What Is the Typical Timeline for a Personal Injury Claim in Florida From the Time of the Accident Through Settlement or Litigation?
People who had their lives disrupted by an accident often want to know how long a settlement or lawsuit will take. Since every case is different, there is no definite amount of time that a case will be resolved. I would say from experience that the average Florida injury lawsuit takes nine to eighteen months. Even though cases vary in the length of time required, the lawsuit process is similar. A typical Florida accident case timelines progresses through the same steps, with the lawsuit acting like a speed bump in the case resolution process.
The first steps after an accident
The first step of an accident case occurs before the lawyer is contacted. Immediately after the accident, the injured person should get medical treatment. The health of the injured person is top priority. The medical treatment starts the person on the road to recovery. In regards to the lawsuit, the initial medical treatment is the beginning of the medical records that may be necessary for the lawsuit.
Contacting a personal injury lawyer in Florida
Any person injured in an accident should consult with an experienced Florida attorney. The attorney will explain the Florida accident case timeline and what to expect. Attorneys gather the necessary information such as the medical records and police reports. The attorney investigates the accident and analyzes the case.
In many cases, a fair settlement that is acceptable to both parties can be reached prior to a lawsuit being filed. The attorney would be in contact with the insurance company to try to obtain a fair settlement. An experienced injury lawyer in Florida should be well versed in accident claim settlement techniques to help obtain the most money for you. A goal of settlement is threefold: to pay all of your medical bills so you don't owe any more money, to pay your lawyer's fees and costs, and to walk away with money for your own pain and suffering and reimbursement of out of pocket expenses and losses.
A lawsuit may be filed if a personal injury settlement cannot be reached
The case generally ends up in Court if a settlement can't be reached. The lawsuit starts with the filing of a lawsuit against the potentially responsible parties. A process server generally picks up the lawsuit and serves it on the at fault party, known as the Defendant. once served, the Defendant typically gives the lawsuit to his insurance company, who then hires a lawyer to defend the accident case.
The pretrial phase
The pretrial phase includes discovery and motion practice to get the case ready for trial. During the pre-trial discovery stage, the attorneys share any information relevant to the case. Prior to a trial, the Court will often require the parties to go to mediation. Mediation is a meeting to attempt to reach a settlement to avoid a trial. A settlement recommendation may be made by the mediator, or he may help bring the parties closer together in settlement demands and offers.
The personal injury trial
If a settlement still cannot be reached, a trial is necessary.The trial date is set by the court. Personal injury trials can last one day or thirty days or more. Most common slip and fall or car accident trials last three to five days from our experience and research. At trial, the judge or jury decides the percentage of fault, if any, on the alleged at fault party, and then issues a money award. Based on comparative fault, the judge may reduce the total money award.
The appeals process
Even if you win at trial, the losing party may appeal the verdict or some issues from the case. The appellate process may take another year or more to get resolved. The appeal may be sustained and you could win, or it could be reversed and you may need to try the case over.
All of these steps may not be necessary for some Florida accident cases. The time it takes to complete each of the steps depends on the complexity of the case. The extent of the victims injuries can affect the length of time to complete some of the steps. An experienced attorney will not rush through the stages of the case in order to push for a quick resolution. The attorney methodologically follows the case process to seek the best settlement for the injured party.
The case may progress through the steps of the Florida accident case timeline smoothly and fairly quickly. Sometimes, one of the stages seems to stall the progress. The case may have rapid progression to trial only to be delayed by the trial date. Each Florida injury lawsuit is different. An experienced attorney can ensure that the case progresses as smoothly and swiftly as possible through the necessary steps.
Since most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, there is little incentive to drag your case on longer than necessary. We don't get paid by the hour and try to work hard to get the best personal injury settlement for you in as short of a time as possible.