If you suffered an injury in a car accident caused by someone else, you may already have expensive medical bills piling up. But, how long does a personal injury settlement take? Depending on your injuries and the duration of your recovery, your case could be resolved in just a few months if you settle your claim instead of going to trial. More complex cases may take longer.
At Cardoso Law, PLLC, we often get questions from accident victims wondering how quickly they can recover compensation through a personal injury settlement. Ultimately, each case is unique, and it is difficult to generalize about how long they may take to resolve. However, talking to an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer will give you a better estimate for your particular case. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Is Florida a No-Fault State?
Yes, Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. Under Florida law, anyone who registers a four-wheel vehicle in the state must maintain a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This no-fault insurance pays 80 percent of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses and 60 percent of lost income and earning capacity up to the policy limits.
When the policyholder is injured in an accident, they must file a claim with their own PIP insurance before turning to the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Filing a claim with your PIP insurance normally means you recover compensation up to the policy limits fairly quickly.
However, accident victims often suffer far more substantial losses than the $10,000 minimum would cover. Fortunately, Florida law permits accident victims to step outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the at-fault party if they suffered:
- Permanent, significant loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury
- Permanent, significant scarring or disfigurement
Filing an insurance claim against the at-fault party’s carrier is a way to pursue compensation for additional medical expenses and other accident-related losses. However, filing an insurance claim with the at-fault party’s insurers can also result in a lengthy investigation, settlement negotiations, and litigation in court.
Proving Liability in a Florida Car Accident Lawsuit
To prove liability in a Florida car accident, you must normally establish that the other party’s negligence caused the accident and your resulting injuries and losses. You must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. Evidence that can help prove liability in a Florida car accident may include things like:
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- Police officer’s crash report
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony
- Medical records
What Is the Timeline of a Car Accident Lawsuit?
Bearing in mind that each case is unique, here is a general timeline to give you an idea of the different stages that may be involved in your car accident lawsuit:
- Medical treatment – Of course, you must first seek medical treatment for your injuries. Not only does medical treatment improve your chances of a full physical recovery, but the medical records prepared by your doctors will also serve as crucial evidence in your case. In Florida, you must seek initial treatment within 14 days of the accident. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need a few days, months, or even years of medical treatment.
- Consultation with a lawyer – Next, you should consult with a lawyer experienced in handling car accident cases. Though you are not legally required to recruit an attorney, it is normally in your best interest to not handle your case on your own. Handing over your case to a skilled attorney will save you time and stress. It will also raise your chances of securing full and fair compensation.
- Investigation – Once you hire a lawyer, they will investigate your case and gather any available evidence to prove the at-fault party’s liability. They will also assess the full extent of your losses, including your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost future earning capacity, pain, and suffering.
- Demand letter – With evidence in hand, your lawyer will write and send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company. It will explain your allegations of how the at-fault party caused the accident and the appropriate amount of compensation that would settle the case.
- Negotiation – Your lawyer and the insurance company may spend weeks or months negotiating a settlement. The vast majority of personal injury cases are resolved through a settlement.
- Lawsuit – If the insurance company does not make a reasonable settlement offer, you and your lawyer will discuss filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Many people hope to avoid a lawsuit. However, they are sometimes necessary. Before filing one, you can discuss the pros and cons with your attorney.
- Discovery – Once the lawsuit is filed, both parties will exchange information, evidence, and documentation in a process known as discovery.
- More negotiation or mediation – As you approach your trial date, the parties may engage in additional negotiations. You may also participate in mediation, in which a neutral third party helps facilitate negotiations and attempts to help the parties reach a settlement.
- Trial – If all negotiations and mediations fail, your case will go to trial. Depending on the case’s complexity, personal injury trials can take a day or several weeks.
- Verdict and judgment – Once the trial concludes, the judge or jury delivers a verdict, finding the defendant liable or not liable for your losses. If the defendant is liable, the court will issue a judgment specifying how much compensation they must pay you.
What Compensation Can I Receive Through a Car Accident Lawsuit?
When you file a car accident lawsuit, you might be eligible to recover compensation for the following accident-related losses:
- Current and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of consortium
What Is the Deadline for Filing My Car Accident Lawsuit?
Under Florida law, car accident victims must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of their injury to recover compensation from the at-fault party. Two years might seem like plenty of time, but it can take lots of time to investigate the accident, gather evidence, and negotiate with at-fault parties. Do not delay in seeking the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer in Florida.
Consult With a Skilled Florida Personal Injury Attorney
The personal injury lawyers at Cardoso Law, PLLC, are standing by to help you get started on the road toward compensation today. We understand that you need money right now to pay your medical bills and care for your family while recovering from your injuries. Let us get to work on your case right away. Contact Cardoso Law, PLLC, today to schedule your free consultation.