A settlement demand is the process in which your attorney writes to the insurance company and/or their attorney and tells them what they think your case is worth and why. In some areas of law like medical malpractice, attorneys will ask for way more than what they think the case is worth. There are some Illinois work comp attorneys who take that strategy and think they are negotiating geniuses by giving themselves “some room to negotiate” but most attorneys we know ask for something realistic in the hopes of getting the most for their clients as soon as possible.
Insurance companies don’t have to make an offer or respond to your settlement demand. They often do because to them a settled case is a good case. In some claims though, usually those with neck, shoulder and back injuries, they can be hesitant to settle.
This happened to a recent caller of mine. He hurt his neck at work and had a surgery. All of his bills and time off work were paid. The mistake he made was that the attorney he hired was a general practice attorney who handles car accidents, probate, divorce, DUI’s and a whole bunch of other cases. I assume that he took the case on because he thought it would be easy, not because it was in the client’s best interests.
What happened is the attorney made a settlement demand and the insurance company has been ignoring him. The client has been waiting for months for an answer. At first the attorney told him the truth and said he didn’t know what to do other than wait, but lately he’s just stopped returning calls. So the insurance company won’t call the lawyer and the lawyer won’t call the client. Tons of red flags going on here.
It’s a bad news, good news situation.
The bad news is that he hired a terrible attorney. The good news is that there hasn’t been a settlement offer so getting a new one was not a problem. If the insurance company doesn’t want to settle, you can still get paid by simply going to trial. Usually just preparing for trial will push them along to make an offer and if not, an Arbitrator will award you an amount. You’d be shocked at how many cases drag on because an attorney is just too lazy or inexperienced to get the job done.
Bottom line is that the insurance company doesn’t have to make an offer or return phone calls but if they don’t, an aggressive attorney can get things done for you and get your case closed.