What should I do if my personal injury case is being delayed by insurance? 31 Answers as of September 19, 2012I have an open injury suit with an insurance company. My lawyer has never contacted me, I have always had to call them. I took the claim to them 19 months ago. Since then I have had the hospital bills go to collection. It took me a few months to get that straight with them. They told me two months ago they put in an offer and I would hear from them within a month. My claim is not very large and I wonder if this is what is holding them up. Now they are not returning my phone calls and every time I call I am sent to voice mail. What should I do? Is this normal?
Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
The number 1 complaint against lawyers is that they do not return client phone calls. Therefore, send your attorney something in writing describing the problem and your dissatisfaction with their service. That will usually get their attention. If that doesn't fix the problem, you should know that you are always free to fire your attorney, take a copy of your legal file, and go to a different attorney. Just make sure that you let your current attorney know that you have reached your breaking point. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Missouri
The Law Office of Josh Lamborn, P.C. | Josh Lamborn
Personal injury lawsuits can take a very long time to resolve, however, there is no excuse for your lawyer not returning your phone calls and keeping you in the dark. Even very large, busy law firms at least try to have their legal assistants call the clients back and update them on the case. You have the right to change lawyers whenever you want, but you may want to try scheduling a sit down with your attorney and telling him or her your concerns. Explain that if there isn't better communication that you are going to hire a different firm.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Law Offices of Richard Copeland, LLC | Richard Copeland
Do you know when your statute of limitations runs? If not, call your attorney today and demand an answer to that question. If the claim is one of general negligence, the statute of limitations is normally two years. If the claim involves an automobile accident, the statute of limitations is normally three years. You need to know because the clock is ticking. The attorney should be watching it, but you need to protect yourself. With that said, it is not unusual for it to take more than a month to hear back from an insurance company after a demand is submitted. Once you get the first offer from the insurance company, things normally move quickly. I do recommend that you exercise persistence. Keep calling until you get answers.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
While it is true that sometimes lawyers get busy, they should return your phone calls promptly and should give you some kind of a report on the status of your case on at least a monthly basis. To fail to return clients' calls can become an ethical issue for attorneys. You should call back and complain. If you cannot get a response it is proper to take your file to an attorney who is less busy.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Patrick M Lamar Attorney | Patrick M Lamar
It does not sound normal. You would not normally expect to hear from a firm much without calling, but it is not normal for there to be no real discussion of offers, etc. You may need to get a second opinion for another firm.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
A. Daniel Woska & Associates, P.C. | Dan Woska
All lawyers and law firms handle client calls differently. Phone calls should be returned if not by the attorney at least by an assistant. If you want to get to the bottom of your problem call the insurer handling your claim and tell them the lawyer assigned to the case has apparently quit because they ignore your calls, and ask for a new lawyer immediately.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
Send your lawyer a letter certified mail return receipt documenting his failure to stay in touch with you and that he hasn't returned however many phone calls. Tell him that you want him to give you the status of your claim in writing and that from now on he should promptly return your phone calls. He'll be worried that your next step will be to complain to the Grievance Committee. He should then clean up his act if he has half a brain.
Answer Applies to: New York
The S.E. Farris Law Firm | Spencer E. Farris
It is not unusual for you to initiate contact with a personal injury lawyer- because we don't bill by the hour, we rarely call you unless there is information to share. That being said, you should have your calls and emails returned. I would suggest asking for a meeting with your lawyer to express your concerns. More lawyers get fired by clients for failing to communicate than any other reason, and I am certain your lawyer wants to keep your as a client!
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Wilson & Hajek,LLC, a personal injury law firm | Francis Hajek
If your personal injury lawyer is not returning your phone calls, you are right to be concerned. You have several options. You can be more persistent in your attempts to contact your lawyer. For instance, you can send a certified letter expressing your concerns. Or, you may want to consider retaining a different lawyer, but only after making sure that your new lawyer will be more responsive and diligent. Remember that in Virginia there is two year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. You have to have a lawsuit filed within the two years. So do not delay in taking action.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Kelaher Law Offices, P.A. | James P Kelaher
Yes, it is normal. It would be totally inappropriate for them to try to settle your case before you have reached MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) and it usually takes a month for an insurance company to respond to a demand letter. You need to develop patience....these things take a while.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Barry Rabovsky & Associates | Barry Rabovsky
We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation if you call my office at either of the numbers listed below. If my office accepts your case, there is no fee charged unless we are able to obtain a settlement for you.
