What happens if the insurance company won’t respond to your demand letter? If you tried to represent yourself (called “pro se” representation), and the insurance company won’t respond to your demand letter or to your efforts to contact them, call our office for a free consultation at 847-305-4105. We can help you file a lawsuit in Cook County or elsewhere in Illinois.
You are involved in an auto accident in Glenview, Cook County or anywhere in the state of Illinois. You file a claim with the defendant’s auto insurance company. Normally, they are relatively quick to respond. Though the insurance company may not be prepared to compensate you for your property and other damages until they see the police report and/or investigate the accident.
But let’s assume for our purposes that your car is repaired, you’ve obtained and completed your medical treatment and you are prepared to demand compensation from the insurance company for your medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages, among other things. What comes next? Normally, you will submit a demand letter to the insurance company.
The form of demand letters vary. They can range from 13 page long letters to a short and very brief demand to be compensated. However, they should be in writing. In addition, when you submit the letter, make sure you attach copies of your medical bills and records and confirmation of the amount of your lost wages.
Normally, after submission I will give the insurance company 30 days in which to respond to the demand letter (assuming you have time to do so based on the statute of limitations). But what happens if the insurance company won’t respond to your demand letter?
Does the insurance company have to respond to your demand letter?
Generally speaking, the answer is no. The insurance company does not have to respond to your demand letter. This doesn’t often happen with Allstate or State Farm and any other “decent” insurance (the irony of the word “decent” is not lost on me). However, these major insurance companies have the workforce and processes in place to ensure you are responded to.
The situation I’m referring to often arises when you’re dealing with a sub par insurance companies – and there are quite a few of them in Chicago. They are local companies that only write minimum ($25,000) insurance policies.
Why do they act the way they do? That’s a conversation for another blog. The bottom line is, they will do everything they can to make your experience with them miserable and that includes ignoring you.
What are your options?
In most cases, your only option is to file a lawsuit. This week my office filed a lawsuit in Cook County on an auto accident case. We submitted our demand over six weeks ago and the insurance company never responded to it or to our subsequent inquiries. As such, we were left no choice but to file a lawsuit.
Where do you file suit? The accident I referenced occurred in the northern suburbs of Cook County. As such, we were able to file a lawsuit in Cook County at the second district Skokie Courthouse on Old Orchard Road by Old Orchard Mall. Where you file suit will depend on in what county your accident took place.
Which court you should file a lawsuit in is also determined by how much your damages were. The vast majority of auto accidents result in minor damage and injuries. If you want to represent yourself and your damages were less than $10,000 you can file suit in small claims court. The filing fee is modest and the process for pursing the claim is much easier. If your damages are over $10,000, I suggest talking to a personal injury lawyer before taking any action.
As of July 1, 2018, if you file a lawsuit in Cook County or most of the other counties in the state of Illinois, beware that the courts have gone to e-filing. You no longer can go to the courthouse and file your lawsuit with the clerk.
The e-filing process in Cook County at least has been difficult for many attorneys since it begun on July 1, 2018. As such, be prepared for some issues getting set up to file online. And if you have a statute of limitations issues, do not delay. Contact the court and/or an attorney immediately in order to protect your rights
Finally, you may have heard the phrase “bad faith.” This is a situation when an insurance company engages in vexatious conduct by failing to pay you for your damages. It’s a complicated claim and will not be discussed here. In my many years of practicing, I have threatened it only a few times. It often spurs an insurance company to act but not (for me at least) to increase their offer. In short, it’s not regularly used in auto accidents cases except in extreme situations.
If you seek to file a lawsuit in Cook County because the insurance company won’t respond to your demand letter, contact our office at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.