After suffering injuries in a car accident, one of the most consistently pressing questions people have is: “How long will it take to recover my damages?” Although the process for pursuing compensation from a negligent party is generally consistent, the amount of time each step in the process takes varies from case to case.
In this blog, we break down the process that unfolds in a “typical” (if there is such a thing) car accident lawsuit—starting with the fact that most car accidents find their resolution outside of court.
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Not every car accident case ends in a lawsuit
Before we dive in, you should know that not every person who suffers injury in a car crash receives compensation from a court award. In fact, the vast majority of these cases reach a settlement with the negligent party’s insurance company without ever setting foot in a courtroom.
Why do car accidents settle out of court?
The unpredictability of a trial typically motivates the insurer to resolve car accident claims as swiftly as possible—without gambling on a jury’s sympathies. At the same time, the insurance company also pays deference to its bottom line. They want to settle out of court—but they want to do so as cheaply as possible. Know in advance that the value of your case does not drive the amount an insurer will offer you in a settlement.
What happens if the insurance company lowballs a settlement?
The car accident lawyers at our firm know where and how to uncover the full damages from your car accident injury, and we will fight the insurance company to either compensate you the amount you deserve—or see us in court.
Timing plays a role in whether a lawsuit happens
Keep in mind that Florida’s statute of limitations (Florida Statutes §95.11(3)(a)) limits the amount of time you have following your car accident in which to file a lawsuit. Consider starting the process of filing your insurance claim early, so you have plenty of time to take the matter to civil court, if necessary, before your time runs out.
Timeline for a car accident
- You experience a car accident. Your recollection of events—and the testimony of witnesses and other evidence—indicate that someone else caused the collision.
- You sustain some form of injury from the crash.
- You seek medical attention, and the healthcare provider diagnoses and documents your injury and provides a treatment plan and prognosis.
- You connect with a personal injury lawyer who can handle the effort to recover damages, like past and future medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.
- Your lawyer listens to the details of your case and discusses your options for recovering damages. The attorney will also cover the terms of their fees, which are contingency-based, meaning you pay only if and when you win a settlement or court judgment.
- At this time, your lawyer may decide to proceed with filing a lawsuit against the negligent party responsible for the car accident. Alternatively, your attorney might hold off on filing the lawsuit, waiting to see if you reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company.
- Your lawyer will investigate your car accident, gathering evidence to support your claim of negligence, causation, injury, and damages.
- Your attorney will calculate your full damages—including all the losses you stand to face in the future for your injury.
- Your lawyer will contact the company that insures the negligent party who caused the car accident. The conversation will include a presentation of facts regarding the policyholder’s liability. Your attorney will also present a demand letter specifying the amount of compensation you are seeking.
- Negotiations begin. The insurance company will likely respond with a counteroffer, and your lawyer will fight to bring this amount up to the fair amount you deserve.
- Eventually, your lawyer and the insurance company reach a settlement agreement. The terms for the compensation are drafted, and the policyholder is released from all future liability for your car accident injuries.
- Everyone signs on the dotted line. This includes you, the negligent party, the insurance company reps, and all the lawyers involved in the case.
- If the insurance carrier refuses to agree to a fair settlement, your lawyer will now file a lawsuit (if they have not done so already) to have the matter litigated in a civil court.
- As the plaintiff, you file a complaint, and the defendant will likely file an answer to the complaint.
- Pretrial proceedings begin, kicking off the discovery process.
- Through it all, continued settlement negotiations take place. Most likely, you will reach a settlement during this stage after the defense counsel has seen all the evidence you will be presenting to the jury.
- In the rare event that the matter proceeds to trial, the jury will hear the case and decide whether the defendant is liable and, if so, how much they shall award you.
- The court enters a final judgment and award.
- The defendant has the right to appeal the court’s decision.
- If the jury does not find the defendant liable for your injury, you will not receive an award.
Our car accident lawyers will handle every step of the process for you
As you can see, the complexity of pursuing compensation after a car accident is complex—whether it ends with an insurance settlement or moves on to civil court.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine. Our car accident lawyers will handle every step of this process for you and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Call us today for a free consultation: 1-800-747-3733.