After a car accident, it’s not uncommon for the victims to call our office months later with complaints about their insurance claim. Usually the complaint is that the insurance adjuster is a jerk, won’t return calls, won’t make an offer, or simply is denying liability altogether. Clients then call us to ask if this is normal.
I don’t know if it’s “normal,” but it sure is prevalent. One would think that the insurance companies would do whatever it takes to prevent a person from contacting a lawyer after a personal injury claim, but every year our office takes over the cases of many people who simply want to avoid any further dealings with the insurance company.
Is there any way to make the process easier? Not really. But after a car accident, there are certain obligations under California law that insurance companies must follow:
• If it’s your own insurance policy (such as an uninsured motorist claim), tell you of all benefits and coverages available to you.
• Open a claim file immediately and contact you within 15 days to appraise you of the status of the claim.
• Respond to phone calls or letter received by you within 15 days of receipt.
• Accept or deny the claim within 40 days after receiving documentation that the claim made is legitimate and supported by evidence.
• Offer a fair settlement, and pay it within 30 days.
The California Department of Insurance has an excellent manual that covers most issues that arise in an auto insurance claim (click here). Or, of course, you can call our office to answer any questions you might have. If, after an accident, the injuries are serious, then I believe it is important to get an attorney involved. The personal injury lawyers at Walton Law Firm LLP provide free consultations on all auto accident case.