How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?

For most people, settling a personal injury claim promptly is important. With medical bills piling up and lost wages taking a financial toll, every expense that comes before the insurance company delivers a payout must be paid out of pocket. Fortunately, there are legal limits on how long the insurance company can delay your claim. An attorney in Houston, TX can help you hold the insurance accountable for meeting deadlines.

How Long Does an Insurance Company Have to Settle a Personal Injury Claim?

In most cases, the insurance company is allowed one month to approve or deny your claim, plus however long it takes you to send in all required documentation. After the claim is approved or denied, the insurance company must deliver a payout within five days. In some cases, the insurance company might be allowed to take an additional 45 days to review your case. The breakdown of the deadlines is as follows:

  • 15 days to acknowledge receipt of your claim
  • 15 days to review your claim
  • 5 days to deliver a payout on an approved claim

Steps and Deadlines in the Claim Review Process

When you are submitting a claim, it is important to be aware of deadlines, both for yourself and for the insurance company. If you fail to submit the claim in a timely manner, you run the risk of invalidating your case. If the insurance company fails to meet its deadlines, your lawyer might need to pressure them to keep your claim moving forward.

1. You Submit Your Claim According to the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the maximum amount of time you have to submit a claim. When you have been injured in Texas, the statute of limitations is two years, starting the day of the injury. If you submit your claim outside the statute of limitations, it could be considered invalid even if you have proof that the other party’s negligence caused your injury.

When you notify the insurance company of your accident, you will fill out the claim submission paperwork they require. It is best to be in touch with them immediately after the accident occurs. If you can, you should take photos and videos of the accident so that you have documentation of the incident. It is best to speak with a lawyer as soon as you can to ensure that all the evidence you provide works in your favor.

2. The Insurance Company Must Acknowledge Your Claim Within 15 Days

After you submit your claim, the insurance company must let you know that they have received it within 15 days. Along with acknowledging your claim, the insurance company will begin to investigate the accident to determine whether or not they are required to give you a payout. If your claim is valid, they will use information revealed in the investigation to determine how much money they should send you.

Throughout the investigation process, their goal is to find reasons to minimize their costs. As part of the investigation, the insurance company will send a claims adjuster to inspect your vehicle.  You will most likely be required to send in some additional forms pertaining to the accident.

3. The Insurance Company Has 15 Days to Approve or Deny Your Claim

Once the insurance company has all the information they require to make a decision on your claim, they must issue a determination within 15 days. The clock only starts ticking when they receive all the required documentation from you, so you should not delay in responding to their requests.

If the insurance company decides to extend the review period by an additional 45 days, they are usually entitled to do so. You will receive a notice that their time has been extended and a reason why the investigation is taking longer than usual.

4. You Must Be Paid Within 5 Days of Claim Approval

Insurance companies try all kinds of tactics to minimize their payouts and maximize their profits, but they are not allowed to delay payment for an unreasonable length of time. A skilled lawyer can help fight for you to receive the amount of money you deserve within an appropriate timeframe. By law, the insurance company must issue you a payment within 5 days of approving your claim.

What Can You Do If the Insurance Company Isn’t Meeting Its Deadlines?

When you submit a claim to an insurance company, you open a negotiation process. In any case involving bodily harm, you should work with a qualified attorney who is familiar with the legislation designed to protect you. Personal injury claims tend to be more costly than other kinds of claims, meaning that the insurance company is likely to try to underpay them.

When you work with a lawyer, the insurance company is less apt to assume that you can be manipulated out of ignorance of the law. If the insurance company is late in acknowledging your claim, making a determination, or issuing a payment, your lawyer will follow up with them. If the insurance company delays payment for more than 60 days after you send in all the requested information, they may be required to pay the following penalties in addition to your claim:

  • Your legal fees
  • 18% interest on the value of your claim

How to Get the Full Value of Your Claim

Don’t Settle Too Quickly

We understand that it is important for you to receive your payout quickly. Beyond covering expenses, resolving your claim in a timely manner can give you a sense of closure by putting the accident to rest. No one likes to have legal matters hanging over their head as they go through the process of recovering from an injury and resuming their life.

Some insurance companies will try to take advantage of the fact that claimants need fast payments by offering a fast settlement that is too low. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot reopen the claim to ask for more money. It always pays to go over offers with an attorney who can check to see that all of your damages are included.

Review All of Your Statements and Documentation With an Attorney

While it is important to send in all the required documentation and fill out the claim paperwork in a timely manner, you should have your lawyer check to be sure everything you say and send will support your case. Sometimes, insurance companies ask for information that you are not legally required to disclose.
Anything you tell them can be used to downplay your accident, so it is best to create a strategy with your attorney before you communicate with them.

Work With the Right Attorney

There are many attorneys in Texas who are licensed to handle your case, but not all are qualified. You should choose an attorney who specializes in personal injury law and has prior experience negotiating with insurance companies.

Find a Qualified Attorney in Houston, TX

No matter how your accident happened, getting paid the full value of your claim in a timely manner depends on your ability to prove that you are entitled to compensation. To speak with an attorney in Houston, TX who can help you build your case and keep it moving forward, contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, today!