Let me talk today about a common question that I get. Actually, sometimes, it is a complaint, which is this, “I want my case settled, why is it taking so long?”
Let me begin. There’s a certain procedure that has to happen. First of all, you have to be completely finished with all of your medical treatment. If you’ve not completely finished with all of your medical treatment, there’s nothing that your lawyer’s going to be able to do for you as far as actually settling the case.
Either have to be actually completely done and then the lawyer knows that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, and then he or she can go ahead and make what we call a demand to the insurance company. Now, in Georgia, the insurance company has 30 days by law to review the demand. That’s once they actually receive it. Typically, what occurs is lawyers will send out demand by a certified mail to the insurance company, making the demand for settlement.
The 30 days for the insurance company begins to run from the date they actually receive it. You count forward from there. Now as a practical matter what happens is this. Many times, insurance companies do respond within that 30-day period, but there’s not always the case. Maybe the demand has been sent out and the insurance adjuster wants more information.
Maybe they want an additional medical record. Maybe the adjuster has been out for an extended period of time and has not reviewed it.
As a lawyer, we have a choice because the insurance company is not responding within that 30 days, should we just go ahead and file a suit because the adjuster has been out sick for two weeks or because the adjuster has had 250 files to get to and hasn’t been able to this particular one? It’s not a wise decision on that basis alone to file a suit just because the 30 days has technically expired. The reason for that is this.
If it’s a relatively minor case, a whiplash case where you don’t have a lot of substantial medical bills and no permanent injury, then you’re going to file a lawsuit which is going to take maybe a year, a year and a half to get resolved, plus it’s going to cost you as a client maybe a couple $1,000 and litigation expenses, versus being patient and just waiting a little bit more time.
If the lawyer has sent out the demand and it hasn’t exactly met that 30-day period, don’t assume that the lawyer isn’t doing his or her job. Sometimes, of course, that is the case. You do need to follow up as far as at least the status. That’s a little bit why sometimes these things take a little bit longer than what you might hope for. As a lawyer, I actually want the cases resolved quicker too because it makes look better. If you’re happy, then I’m happy. If you have any questions, give me a call at 770-792-1000.