gone. Against governmental entities, a claim typically must be filed within 6 months. Therefore you can ignore their letter.

    As stated above, this is an incomplete answer but an attempt to provide a cursory overview of a subject that attorneys 'practice' and improve upon during the entirety of their legal careers. This response is not meant as legal advice or as a legal opinion. Such advice would be impossible or impractical without additional information and more facts giving rise to the question. A consultation with an attorney is necessary.

  6. Tell them you are retaining a local personal injury lawyer.

  7. You are correct when you state the letter is an adminstrative formula. You also started out by saying you were going to reach out and find a lawyer. Now is the time to do that. You will end up doing much better by hiriing a lawyer to represent you for this matter.

    Good luck.

  8. Immediately contact a local personal injury attorney & let that attorney deal with the insurance adjuster - the adjuster is not there to help you, I know since I used to trail adjusters. Consult an attorney ASAP - you have waited too long already. Best wishes

    This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.

  9. Your accident and injuries are still relatively fresh and may not be ripe for settlement for a while. You do have to keep in mind the statute of limitations within which you must settle your claim or file suit.

    You need not further corresponded with the adjuster. If he closes the file and you bring a claim later, they will reopen the file.

    You should obtain needed medical care and treatment immediately and follow the doctor's advice. Do not give any statement to the adverse party or insurance company nor grant them access to any medical records. Photograph the injuries and the damage done to any property. Contact a personal injury attorney in your area as soon as possible so that you can protect your rights. You may also find it helpful to review the Legal Guides I have published on dealing with many of the issues you are now facing. The Guides can be accessed through my profile page on

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

  10. Insurance companies will practically say anything to get you to settle the claim. Just tell them you are looking for a personal injury attorney to represent you in the case. To verify, you were struck by a third party, non-governmental entity. I only state this because the statute of limitations regarding a government entity in the State of California is different from an individual. I have over 20 years handling pedestrian and automobile accidents in Los Angeles, working with over 2,000 clients, and I understand how the adjusters want to play you. As you implied in your disclosure, you need to hire an attorney to evaluate your case and advise you further. Avvo has a wonderful, "Ask a Lawyer," feature that may suit you well as you can read countless reviews of outstanding attorneys. I hope that your recovery is going well and I wish you the best of luck.

  11. Get a lawyer. Or initiate an action to settle your case. Best of luck.

    This answer is provided by California Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., 510-206-4492. Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492. Abogado de Lesiones de Accidentes de Autos, provides answers of a general context. These answers are not intended to form an attorney client relationship. Oakland Abogado Accidentes Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Accidentes de carros, Abogado de accidentes de Peatones, practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, is licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.

  12. Dear Unrepresented Claimant,

    I would keep the lines of communication open. Send another email referencing the harsh letter by date and inform them to keep the claim open while you retain an attorney. Good luck. I think most attorneys would jump on your case given that you have done a portion of the work.

    Your Welcome,

    Mike J.

    -Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.

  13. First of all, I'm sorry that this happened to you. The best thing you can do is hire a personal injury attorney here in California to represent you and the attorney should contact the insurance company and let them know that you are now represented and now they will have to work with the attorney. The insurance company is trying to bully you into settling your case for the lowest amount possible, but clients who are represented by an attorney typically obtain better results than if they attempt to handle it themselves.

  14. As scary as the letter may sound, you are not forced to submit a claim to the insurance company right now. The adjuster's statement has no legal basis. You can submit a claim to the insurance company as long as you are within the statute of limitations. Just to be professional, you can let the adjuster know that you will be contacting him shortly through your attorney. Good luck!

  15. I would recommend obtaining an attorney as soon as possible and having the attorney resume discussions with the adjuster. You are correct that your claim appears to have a 2 year statute of limitations. However, some causes of action has a one year statute of limitations (or even six month). Although unlikely, to be safe, I would retain an attorney as soon as possible to review your claim to avoid any statute of limitations issues.

    The information on this post is for general information purposes only. Nothing should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

  16. Adjusters, like all paper pushers, have to keep the paper moving. So as a common courtesy it would be good of you to respond in some maner. Their greatest wish is to encounter an unrepresented claimant who has no idea of his or her rights. If you're not going to hire an attorney then my advice would be to present them with a well-consrtucted demand letter which is supported with ehibits comprised of medical bills, diagnostics, treatment, and so on. Then of course you wil want to inform them that you are entitled to "pain and suffering" , which is a broad term that encompasses lots of things like grief, shock, humiliateion, morf=tification ,inability to sleep, persistent headaches, and so on.
    So you will finally provide them with a figure which represents what you are willing to "compromise and release" all further claims against their insured for. Aim higher than you expect to get, knowing that they are going to chisel you down.


    Just hire a local attorney to handle it for you. It is a fact that attorneys get far better settlemeents in these situations than individuals trying to settle heir own claims,

  17. I wouldn't worry about the insurance company closing your claim. When you retain a lawyer, they will just have to reopen the claim. However, you should call a lawyer immediately. You are somewhat mistaken about the two-year term. It is called a statute of limitations and while you may be able to file a lawsuit within that time, there are other shorter time periods which could be missed. I am licensed in New York, so I can't speak for California but in New York, some other filing deadlines are 30 days and 90 days.

    Additionally, many lawyers will not want to take your case with only a few months left to the statute of limitations. You have nothing to gain by waiting to retain a lawyer.

    If you are thinking of trying to settle the claim yourself, you are fooling yourself if you think you will save money. With a lawyer, you will end up with more money after paying legal fees than you could get on your own.

    I broke my nose in a car accident and could not get an offer more than 25% of what I knew the injury was worth, even though I'm an experienced personal injury lawyer. I actually had to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent me!

    My answer is for general information purposes and I do not give legal advice without a personal consultation. I am only licensed to practice law in the State of New York

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