Last Update: 01/25/16
When someone in Florida is in a car crash, has an accident on the road, suffers an injury from falling poolside, slips on a grocery store floor, or otherwise is hurt and seriously injured, one of the first things to happen is that Florida personal injury laws are triggered. Negligence claim filing requirements, strict liability notices, statute of limitations, and defective products protections — injured people and accident victims in Florida can depend upon longstanding statutes and case law to help them in recovering financially from whatever has happened to them.
Usually, insurance policies come into play. Sometimes, several different insurance policies are involved. The insurance companies will have defense counsel who are experienced in dealing with injury claims, they will have a routine, a standard strategy in negotiating and finalizing accident claims and injury demands. Rarely, are they in a hurry to settle (although this is not always the case).
For injury victims and their families, the accident has been life-changing. There are immediate concerns, like paying bills when someone cannot work because they are in the hospital. There are worries about medical care and long-term therapy and other large financial expenses. Injury victims feel pressure to move claims and cases forward as fast as possible, and it’s understandable that they want to get this bad chapter in their lives behind them as fast as they can.
However, for both sides — the insurance defense counsel and the injury victim (and their lawyer) — the reality is that Florida law must be followed and the process is not speedy.
Florida Civil Procedure for Injury Claims: Cases Take Time Under Standard Court Rules
All civil cases must follow civil procedural law. If a case is filed at the courthouse, then the defendant has a set number of days to respond. When the injury victim requests documents (say, an accident report or investigative file) from the insurance company lawyer, that can take over a month to receive because of standard discovery time tables set up in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
For example (emphasis added):
(a) …. The party to whom the interrogatories are directed shall serve the answers and any objections within 30 days after the service of the interrogatories, except that a defendant may serve answers or objections within 45 days after service of the process and initial pleading upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The party submitting the interrogatories may move for an order under rule 1.380(a) on any objection to or other failure to answer an interrogatory.
Building an Injury Case Takes Time
Additionally, the time needed to build a case for settlement or trial takes time. Witnesses have to be located; documents have to be organized; investigations have to be performed; experts need to finalize opinions.
Doctors may take some time before they can give an opinion on the long term care needs of a patient, for instance. However, it is imperative to have that final determination in order to request the proper amount be paid by those responsible for the injuries.
It may take many months or even a year or two in a complex case to get the plaintiff’s case fully prepared for trial or final settlement negotiation. This can be frustrating to families, but the judicial system simply does not move quickly.
Aggressive Lawyers Can Help Here
One important key here is to have the case take only as long as the facts require it to take. Some injury lawyers are known for aggressively moving cases forward and taking cases to trial. Our law firm is known for this stance.
Having a personal injury lawyer that is geared to trying cases means his or her docket moves faster — and that the insurance defense lawyers are aware that they are dealing with a trial lawyer who goes to court regularly. This can be a factor in settlement from the defense perspective.
Sadly, there are law firms in this country that are “settlement mills” … they will take longer on cases because they want to avoid the time and expense and pressure of going to trial.
In answer to the question “why is it taking so long to settle my case?” the reality is that the process isn’t a fast one and time is needed to get all the facts together and the evidence ready to go; and that the aggressiveness of the plaintiff’s lawyer can also be a factor in how fast an injury claim is resolved.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- What is My Injury Claim Worth and How Can I Get Maximum Compensation for My Injury Case?
- Can A Prior Injury Lawsuit Hurt Or Lessen My New Personal Injury Claim?
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.