If you are wondering how long an accident investigation takes, you are not alone. Many accident victims wonder the same thing. While each case is different, there are general time limits regarding such claims. However, there are several factors that may affect how long an accident investigation takes and how long you may be waiting for a settlement check.
State Time Limits Are in Place to Encourage Swift Action
Each state establishes its own time limits that dictate how long insurance companies have to complete an accident investigation.
In South Carolina, insurance companies must pay all claims in a “prompt and reasonable amount of time,” according to the South Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI). However, this agency explains that what is considered “prompt and reasonable” can vary for each claim. Some claims may require a special or extended investigation to resolve.
In Georgia, there are more specific time deadlines for when the insurance company must conduct its accident investigation and approve or reject claims from its insured. Rule 120-2-52 of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia states that:
- The insurance company must acknowledge that it has received the claim within 15 days of receiving it
- The insurance company must provide proper forms to the insured, along with instructions to fill them out within 15 days from the date of the filing of the claim
- The insurance company has 15 days to accept or deny a claim after receiving the necessary forms from the insured, or 30 days from the date of filing the claim (if it does not require specific forms)
- The insurance company has a maximum of 60 days to make a final decision regarding the claim
- The insurance company has 10 days from its decision to pay the claim
If the insurance company does not comply with these timelines, it may be considered an unfair claims practice or insurance bad faith under OCGA §33-6-34.
Factors Which Affect the Duration of an Accident Investigation
There are some factors that may affect how long an accident investigation may take, such as:
Whether a Crime Was Committed
If the accident involved a hit and run, DWI, or other type of crime, it may take additional time to resolve the claim if separate criminal charges are brought. This is because law enforcement will need time to process the evidence.
Whether Liability Is in Question
If the drivers involved disagree about how the collision occurred, this may delay the claim and require additional time to investigate which account is more accurate.
The Severity of Your Injuries
If you suffered a serious injury, your lawyer may advise you to wait until you have reached maximum medical improvement so that you have a clearer idea of the potential damages of your claim before settling it.
The Availability of Evidence
Sometimes crucial evidence that can establish liability may not be immediately available, such as surveillance footage or cell phone records. So, requests from lawyers or law enforcement may need to be completed first.
Whether Multiple Drivers Are Involved
In the event of a pileup or an accident involving multiple drivers, it may take more time to investigate the accident.
Whether Coverage Issues Are Involved
The insurance company may need extra time to investigate your case before it can make a decision regarding your claim. This can occur when your insurance lapses near the time of the accident, or the insurance company believes that there are other potential issues surrounding coverage or lack thereof.
What Goes Into an Accident Investigation
If you want to know how long an accident investigation takes, then it is important that you understand everything that goes into this type of accident claim. The insurance company will likely take the following steps before completing its investigation and determining whether to pay your claim:
- Request a copy of the accident report and review it
- Contact you and the other driver to get a statement about how the accident occurred
- Contact other eyewitnesses to the accident
- Send an insurance adjuster to take photographs of the vehicle and property damage
- Review your insurance policy
- Review other forms of evidence, such as photographs taken at the scene of the accident or dashcam footage
- Request and review medical and employment records
- Communicate with your lawyer
- Respond to your lawyer’s demand for compensation
- Request any additional information necessary to render a decision or determine damages
- Prepare correspondence regarding you of the decision
You Can Arrange for an Independent Investigation to Protect Your Rights
During the claims process, it is important that you keep in mind that the insurance company cares about protecting its own interests and not making large payouts. So, it may be helpful to have a lawyer conduct their own investigation into your accident to counter any adverse findings by the insurance company.
Contact George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers to learn more about how we can help.