A car accident can settle at any point between when you first make a claim with the insurance company and during the trial. Here are the five primary stages at which a car accident will typically settle:
- You notify the insurance company of your injuries. It gets a copy of the police report and, shortly after that, offers you a check. Thisis usually the worst time to settle your accident claim because you rarely know the full extent of your injuries at this point. You should be patient and resist the temptation to grab the quick money.
You will regret it if you find out later that you should have gotten more money or that your injuries are worse than you thought. Always talk with a lawyer before you sign any papers or agree to settle your car accident case. This stage can last just a few weeks to several months.
- Your hire a lawyer who negotiates with the insurance company. You complete your medical treatment and know how your injuries will impact your life. The lawyer gathers together the proof of your damages, such as your medical bills and lost wages, and negotiates a fair settlement with the insurance company. This stage can go on for several to many months.
- Your lawyer files a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Your lawyer negotiated with the insurance company, but it refused to offer you a fair settlement, so your lawyer had no choice but to file suit to protect your right to compensation. You only have a limited amount of time (the statute of limitations in Floridais four years) to bring a lawsuit, and if that time passes without your lawyer filing a lawsuit for you, the insurance company will have no incentive to pay you anything, because it knows you cannot sue for it.
You can still settle your claim after your lawyer files suit, however. This stage can be several months in length.
- Your lawsuit is going through the pre-trial stage of discovery. During this aspect of the case, both sides try to find out as much relevant information as they can. Interrogatories, depositions, documents exchanges, and other discovery takes place to prepare for trial. The vast majority of cases settle during this portion of the case, as the parties learn more information and can better fix a value on the case. This stage can last a year or longer.
- Your trial begins. Many cases settle “on the courthouse steps.” In other instances, claims settle during the trial because things went well or went terribly forone side.
If the trial finishes without a settlement, the judge or jury will decide as to how much money the insurance company will have to pay you. The time for settlement is over, and the case will turn on what the judge or jury decides.
The car accident lawyers at the Montero Law Center would be happy to talk with you about your injury claim. Call us today at 954-767-6500, and we will line up your no-cost case evaluation.