After filing an insurance claim for an injury, you might be left with a ticking clock. Waiting too long could mean that an offer expires – and there are also other timing factors that shut down your ability to recover compensation if you wait too long.
Generally, an insurance offer is left open and has no deadline to accept it unless it specifically says so. However, the insurance company is under no obligation to leave that offer open forever. Additionally, the statute of limitations often puts an outside cap on how long you have to file your claim and get compensation, so you usually have to figure out whether you want to accept an offer or go to court before that deadline lapses.
For help with an injury lawsuit, call our Maryland personal injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.
Can You Wait to Respond to an Insurance Offer in Maryland?
When an insurance company gives you an offer, it will usually say how long you have to accept. Some insurance offers will be left open with no deadline, but some will have a specific deadline for you to make a decision on the offer. If you do not accept within the deadline, then it will be interpreted as a refusal of the offer.
Sometimes insurance companies will avoid putting a particular deadline on the offer and merely look for a reasonable response time. Other times, the offer will specifically say that a response should be made in a reasonable amount of time. This, of course, is not a very clear deadline.
In any insurance settlement case, you should be given sufficient time to contact a Mount Airy personal injury attorney and have them review the offer with you. While insurance companies are often your adversary in these kinds of cases, and they want to end cases as cheaply and quickly as they can, they still usually recognize that victims often want to speak with a lawyer before signing anything.
What Happens if You Don’t Respond to an Insurance Settlement Offer by the Deadline?
If you wait too long and the deadline passes, then the offer itself expires. However, insurance companies might not really care too much about this deadline, and they might allow you to accept the offer late.
When insurance companies put quick deadlines on an offer, it is usually done so to pressure you into accepting the offer quickly. With less time to think about and reconsider the offer, insurance companies usually hope that you will feel the pressure of mounting medical expenses and just take the offer, even if you could ultimately get more by going to court. The specific deadline they use typically does not have too much meaning; they merely want you to accept quickly.
If the deadline lapses on the offer, then the contract attached to the offer is no longer an open, valid offer, and it cannot be accepted. This means that your acceptance does not form a valid agreement/contract. However, the insurance company can treat the signed paperwork as a counteroffer, which means that they treat it as a new offer from you. By signing the agreement after you, the insurance company can accept your terms (the same terms they initially offered you), and a valid contract can be formed.
Essentially, insurance companies are free to waive the deadlines since they were the ones that made up the deadline in the first place. If they do this, then you can accept a settlement late – but insurance companies are not always willing to do this.
What Are My Options When I Have a Deadline to Accept an Insurance Payout in Maryland?
When insurance companies make a settlement offer, you are under no obligation to accept the offer. You should always have a lawyer review the settlement and check whether it covers all of your needs. In most cases, early settlement offers are merely there to try to end the case quickly. In fact, the insurance company might not even think their insured was at fault, and they are only making you an offer because that settlement would be cheaper than fighting the case in court. But you usually have many directions you can go at this stage:
First, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company to try to get you a better settlement. This can mean appealing the decision through the insurance company’s internal processes or even setting up calls or meetings to go over the evidence and request a higher settlement offer.
Counter Offers and Demand Letters
Your Dundalk, MD personal injury attorney can present the insurance company with a reasonable counter to their offer that covers all of your needs. Essentially, your lawyer will take their own calculation of your damages and write a letter demanding full payment. If the insurance company sees that the evidence against them is strong, it is possible that you could receive an offer for full compensation at this stage and end your case quickly.
However, insurance companies are unlikely to accept high-dollar settlements at this stage if there is anything they can do to fight the claim.
Going to Court
If your lawyer cannot get a fair settlement from the insurance company that truly covers your needs in full, then it might be best to turn to the courts. Filing a lawsuit for your injury case can give you a chance to have a jury decide how much your case is worth rather than leaving it up to the insurance company.
Just because you go to court does not mean that you need to go to trial. Most court cases are settled before a jury is even assembled, let alone before they reach a verdict.
Deadline to File Insurance Claims and Lawsuits for Injury in Maryland
Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. Art., § 5-101 sets a 3-year statute of limitations for injury claims in Maryland. This means that after 3 years have elapsed from the date of the initial injury, you can no longer file an injury lawsuit. If you get to that point and have not filed your case in court, the insurance company no longer has any reason to settle the claim and will be unlikely to make any new offers or leave the offer open after that deadline has passed.
For a Free Case Review, Contact Our Maryland Injury Attorneys
If you have been injured in an accident, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras’ Ocean City, MD personal injury lawyers today at (410) 694-7291.