Bodily injury claim filed 23 months after the accident?
My husband was involved in a car accident in April 2013, involving 3 cars, including his. All of the cars were damaged, but only my husband's car was towed. The car in front of them was towed only because it was being driven illegally. The car in front of my husband took off after the police report was taken.
Although the other people involved stated they had pain on the report, they all took off and refused to be physically examined.
Our insurance handled all the claims for all 3 cars. Now, 23 months later, we received a notice from our insurance company's Independent Adjuster that bodily injury claims were presented directly against us. Although a formal proceeding has not been commenced or a lawsuit filed, our adjuster is asking our permission to release our coverage limits, saying this may or may not help resolve the claims.
Are we obligated to give permission to disclose our coverage limits? What will happen if we don't give permission, can the adjuster still negotiate it?
If there are serious injuries, why did they wait 23 months before filing claims? Can they sue us if they don't come up with an agreeable settlement with our insurance company, and the Statue of Limitations has passed?
This is the first time this has happened, and we really can't afford any settlement beyond what's covered by our insurance. Thank you in advance for your response.
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ANSWER for "Bodily injury claim filed 23 months after the accident?":
Your carrier won't release that information without your consent. It’s not unusual for a victim’s attorney to request policy limits from the insurance company. It will help him or her decide whether a demand of policy limits would be appropriate for the type of property damage and personal injuries sustained by the attorney's client(s).
If you have minimal policy limits, the attorney may offer to settle for your limits if the value of the damages exceeds those limits. Alternately, if the damages are not close to your policy limits and you have a large policy, it may make sense not to divulge that information because the attorney might then ask for a higher settlement.
The adjuster will still negotiate a settlement, whether you consent or not. It just may take longer to settle the claim. Moreover, if the attorney doesn't know the policy limits, he or she may become frustrated and file a lawsuit so the attorney can subpoena the policy limits amount.
It's not unusual for an attorney to wait to file a lawsuit until just before the statute of limitations runs out. Once a lawsuit is filed, the claim leaves the adjuster’s hands and goes to the insurance company's attorneys. That slows the entire process down and the case has to go through pretrial discovery, including depositions, and more.
An attorney would rather take as much time as is necessary to try and settle the claim, hoping it settles before the limitations period expires.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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