Being injured in an accident can turn your world upside down. You may be unable to work and have medical bills to pay. If another party caused your accident or injury, that party could be financially liable for your damages under Florida’s personal injury laws.
A personal injury case may involve a car accident, medical malpractice allegation, slip and fall accident, and many other situations. Regardless of how you were injured, the first step in recovering compensation for your damages is to file a personal injury claim.
However, filing a personal injury claim does not guarantee that you will receive any money. You have the burden of proving causation, negligence, and liability. A personal injury attorney has the resources to investigate and gather evidence proving your claim.
When you hire a personal injury attorney, your attorney begins the process of filing a claim. The claims process could take several months or more than a year, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Factors that could lengthen the timeline of a personal injury case include, but are not limited to:
- The duration of the investigation to gather evidence
- The severity of your injuries
- The parties involved in the case
- Disputes regarding liability
- Allegations of comparative fault
- Whether a government entity is involved in the case
- The willingness of the insurance company to negotiate a fair settlement
If the other party acts in bad faith or refuses to negotiate a fair settlement, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit lengthens the time it takes to resolve a personal injury claim.
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Steps in the Timeline for a Personal Injury Case
The steps in a personal injury case may differ slightly. However, the timeline for an injury case generally includes the following steps:
Seeking Medical Treatment for Injuries
One of the most significant factors in determining the timeline for a personal injury case is your treatment plan. You do not want to settle your claim until your doctor states you reached maximum medical improvement or MMI. Reaching MMI means that no further medical treatment will improve your condition.
If you sustained a permanent disability or impairment, you could be entitled to compensation for the disability. You may also be entitled to future damages for ongoing medical care, lost wages, and personal care. Settling your case too early could result in a much lower payment.
It is wise to seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident. Your medical records are an essential piece of evidence in your personal injury case. Delays in medical care could hurt your chance of recovering a fair settlement for your accident claim.
Investigation to Gather Evidence
The investigation into how your accident occurred could take a few months. Complicated cases involving product liability, comparative negligence, premises liability, government entities, and medical malpractice could take much longer. Your attorney must identify the parties who caused your injury and gather evidence proving fault.
Evidence in a personal injury case could include, but is not limited to:
- Physical evidence
- Copies of police reports and accident reports
- Medical records
- Statements from your physicians
- Information from experts and accident reconstructionists
- Employment and wage records
- Photographs and videos of the accident
Our legal team pursues all leads to gather evidence. During our investigation, we also identify insurance policies that provide liability coverage for your claim. In most cases, the insurance company for the at-fault party handles the claim, including settlement negotiations.
Documenting Damages and Losses
- Medical expenses and bills
- Cost of personal care and nursing care
- Lost income and benefits
- Physical pain and suffering
- Impairments and disabilities
- Reductions in earning potential
- Mental and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
How much your injury claim is worth depends on many factors. Detailed documentation of damages can increase the value of your case. If you sustain permanent impairments, we may consult medical experts and financial professionals to estimate the value of future damages.
The insurance company tries to limit the value of your claim. However, by taking time to document your damages thoroughly, we can justify a higher settlement demand.
Preparing a Settlement Demand Letter
After you complete treatment and we finish the investigation and documentation of damages, we prepare a settlement demand letter. The demand letter discusses the accident and how the other party’s conduct directly led to your injury. In addition, it may reference specific laws that apply to the claim.
The demand letter also discusses your injuries and outlines your damages. Finally, the letter states the amount you agree to accept to settle the injury claim. The attorney may also include copies of medical records and other supporting documentation.
The insurance provider may agree to the settlement demand if there is no dispute regarding liability and the demand is reasonable. However, because the insurance company always wants to save money, it will likely make a counteroffer. At this point, your attorney and the insurance company begin settlement negotiations.
Settlement negotiations could take several months. The parties may agree to submit to mediation. If the other side refuses to negotiate in good faith, it may be time to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Florida’s statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits. If you cannot settle your claim before the deadline, we need to file a lawsuit. There are several phases to a personal injury lawsuit.
Steps in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Filing a complaint
- Receiving a response from the defendant
- Discovery phase
- Settlement negotiations, which could include mediation
- Pre-trial motions
- Trial and appeals
A personal injury lawsuit could take over a year to complete. Fortunately, most personal injury cases settle without filing a lawsuit.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
Our Miami personal injury attorneys work diligently to resolve your personal injury claim as quickly as possible. However, we are committed to investing the time and resources necessary to get you the most money available for your personal injury case.