Having a competent attorney is vital when dealing with insurance companies. If you are injured in a car accident by an underinsured motorist, it is vital to make timely preparations to receive damages that can help pay for medical bills. Filing an underinsured motorist claim can be important in this regard.
The statute of limitations to file an underinsured motorist claim is three years in most circumstances. However, there are two factors that can extend the statute of limitations by two years:
- If a lawsuit is filed against the underinsured motorist within three years after the accident
- If payment for a bodily injury claim is received within three years after the accident
We can learn about why timely intervention is important by reviewing the appellate court case Stoesz vs. State Farm. In the case, a woman was hit by an underinsured motorist and filed a bodily injury claim with the motorist’s insurance company.
The woman (plaintiff in this case) settled her bodily injury claim with Progressive (the underinsured motorist’s carrier) within the three-year statute of limitations. However, State Farm, her insurance company, did not approve this claim until after the three-year statute of limitations. As a result, Progressive did not send the woman payment until after the statute of limitations had expired.
The court ruled the woman did not meet the two necessary factors to extend the statute of limitations by two years. Because she did not receive a payment or file a lawsuit within the three-year statute of limitations, she was out of luck.
Competent Legal Representation Is Important When Dealing with Insurance Companies
The woman’s attorney should have filed a lawsuit against the underinsured motorist before the three-year statute of limitations, but for unknown reasons, did not do so. The attorney could have filed a lawsuit the afternoon before the statute of limitations was up and still have extended his or her client’s ability to file an uninsured motorist claim by two years.
State Farm waited too long to approve the bodily injury claim with Progressive, costing the woman her chance to extend the statute of limitations. One could argue that your insurance company is not on your side and will fight you tooth and nail to avoid losing money. In this case, State Farm fought against the woman and won in both the lower and appellate courts.
This woman had underinsured motorist coverage but was unable to use it. Don’t let this happen you. Insurance companies are not your friend just because you are a customer. Hire a competent personal injury attorney that knows when to take the gloves off with insurance companies and file a lawsuit.