4 Things That Delay Personal Injury Settlements | Kisling, Nestico & Redick
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It can be particularly frustrating to wait on a personal injury settlement when you are in pain, struggling with medical bills, and possibly unable to work.
Written by
KNR Legal
Date posted
August 23, 2023

Whether it’s a car crash, slip and fall, or dog bite, accidents can be traumatic, both physically and emotionally. The ensuing legal process can also add to this stress, especially when you were hurt by no fault of your own and need the compensation you deserve.

One added complication is when the insurance settlement process suddenly stalls. While patience is a virtue, and it can take time to negotiate a fair outcome, it can be particularly frustrating to wait on a personal injury settlement when you are in pain, struggling with medical bills, and possibly unable to work. Hopefully, you can gain some clarity by understanding the reasons behind these delays. It may also help reveal when a delay isn’t legitimate, and it’s time to pursue legal action.

As experienced Ohio injury lawyers, the Kisling, Nestico & Redick team deals with insurance companies daily. We know when delays are legit and when stall tactics are being used. We’ve delved into the most common delays in personal injury settlements and provided some insight into what’s holding up your settlement.

Why is Your Injury Settlement Taking So Long?

It’s a common misconception that insurance companies will promptly and willingly pay out the compensation you deserve. The reality is more complex. Large insurance companies are known to drag their feet in paying out.

While a two- or three-weeks delay might be reasonable, anything beyond a month requires scrutiny. If you suspect an insurance company is not taking your claim seriously, it’s best to contact a lawyer immediately.

Here are the most common reasons for your insurance settlement might be delayed:

1. Insurance Company Bureaucracy

Large insurance companies are primarily focused on profitability rather than paying out even valid claims. Insurance companies make money by charging premiums, investing them, and getting returns from those investments. Claims are a cost – the higher their costs, the lower their profits.

To achieve higher profits, they have intricate processes in place:

  • Multiple Levels of Review: Before your compensation is approved, various departments within the insurance company review it. For instance, a policy clearance department ensures the settlement doesn’t violate company policy.
  • Delayed Disbursement: Once the compensation is approved, another department dispatches the funds. This can often take time.

Internal Insurance Delays

Imagine you’re waiting for a settlement after another driver rear-ends you. After you submit your claim, it undergoes multiple checks – like confirming the policy covers your losses, the value of your losses, legal compliance, and finally, dispatching the funds. Even in this simplified scenario, it’s easy to see how a delay can happen when multiple departments in who knows how many locations are involved.

2. The Human Element to Insurance Settlements

Settlement processes involve real people, and like all of us, they, too, face unexpected challenges:

  • You might inadvertently delay the process by not promptly signing and returning crucial documents.
  • The adjuster or supervisor in charge of your case could face personal emergencies, illness, or other reasons for absence.
  • External calamities or disasters might redirect the company’s resources elsewhere, causing temporary neglect of routine accident claims.

3. Insurance Company Bad Faith

Unfortunately, sometimes a delay in paying out your insurance settlement isn’t accidental. There are instances where insurance companies resort to unnecessary and tedious procedures to avoid or reduce payouts. This is called “Bad faith,” which refers to deceptive behavior or dishonest actions by insurance companies.

When an insurance company acts in bad faith, they violate the trust and legal agreements they have with their clients. Some signs or indicators of insurance bad faith include:

  • Unwarranted Denial: The insurer denies a valid claim without a legitimate reason.
  • Unreasonable Delays: Deliberate stalling or unnecessary delays in evaluating or paying a claim.
  • Insufficient Settlement Offer: Offering a much lower amount than what the claim is objectively worth.
  • Failure to Investigate: Not conducting a proper or thorough investigation into a claim.
  • Misrepresenting Policy Language: Distorting or twisting policy language or terms to avoid paying a claim.
  • Refusing to Settle: An insurer might refuse to settle a claim even if the evidence suggests their policyholder is at fault, forcing the claimant to go to court.
  • Making Threats: Using intimidation or threats to dissuade a claimant from pursuing their claim.

Proving bad faith requires evidence of dishonest intentions, fraud, or deliberate wrongdoing, beyond mere negligence or oversight. If you suspect an insurance company is intentionally stalling, lowballing you, or issuing an unjustified denial, it’s time to contact a lawyer.

Insurance Bad Faith In Action

Suppose you were injured in a collision with a commercial truck and filed a claim with the trucking company’s insurance, expecting it to cover your medical bills and provide compensation for your totaled vehicle.

However, despite clear evidence that the driver was at fault, the insurance company offered a settlement that didn’t cover half of her medical expenses. To add insult to injury, they even questioned the extent of your injuries and implied that your car’s pre-existing condition contributed to the extent of the damage.

With legal help, you can likely confirm that the insurance company failed to perform a thorough investigation. As a result, they didn’t speak to the truck driver or review the accident report. By pursuing a bad faith lawsuit, the insurance company will usually realize its failings and reconsider its stance.

This may lead to a full and fair offer to cover your losses and additional compensation for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience caused by the accident and the insurance company’s improper handling of your claim.

4. Incomplete Medical Records & Treatment

In some cases, the full extent of injuries only becomes apparent after significant time passes. It’s essential to have comprehensive medical records to determine the total damages. The insurance company might wait for a clearer picture of potential future costs if treatment is ongoing.

For example, if you hurt your neck in an auto accident but neglected to go to the doctor or follow up with treatment. Even if there’s significant damage, it gets easier for the insurance claim to diminish the value of your claim if there are limited records of its severity.

Other Factors That May Delay an Insurance Settlement

  • The Severity of Your Injuries: If injuries are severe, it can take a while to reach “maximum medical improvement.” This means that your condition has stabilized enough to assess damages accurately.
  • Multiple Parties Involved: The liability often gets divided when an accident involves more than two parties. Determining each party’s degree of fault can complicate and lengthen negotiations.
  • Dispute Over Liability If the opposing party disputes fault or argues that the victim was partly (or entirely) responsible, it can delay a settlement.
  • Missing or Contested Evidence: Evidential issues can slow the process, like missing documents, witnesses being unavailable, or contested pieces of evidence.
  • Legal or Factual Complications: If your case has unique legal issues or complex facts that need extensive research or investigation, it could delay the settlement process.

When to Seek Professional Legal Help

If you believe the delay in your settlement is unjustified or suspect the insurance company isn’t acting in good faith, it’s crucial to consult an attorney. While some internal bureaucracy and red tape are to be expected to a degree, your ability to deal with the aftermath of an accident should be a priority. Delays can be costly and painful, so it’s best to get an attorney involved as soon as possible after any injury caused by negligence.

At Kisling, Nestico & Redick, we strive to efficiently get our clients through the insurance claim process and ensure they receive maximum compensation.
Call 1-800-HURT-NOW or submit a request for a free, no-risk consultation. KNR can ensure your rights are respected.