Among the most critical factors that will influence how long it will take for you to settle your claim include the severity of your injuries, how complex is your legal case, legal representation, and whether you decide to settle outside the court or pursue a personal injury lawsuit, among other things.
Sometimes, waiting a bit longer to settle your personal injury claim can be beneficial from some perspectives. Yet, you should pursue your claim as soon as possible. To understand exactly how long it will take to settle your case, it’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer who focuses on similar cases.
A skilled lawyer can make a fair assumption on the duration once the facts of your case are evaluated during a consultation. At The Law Offices of Scott J. Senft, we offer free consultations for our new clients. Our dedicated personal injury attorneys will review the facts of your case, help you understand the timeline of a personal injury case, and keep you updated on any changes so that you are always informed about the status of your case. Here is what you should know about the timeline of Florida car accident settlements:
The Duration of Medical Treatment
Among the most crucial aspects determining the duration of your Florida car accident case will be the severity of your injuries and the recovery period. However, you should not view this negatively but neutrally since the longer it takes to heal, the higher your compensation amount will be.
If you have sustained severe injuries and major property damage, your case will take longer to reach resolution since you will need to pursue compensation for every cost that pilled up during your recovery, and this includes:
- Medical bills
- Repairs for property damage
- Lost wages and future lost income
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Doctor appointments, therapy, and other medical care procedures
If you have suffered major injuries such as a spinal cord injury, for example, you might need between six months and up to a year to reach maximal recovery. However, this does not mean you must wait so long to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties or receive compensation.
You can work with a personal injury lawyer who will collaborate with medical experts to assess the extent of your injuries and anticipate the medical expenses and the impact on your future quality of life to determine a fair compensation amount to seek in your claim.
The Serious Injury Threshold
If the injuries you have sustained during your car accident are minor and do not reach what the state of Florida considers the “serious injury threshold,” you might settle your personal injury claim faster as it will be easier to anticipate your expenses and seek compensation for them.
Apart from this, if your injuries do not meet the serious injury threshold, you can recover your initial damages through your own insurance company by using Florida’s no-fault insurance system.
Your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage will help you pay for the medical expenses incurred regardless of who was at fault for the car accident as long as you seek medical care within 14 days of the car accident.
Florida’s no-fault insurance system requires all drivers to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection. However, you can only pay up to 80% of your medical bills. In instances where although you have suffered minor or no injuries but extensive property damage, an experienced lawyer might be able to help you seek further compensation by pursuing a property damage claim if the circumstances of your case allow it.
However, this will also influence the timeline of your case since a more thorough investigative process will be conducted to establish fault and expenses incurred, which leads to the next element that influences the duration of a car accident settlement.
Car Accident Claim Investigation and Gathering Evidence
Although Florida is a no-fault state that compensates injured drivers regardless of how a motor vehicle accident occurred and who is at fault, the circumstances surrounding the accident will nonetheless be examined if:
- The accident resulted in injuries or fatalities
- The property damage exceeds $500
Personal Injury Laws
The aforementioned rules also imply that car accident victims, under Florida law, must also report the accident to authorities. In most car crashes, there is rarely only one party at fault. However, even if you do not share any fault for the car crash, the other party or parties will try to shift some blame onto you to reduce their liability and costs.
Florida follows a modified comparative fault system as of 2023, which allows injured parties to seek compensation for their damages even if they were partially at fault. All parties’ negligence level will determine their share in the liability.
With this in mind, if a party is found less than 50% at fault for the car accident, they can recover damages. If, however, after the investigative process, it is deemed that a party is more than 50% at fault for the car accident, they will be barred from recovering any damages.
If, in your car accident in Florida, you are found, for example, to be 30% at fault, and the final compensation amount is $100,000, you will only receive $70,000. Because of this, and since injured parties may lose their right to seek compensation, gathering evidence is crucial and prioritized and will influence the time length of cases.
Car accidents undergoing investigative processes can take a couple of hours, days, weeks, or even months, depending on how many parties are involved in the crash and other circumstances. The police may issue a car accident report between five and seven days, but this can also vary.
Also, how soon you file a car accident claim is crucial and will also influence the length of time of your case. Under Florida’s new statute of limitations, personal injury cases must be filed within two years from the date of the accident.
