What is Litigation and How Long Should it Take?
After an insurance company denies or underpays your claim, you're likely anxious to take the next steps to obtain coverage and get your property repaired. If you've contacted an attorney, the topic of "litigation" may come up, which can be daunting. So, what exactly does it mean and what should you expect if your insurance claim ends up in litigation?
Litigation is the process of filing and following through a lawsuit to enforce your rights under your insurance policy. Throughout the litigation process, your attorney will be with you to guide you every step of the way and represent you.
Before officially filing your lawsuit, you or your public adjuster will need to provide any documents or information you have related to the property damage. This includes: communications between you and the insurance company, any invoices from companies you've hired to remediate the damages, and invoices or estimates you've obtained for the cost of repairs.
Once your lawsuit is filed, the insurance company will respond to your complaints and the "discovery" phase will begin. Discovery is the process of exchanging information between the insurance company's attorney and your attorney. You may receive written requests from the insurance company for documents or written questions asking you about the claim, and your attorneys will send the insurance company the same. You may also need to sit for a deposition where an attorney for the insurance company will ask you questions. Remember, your attorney is here throughout this entire process to assist you.
During the entire litigation period, your attorney and the insurance company's attorney will likely engage in negotiation techniques to avoid going to trial and continuing litigation. This process may involve "mediation," which is where you, your attorney, the insurance company, and their attorney meet and try to reach a reasonable settlement agreement. Throughout each negotiation attempt, your attorney will be working in your best interest to obtain the best recovery they can for you during this time.
The last step in litigation is the trial phase. This is what most people think of when they hear the word "lawsuit," where the case goes to court before a judge and jury. Typically, property insurance cases take anywhere from one to five days in court.
Every insurance claim is different and some may not require litigation at all while others may result in a lengthy litigation. Although property insurance claims in litigation typically are on average resolved within six months to a year, it is most often worth the time that it requires to know that you've enforced your rights and your insurance company paid for the damage. If your insurance company has denied or underpaid your claim and you're unsure of the next steps, contact our office today for a consultation.
This article is not intended to be legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.