Answer Applies to: Illinois
Ewusiak & Roberts, P.A. | Christopher J. Roberts
It is not unusual that a case can drag out for months and months. Without more detail, I can't tell if your delays are reasonable or not. Insurance companies are notoriously slow and difficult to deal with, so it is entirely possible that your lawyer is doing all he/she can to move things along. On the other hand, it may be that your case is low priority because it is small, and that your lawyer is dragging his feet. As for your attempts to contact your lawyer, lawyers often get busy and can be hard to reach, but they also have a duty to communicate with their clients. If your lawyer is ignoring you despite repeated attempts to contact him/her, you should let him know in writing that you are displeased and that you are going to find another lawyer if he refuses to keep you updated. That may cause him to wake up and start paying attention to you. If that doesn't work, consider firing him. A new lawyer in your area can look at your contract and determine/explain to you the consequences of firing the current one. You can also file a complaint with the State Bar.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Paul Whitfield and Associates P.A. | Paul L. Whitfield
Not normal. Not reasonable. Write your lawyer a certified letter and tell him your problems. Make HIM SIT DOWN AND TALK TO YOU. IF HE WILL NOT REPORT THIS TO THE NC Bar office in Raleigh. They have committees to deal with this sort of thing
Answer Applies to: North Carolina
David F. Stoddard | David F. Stoddard
It is not unusual. Attorneys should return client's phone calls. However, your message is probably asking have you heard anything on my case? If they haven't heard anything and have numerous calls to return, they might put yours off because they have no news. Sometimes when I have a case like yours and my client calls, I call the insurance company hoping to get something done before I call the client back. Then, if the adjuster ignores my call, I never get back to the client, because during the next few days that I wit on the adjuster to call me, I have 30 more calls to return. Keep calling your attorney. Eventually, they should call you back. Unfortunately, the answer if the insurance company will not make an offer is to file suit. However, if your case isn't worth much as you say, then it is almost not worth going to court (sometimes you have to even on small claims) and the attorney will make every effort to settle the case first.
Answer Applies to: South Carolina
The Torkzadeh Law Firm | Reza Torkzadeh
Insurance companies use the three D's to handle their claims: Deny, Defend, Delay. I would make sure that you immediately speak with your current attorney and find out the status of your claim. Big or small, your injury case is still and important event in your life and as such, it should be handled no differently than a large case. Continue to reach out to your attorney until you have an answer. Remember, in California, there is a 2-year statute of limitations meaning that you must file a lawsuit within two years of your accident or you will forever lose your right to do so.
Answer Applies to: California
The Law Firm of Reed & Mansfield | Jonathan C. Reed
When you hire a lawyer you have a right to expect an open line of communication with the lawyer, not with the lawyer's voicemail, secretary or paralegal. I do personal injury work in Nevada and when I represent a client I give them my cell phone number. It is always your right to fire your present lawyer and hire a new lawyer. The original lawyer may claim a lien on your file and you should ask that the new lawyer sign an agreement with you agreeing to pay the old lawyer's fee claim out of the new lawyer's fee so that you don't get billed double. This forces your new lawyer to evaluate how much work the old lawyer has done or not done and what the case is worth. I cannot tell from what you have written if your present lawyer is at fault for not moving your case faster or whether there are reasons beyond your lawyer's control why your case has taken this long. However, a lawyer always controls whether he or she makes themselves available to their clients. It is my experience that if my clients are satisfied that I am moving their case as fast as possible and that I personally can answer their questions about the details of their case, then clients respect my time and don't call me more than necessary and that is why I give them my cell phone number.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Andrew T. Velonis, P.C. | Andrew Velonis
Most of what you describe is normal: It is up to you to maintain contact with your lawyers. Otherwise, they will only call you when they need something, such as your signature. All of their other clients are calling them on a regular basis, so if you don't, they will assume you are no longer interested. 19 months is not uncommon, it depends on a lot of factors, the biggest single one being the status of your medical recovery. They may have been overly optimistic when they said they expected a response within a month. But, they should return your calls. My recommendation: call and insist on making an office appointment to come in and discuss your case. Call 3 times a day if you have to. Then get an appointment, meet with them and politely ask "What is your game plan?" Don't get accusative or complain about the past. Ask if they need any further information or documents from you or if there is anything for you to sign, inquire about the status and have them tell you their plans for going forward. Then, set an appointment for a phone conference for an update. Assure them that if they have nothing to report, that is okay with you, you just want a regular report date.
Answer Applies to: New York