How long does a car accident settlement take? The answer is: It depends. Complex cases with multiple injuries, vehicles, and fault scenarios take longer to determine than a two-car rear-end accident ending in property damage and whiplash.

But there’s a fine line between thorough investigation and unnecessary stalling in the insurance claim process. Sometimes, the answer to “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?” is that the insurance company hopes you give up and go away. Here are five warning signs your claim may be heading in that direction.

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    1. "Use Your Own Insurance"

    Personal injury protection (PIP), a type of no-fault insurance coverage, is helpful and often a lifesaver if you don’t have health insurance, or if your health insurance plan has high deductibles and copays. It also proves essential if the other insurance company delays settling your claim and your medical bills start piling up.

    An insurance adjuster may demand you use up your insurance first before requesting compensation. This strategy is a delay tactic. It can take a while to exhaust your benefits if you set high limits. All the while, the insurance company has time to discredit your claim or discourage you from pursuing it.

    Delay is a systematic strategy for another reason: statutes of limitations. A statute of limitations is a time limit on filing a lawsuit. Depending on your state, it’s often two to three years after your injury. Once you pass that deadline, you can’t file a lawsuit against the other driver. So, if an insurance adjuster insists on exhausting your PIP coverage first, you’re more likely to miss the statute of limitations deadline and severely limit your remedies.

    2. Unnecessary Document Requests

    Unnecessary document requests are a frequent answer to, “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?” These requests most often include medical records. Insurance adjusters attempt to trick you into authorizing the release of all your past records, so they can argue your injury had nothing to do with the accident.

    While they wish to discredit you with these requests, insurance adjusters also hope to delay your claim and frustrate you. You may even become so disenchanted with the process that you’ll sign forms without reviewing them just to get it all over and done with.

    3. Adjuster Roulette

    How long does a car accident settlement take? It can take a long time if insurance companies play adjuster roulette.

    You should have the same adjuster for your entire claim. There are circumstances where the insurance company may transfer your case to another adjuster. Reasons may include expertise, promotion, termination, or case management. However, these changes should not be constant. You should expect the same adjuster for a minor claim. For complex claims, expect no more than two changes and an explanation.

    Adjuster roulette is an avoidance strategy and one intended to discredit you. If you find you retell your accident to a new adjuster frequently, that’s a major red flag. You’re human and your memory fades, so it’s not unreasonable to assume your story may change slightly on the sixth retelling to a new adjuster. Also, it allows the insurance company to shuffle your case into oblivion and frustrate you. And if you’re frustrated, you just may give up and stop pursuing your claim.

    Understand that adjuster roulette is dangerous and a strong sign that the insurance company doesn’t take your claim seriously. Don’t wait until the company changes your adjuster the sixth time. If you have three changes in less than six months, it’s time to speak with a personal injury attorney.

    4. The Silent Treatment

    Texting, apps, and email make personal injury claims much more efficient on the communication end. Even then, adjusters find ways to give you the silent treatment.

    A common answer to “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?” is that you’re experiencing delayed responses – or no responses at all – to your inquiries and questions. Adjusters may stop returning emails and texts. You may get desperate, give them a call, and they will either let it go to voicemail or give you a noncommittal “I’ll get back to you on that later.”

    The silent treatment often arises if you have a good claim. The insurance company uses this delay tactic to avoid settling and possibly force you to miss the statute of limitations. This strategy falls under insurance bad faith, an insurance company’s failure to pay a legitimate claim. If you face this situation, you need an attorney as you’ll have multiple causes of action – a personal injury claim against the other driver and a bad faith claim against the insurance company.

    5. Denial – But No Reasons

    Denying a claim without giving a reason also falls under bad faith. Insurance companies use the initial denial to chase away claimants. They hope you accept the “no” and go away.

    Claim denial is always a possibility. Common reasons for denying claims include:

    • No diagnosed injury
    • Failure to undergo a medical examination
    • You are partially or entirely at fault
    • Your damages exceed your maximum coverage (common in uninsured or underinsured driver claims)

    Claim denials call for the assistance of an attorney. If the adjuster doesn’t give a reason for denial, you have multiple claims – personal injury and bad faith. If you receive explanations but dispute them, you need legal representation. A claim denial is rarely something you can handle on your own.

    How Long Does A Car Accident Settlement Take? Ask An Attorney

    If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my car accident settlement taking so long?” it may be time to hire a personal injury attorney. Get started with a free case evaluation today to learn more about your legal rights and options.

    Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information, but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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