How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take in Florida?30Mar
People facing physical, emotional, and financial challenges after a car accident in Florida often ask, “how long does a car accident settlement take?” The simple answer is that it depends on the facts and unique circumstances of the case. Some cases can take a few weeks to settle, while others can drag on for years before reaching a settlement. Certain factors and complications, including but not limited to legal issues, the severity of your injuries, the settlement amount involved, and whether a skilled lawyer is involved, can impact the timeline of your car accident settlement.
Factors that Impact How Long a Car Accident Settlement Takes
The Type and Severity of Your Injuries
Car accidents often cause a wide range of injuries. The type and seriousness of your injuries directly affect your car accident settlement timeline. It is essential to wait until you attain maximum medical improvement (MMI) before settling your injury claim. MMI describes a point where your medical provider declares that your injury or condition cannot improve further.
It is important to note that MMI does not imply that full recovery has been achieved. An injury may leave you with a permanent disability or impairment that cannot improve, even with additional medical care.
It is hard to determine all your damages before fully recovering or reaching MMI. For this reason, your case might take quite a while to settle if you are dealing with severe injuries. You may also need to hire a medical expert witness to testify about the type and seriousness of your injuries.
Settling your case before completing your treatment or reaching MMI can result in a low settlement. You might have to pay for future medical bills and other expenses related to car accident injuries out of pocket.
Whether an Auto Accident Lawyer is Involved
A Clearwater car accident lawyer who has resolved cases like yours can determine how long your case will take to settle. Of course, the lawyer will need to analyze facts and available evidence. The lawyer can also speed up the claims process by submitting all the required documentation, persistently following up with the insurance company, and handling setbacks soon after they arise. So, ensure you get legal advice and aggressive representation from a seasoned lawyer when pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses after a car crash.
Available Insurance Coverage
Under Florida’s no-fault laws, your insurance company is responsible for paying for your medical expenses and other financial losses, irrespective of who was responsible for the accident. As such, every motorist must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance of $10,000 or more.
Your first option to recover compensation after a car accident in Florida is to file a claim against your PIP insurance carrier. PIP claims do not compensate you for your pain and suffering and other intangible losses arising from your accident. You can, however, recover these damages by suing the other driver if your injuries satisfy the threshold specified by state law.
Carrying a liability insurance policy is optional for Florida drivers. So, your auto accident lawyer will have to find out whether the other driver has insurance coverage that can cover your losses. The lawyer can then decide whether to initiate an insurance claim or sue the other driver directly.
The Size of the Insurance Company Involved
The size of the insurance company involved in your car accident case may also affect the settlement timeline. A large insurance company will have enough financial resources and a battalion of seasoned attorneys to investigate your case and fight your efforts to recover compensation.
A smaller insurance company may be more willing to settle fast to avoid the costs of defending a lawsuit. Work with an aggressive car accident lawyer to maximize your settlement, whether you are dealing with a large or small insurer.
Sufficient evidence, including a police report, surveillance camera footage, and medical records, is necessary to prove your claim. Some auto accident investigations are straightforward and take days or a few weeks to complete. An example is when video recording from a traffic or security camera displaying how the crash happened is available. Another example is when the other motorist admits liability for the accident.
Auto accident investigations can also be involving and lengthy. An example is when multiple vehicles are involved. Another example is when all the drivers involved in the crash hold some percentage of liability for the accident.
Your lawyer may need to involve experts to help with the investigation if there are no video evidence and witness statements. An accident reconstructionist team analyzes available evidence and specifics of your crash to recreate how the accident happened. The team then determines the factors that caused the crash.
Accident reconstruction may, for instance, be necessary in a case involving distracted driving. It may show that the liable motorist did not swerve or step on the brakes before the collision, indicating that the driver was not paying attention to the driving task.
Obtaining Medical Records and Bill Receipts
Obtaining all the required medical documents and bill receipts can also affect how long your case will take to settle. This process could take plenty of time if you had a lengthy treatment or consulted multiple medical practitioners or facilities.
The process can also involve a lengthy follow-up with your treating doctors. The reason is that most hospitals and medical clinics do not have a specific department dedicated to handling medical document requests.
The Settlement Amount Involved
The insurance company may take time to investigate your claim if you are pursuing a large settlement amount. The company may also hire experts to investigate your claim and gather evidence to help it undervalue or deny it altogether.
Do not accept a low settlement offer because you are impatient or afraid of losing if the matter goes to court. Instead, let your lawyer look at the settlement offer and advise you on the next course of action.
Complications That Can Delay Your Car Accident Settlement
Legal or Factual Issues
Your car accident settlement can delay if determining liability is hard. This is especially the case when little or no evidence is available. Proving liability in cases involving multiple at-fault parties is not an easy task, as well.
Insurance companies are for-profit entities. They make profits by investing the premiums they charge their policyholders in other avenues. Claims are one of the expenses these companies strive to reduce to increase their profits. As such, the companies have multiple internal protocols to cut their expenses.
Different teams may handle your claim at different stages of its life. For instance, customer care representatives will give you all the information you need to initiate the claims process. The insurance adjuster and the legal team will handle negotiations with your lawyer. If negotiations are successful, the settlement agreement will proceed to another department for payment.
Insurance Bad Faith
Your car accident claim can take longer than necessary to settle if the insurance company is engaging in bad faith practices. Excessive requests for documents and intentional delays in processing your claim are some signs that an insurer might be acting in bad faith.
A Motion to Dismiss
Insurance companies often try to get a case dismissed before the discovery stage. They do this by filing motions to dismiss. Your lawyer must demonstrate that your case is valid to proceed to trial. As such, a motion to dismiss causes unnecessary delays in your car accident settlement process.
What Happens When Car Accident Settlement Negotiations Are Unsuccessful?
The following options can be helpful when car accident settlement negotiations are unsuccessful:
Contact the Adjuster’s Supervisor
Senior staff members within the insurance company might give you a more reasonable settlement offer if negotiations with the adjuster handling your claim fail. These staff members include the adjuster’s supervisor and the claims manager.
Suggest to your adjuster that a different opinion may be necessary if settlement talks have stalled or failed. Ask the adjuster to request the claims supervisor to review your claim. Requesting the adjuster to escalate the issue to the supervisor may compel the adjuster to increase the settlement offer.
Contact the claims supervisor if the adjuster is reluctant to do that on your behalf. You can obtain the supervisor’s contact information from the company’s website or from customer care representatives.
Inform the supervisor of the number of times you have held settlement talks with the adjuster without reaching an agreement. Be sure to mention any improper negotiation tricks the adjuster might have employed during your interactions.
Keep logs of your communications with the supervisor. You might need them during your next steps if the supervisor fails to offer you a reasonable settlement. Your next steps might include contacting the claims manager or filing a lawsuit.
Contact the Claims Manager
Ask the supervisor to provide you with the name and contact details of the claims manager. Call or write to the claims manager explaining the hassles you have gone through with the adjuster and supervisor. Request the manager to review your claim and approve a more reasonable settlement offer.
File a Lawsuit
Filing a car accident lawsuit is the final step after exhausting all options for reaching a settlement agreement with the insurer. Your lawyer will help you navigate the entire lawsuit process, from filing a complaint and serving the defendant to conducting discovery and arguing your case at trial.