In some exceptional circumstances, the statute of limitations can be extended, however, the longer it takes to file a claim, the harder it will be for a case to reach a settlement. This is because evidence-gathering will be more challenging with the passage of time.
Gathering Evidence, Damages, & Identifying Liable Parties
You need strong evidence to have a valid claim against the at-fault driver and file a claim against their insurance company. Depending on the complexity of your case and what you did or didn’t do during and after your car accident, gathering evidence will be made easier or harder, possibly translating to a lengthier case.
This is why you should proceed cautiously. When the crash occurred, the injured person should immediately call authorities and seek medical attention. This will ensure that authorities will conduct an investigation and issue police reports, and the healthcare professionals will help you prioritize your health and issue valuable medical records to showcase your injuries and treatment, and establish the causal link between them and the accident.
You can use your insurance coverage to cover some of the costs. Gathering evidence will also be more complicated if no witnesses are involved, so you should write down their contact information if they are present.
Lastly, taking pictures of your injuries, road conditions, and vehicle damage will also aid in your claim. If video footage from other sources is present, possessing it may take some time. If more parties are involved in the car crash and liable, establishing liability may also take longer.
Yet, a personal injury attorney can aid you in gathering evidence, preparing witness statements, dealing with insurance companies, getting hold of police reports, and establishing the liable parties, which can cut down on time and allow you to rest and heal. They will also help you establish the damages you want to seek in your claim.
The Insurance Company & Auto Accident Claims
Car accident cases almost always revolve around insurance companies. An insurance company may try to offer you a settlement soon after the accident, which can cut down on a lot of time. However, in most instances, this offer is way less than what you deserve, especially since you do not know the true extent of your injuries.
When you file a claim with an insurance company, the complexity of your case and their responsiveness will also play a small role in how long it will take to reach a settlement.
Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer and Reaching Negotiations
Collaborating with a car accident attorney for your car accident in Florida can help you reach a resolution faster. Through a free consultation, a law firm can help you get an accurate answer on how long it takes to settle a case such as yours by reviewing the facts.
Working with a Florida car accident attorney will help you gather crucial evidence to diminish your liability or establish fault and act as an intimidating factor. An insurance company will use all its resources against you, including your lack of legal knowledge, to undermine your claim or hand you out a lesser settlement amount.
However, working with a lawyer can help you settle your case faster since their knowledge of the law will aid in your chances of settling your car accident case outside the courts, which will help you save valuable time.
Your car accident lawyer will send a demand letter, negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, and represent your interests after the investigation process and assessment of your damages.
The length of these negotiations depends on the strength of your evidence, your lawyer’s negotiation skills, the insurance company, and the overall willingness to settle. Negotiations can take between a few days, weeks, or months, and once you accept a settlement offer, your case is completed.
When parties fail to settle their car accident claim, a personal injury lawyer will advise victims on whether pursuing a personal injury lawsuit is the best way to move on. If the litigation phase commences, your lawyer will help you gather further evidence and prepare your case.
Sometimes, they may work with third-party experts, such as accident reconstruction professionals, to strengthen your claim further and reach a fair settlement. Personal injury trials have several stages of development, but the jury decides the final outcome along with a judge. The legal process can be split into the following stages:
- Filing the complaint
- Discovery phase
- Pre-trial motions
Opposing parties can still reach a settlement before the trial stage, especially when evidence is shared between them. This can take between a couple of days, weeks, or months, but settling will also be influenced by the court’s schedule, the overall complexity of the case, and potential challenges along the way.
Having a Dedicated Personal Injury Lawyer By Your Side
Many factors influence the length of legal cases, especially in car accidents. Blog posts showcase various timelines, but in the end, there are too many factors and variables to give a straight answer.
However, the most accurate way to receive an answer for your particular case is to speak directly with a personal injury lawyer. At The Law Offices of Scott J. Senft, our Florida car accident lawyers can provide you with a free consultation on your case and guide you throughout your claim process.
Let our lawyers help you recover compensation for your injuries and other damages and give you a fighting chance at receiving maximum compensation. Our law firm does not prioritize haste but justice and fair compensation.