If you have had a personal injury upend your life, you know how disruptive it can be. You are also likely familiar with how long, painful, arduous, and downright stressful the process of seeking a personal injury settlement can be.
Perhaps the most common question we get as personal injury attorneys is the age-old problem of why a client’s personal injury settlement check has been delayed or hasn’t yet arrived. These are clients who have already filed their claim and are waiting to be fairly compensated by their insurance companies, but have been left waiting, potentially indefinitely without the help of an attorney.
If your personal injury settlement check is delayed, there are many possible reasons for that delay—some of which are above-board and legal, others of which are less so.
- Insurance Company Bureaucracy: Insurance providers are almost always large companies that employ hundreds if not thousands of people in offices around the world. The processing of a claim has many different steps that involve different parts of that company apparatus, each of which requires the collection and/or receipt of information and documents as well as their evaluation and processing. In addition, it should be noted that these companies are for-profit (more on that later), and paying out full claims promptly is not actually their first priority. As a result of these factors, there is an intricate bureaucracy set up in every major insurance company to try to poke holes in the claim and to drag the claims process along as long as is possible. When claim checks are delayed, this is often the reason why.
- Severity of Injures/Duration of Treatment: Settlement negotiations for personal injury claims usually don’t begin until you reach the point of maximum medical improvement—that is, as soon as your treatment offers as much improvement as it is likely to offer. If your injuries are very severe, it could take months or even years to reach this point. Unfortunately, due to the way the system is set up, if your check is delayed for this reason, it’s usually in your best interest to wait until you reach maximum healing to negotiate, as entering negotiations before the full cost of the injuries is known is likely to undervalue your claim.
- Human Error: The processing of an insurance claim involves a lot of moving parts attached to many individual human beings, all of whom are fallible and make mistakes. There may be one of those human errors clogging up the works along the way and preventing you from getting your personal injury check. Whether it’s the claims adjuster, your doctors, hospital billing processors, or you yourself, it’s possible that someone forgot to put the signature in the right place or dot the right “I” or send the right form to the right place, which is the source of the delay.
- Insurance Company Bad Faith: As mentioned above, insurance providers are for-profit companies that have enormous profit margins. They get those high profit margins by cutting down on “costs”—i.e., cutting down on appropriately and promptly paying out on claims—whenever possible. This includes delaying and hyper-vetting claims to try to disprove them—essentially doing whatever they can legally do to get out of paying the claim. Sometimes, their behavior veers from questionable but legal to illegal. In some cases, they will force personal injury survivors to jump though countless hoops, some of which may not be possible for them to actually jump through, in order to even get a claim started. Delays—especially indefinite delays—may be a result of this sort of bad faith foot-dragging, which is often an attempt to wait out the statute of limitations and significantly reduce the value of the claim. If your insurance company is doing something like this, it may be grounds for a bad-faith lawsuit, which is an option your personal injury attorney can help you explore.
Are you or a loved one waiting for a personal injury settlement check in Salem, Indiana? Salem Personal Injury Attorney Thomas Scifres is ready to help. Call for a free consultation on your personal injury settlement case today.