Every case has unique facts that make it impossible to predict the time to settle the case. Florida’s no-fault insurance system can also add to the time it takes to settle car accident cases. In many cases, you will start with your no-fault insurer before filing a claim with the at-fault party’s insurer.
Here is some information about insurance claim processing and how long it may take to settle a personal injury case in Florida.
Florida Insurance Claim Laws
Like most states, Florida has laws that set out an insurer’s obligations while processing claims. These obligations apply to your auto insurer as they payout for no-fault claims. They also apply to liability insurers paying claims to accident victims for claims arising from slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, car accidents, and other forms of negligence.
In a best-case scenario, insurers in Florida could settle a claim in 64 days. This time breaks down as follows:
- 14 days to acknowledge notice of the claim and send out the proof of claim forms
- 30 days to accept or deny the claim after receiving the completed proof of claim forms
- 20 days to pay the claim after accepting it
This timeline makes several assumptions. First, it assumes that you have everything ready when you receive the proof of claim forms and can turn them around within a day. This rarely happens.
Second, this timeline only works if you send everything needed to process your claim. If you omit any documents, the insurer can delay a decision until you provide the missing information.
Third, the insurer does not need to accept a claim in its entirety. Instead, it can accept part of a claim and deny the rest of the claim. This usually sets up a negotiation between your lawyer and the insurer to try to reach a fair compromise.
Finally, it misses the insurer’s incentive to pay out as little as possible for claims. The insurer may try to use every tactic it can to slow down the process. They may hope that you will become desperate enough to accept a low settlement.
A Realistic Timeframe to Settle an Auto Injury Case
If your injury resulted from a car accident, you probably need to start your claim with your auto insurer. You can only file a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability policy for damages that your no-fault insurance failed to cover.
Since you might have two separate claims for your auto accident, you can expect the time to settle all of your claims to take twice as long as claims for other types of accidents.
In other words, even if your claims go extraordinarily fast, you should expect your no-fault claim to take at least 64 days, as described above, and your at-fault claim to take another 64 days.
But realistically, neither of these claims will settle that quickly. Both claims will probably take months, rather than weeks, which means that a final settlement of all of your claims could take a year or more after your accident.
No-Fault Claim Timeline
You will file a claim under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage after a car accident. Florida requires this insurance for all vehicle owners. Your PIP benefits will pay 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost income while you recover from your injuries.
Your insurer pays these benefits regardless of fault. You will receive $10,000 in benefits before hitting your policy limit (unless you have higher policy limits).
You will file your claim with copies of your medical records, medical bills, and wage records to prove your losses and show that they stemmed from your auto accident. Once you prove your losses, your insurer has 30 days to accept or deny your claim.
Your insurer can also accept part of your claim and deny part of your claim. This could happen if the insurer believes:
- Some of your injuries were not caused by the accident
- Your medical treatment was not necessary
- You missed work for reasons other than your injury
Since the insurer does not need to investigate fault, it can pay PIP claims faster. But even in a best-case scenario, you and your injury lawyer will probably need to negotiate with your insurer to make sure it covers as many of your injury-related expenses as possible.
Auto Liability Claim Timeline
If you hit your policy limits and still have additional losses, you can file a claim against the at-fault party’s auto insurer.
You can also file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurer if you suffer a permanent and significant injury, including:
- Loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Scarring or disfigurement
When you file your claim with the at-fault party’s liability insurer, your timeline starts all over again. This insurer has not seen this claim before, so it will require proof of your losses, including medical records, bills, and income statements.
Unlike your no-fault insurer, this insurer will investigate fault. This means the insurer will seek witness statements, police reports, and photos from the accident scene.
The insurer might even ask you to give a recorded statement and imply that your statement will help it process the claim faster. However, you are not obligated to provide a recorded statement to the insurer. In fact, it may be best to avoid doing so, as these recordings can be used against you.
The time to process these claims will take time. Even when the insurer acts diligently and in good faith, months could pass while the insurer collects all the information to accept or deny a claim.
Even when the insurer accepts the claim, it will usually make a low settlement offer. You and your injury attorney will need to negotiate with the insurer to get an offer that’s fair enough to settle the claim.
This will typically include a combination of providing additional evidence and persuading the insurer that it risks losing in court.
The Role of the Lawyer in Settling a Personal Injury Case
In some situations, an injury lawyer can speed up the timeline. Insurers usually avoid playing games when a lawyer represents you because they do not want to risk violating Florida’s claim handling laws.
A lawyer also knows how to document a case so the insurer can process the claim quickly, rather than repeatedly asking for more information.
To discuss how a lawyer can help settle your personal injury case, contact Shaked Law Firm for a free consultation.