Can I extend my injury claim with the insurance company?
I tripped and was injured as I was going to an ATM machine. Three years is almost up and we still haven't settled the injury claim I filed with the insurance company. How do I appeal or get an extension of the time frame?
The insurance adjuster has been asking for more information, which I got, but I have the feeling they are just going to wait until the last minute and offer me less than I feel is a reasonable amount. Are they allowed to do that? What can I do to extend the time for negotiations and get them to offer a fair settlement? Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Can I extend my injury claim with the insurance company?":
Judy (Snohomish, WA):
Unfortunately, the Statute of Limitations in the State of Washington is three (3) years. This means you must have settled your injury claim or have filed a lawsuit within three years after the accident. If you fail to settle or file a lawsuit within 3 years after the accident, you will lose your legal right to sue the insured.
There is no law in the State of Washington requiring an insurance company to settle an injury claim within the statute of limitations period. In practical terms, the insurance company may actually be stalling so as to deprive you of the settlement compensation you may deserve.
There are two other remedies to choose from...
First: If your injuries were serious, including fractures, head trauma, serious gashes requiring stitches, disk herniation, etc., you may be able to retain a personal injury attorney to represent you. Your attorney will file a lawsuit if necessary to "toll" the case, meaning stop the statute of limitations. That will afford you and your attorney an almost unlimited amount of time to pursue your injury claim.
Second: If the amount you are asking for is $10,000 or less, you can file your own lawsuit in Small Claims Court. If necessary, you can file a lawsuit before the statutory period expires and then seek legal representation.
Read Washington's law on Small Claims Court here.
And for more information, go to the Washington County Circuit Court website
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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