Unfortunately, car accidents have become part of life in Florida just like anywhere else. As long as you travel in a car, you are prone to an accident happening at any time. It’s important to know what to do when you’re involved in a vehicle accident.
It’s good to understand the fact that not all car accident cases take the same amount of time to be settled neither do they unfold similarly. Your case is unique given the specific circumstances surrounding it. However, it’s possible to identify a generic path that most car accident cases follow. So, what is the expected timeline of a Florida car accident settlement?
Reporting the Case to Law Enforcement Authorities
The law in Florida requires you to report any car accident involving death, injury, or property damage of more than $500 to the law enforcement authorities. The driver is expected to file a crash report for minor accidents that don’t require a comprehensive police report. The crash report should be filed within ten days.
Remember to record the names and contact information for any witnesses, take photographs of the cars, and document the relevant road and weather conditions. Avoid assuming the responsibility of the case even if you feel like you were the one at fault. Some facts may come up later on showing that you were not at fault.
Medical Diagnosis and Treatment
It’s always critical to seek medical attention immediately. Obtaining a timely diagnosis will help ensure that you recover fully while your treatment records will serve as crucial evidence in your claim for compensation. If you take long to see a doctor, your insurance company may find a loophole of arguing that there is no clear correlation between the accident and your injuries. The insurance company may try to use this claim to deny you compensation.
Consult an Attorney
Don’t make a mistake of filing an insurance claim without consulting a lawyer since you risk being denied the compensation or being under-compensated. A car accident lawyer will help you understand what you’re supposed to do to get your rightful compensation. He or she will also protect your rights and handle the various aspects of your case. The attorney will also conduct a thorough investigation that will involve gathering evidence if he or she believes that you have a solid case.
Filing an Insurance Claim
The law in Florida requires the at-fault driver to cover any property damage up to the driver’s insurance policy limit. You need to be carrying your personal injury protection coverage which will cater for the medical expenses. However, the at-fault driver will meet any extra cost if the medical bill is more than $10,000.
Filing a Lawsuit
Sometimes, the insurance company may refuse to negotiate fair settlements which may force your attorney to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. The lawsuit usually begins with the filing of a complaint prepared by your lawyer.
Assuming your insurance company refuses to adhere to the deadlines set out in the complaint, your lawyer will start engaging in several pre-trial practices to strengthen your case. These steps include:
- Participating in arbitration or mediation
- Filing specific motion to exclude inadmissible evidence
- Seeking to limit or expand the scope of trial
- Responding to various motions raised by the insurance company
The attorney will finally take your case to trial if nothing is done by the insurance company to compensate you. The attorney will present all the gathered evidence and allow the insurance company to respond before the judge renders the final verdict.
Have you been involved in a car accident in Northwest Florida? Contact Michael E Fenimore law office for legal assistance. We have a team of experienced professionals who will handle your case and help you get your rightful compensation.