It is very difficult, if not impossible, to predict an accurate timeline for a car accident case.
The following factors could determine how long your case takes to settle:
- The number of responsible parties;
- How cooperative those responsible parties are;
- The amount of money damages you are requesting;
- The ability to negotiate a settlement outside of court; and
- Whether or not you (and your attorney) decide to file a lawsuit.
Moreover, it is not always a good idea to settle your case as quickly as possible. Often, doing so results in accepting less compensation than you deserve, leaving money on the table that you could have received had you let the process play out a little longer.
A skilled car accident lawyer can help you strike the right equilibrium between resolving your case promptly and ensuring that you receive the right compensation.
The following sections describe the typical steps you and your attorney will go through in the process of resolving your car accident claim and getting compensated.
Filing an Insurance Claim
In Florida, the at-fault driver’s insurance should cover your property damage up to the driver’s policy limit. For injury damages, you should be carrying personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of your own policy, which will pay up to $10,000 for medical expenses. Beyond that amount, you can go after the at-fault driver for compensation.
It is a good idea when dealing with insurance companies not to say too much — or, in the case of the other driver’s insurance company, to say nothing at all — before you have first spoken with a lawyer.
The insurance company’s primary objective, rather than helping you, is earning as much of a profit as possible. Accordingly, it is always looking for justification to reduce or deny claim amounts. When you speak to an insurance company representative after an accident, a chance always exists that the representative will find a way to use your words against you.
Your lawyer can file your claim and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, taking great care to see to it that nothing gets said that threatens the value of your claim.
Among the biggest benefits of hiring a lawyer after a car accident is their ability to determine every type of damage and compensation for which you are eligible. These might include:
- Current and future medical bills
- Vehicle repair or replacement
- Other property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages
Once your lawyer reviews the circumstances of your accident and tabulates the total damages you deserve, he or she can request these damages from the appropriate parties, namely the at-fault driver or drivers and their insurance companies.
Negotiating a Settlement
Once you have filed a claim with the insurance companies and requested the full damages for which you are eligible, the negotiation process can begin.
A high-quality attorney will be relentless in this process, fighting aggressively to get you every dollar you deserve. That is a big reason why you should not be overly focused on the timetable. Yes, you want your money fast — after all, your bills do not stop coming in just because you were involved in a wreck – but you do not want it so fast that you agree to the first offer the other party presents. Such an offer most likely falls short of the full compensation you deserve.
Your attorney should stay in communication with you throughout the negotiation process, letting you know the options on the table and giving you some autonomy to decide what you are willing to accept.
Filing a Lawsuit
If out-of-court negotiation does not result in a settlement offer you find acceptable, your attorney might need to file a lawsuit to get you the compensation you deserve. Most likely, your attorney will end up trying your case in front of a jury, having first put together a compelling and thorough list of evidence to show that, one, the other party was indisputably at fault for the crash, and two, your damages represent the full amount you deserve.
To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, call the legal team at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine at 800-747-3733.