Last Update: 12/26/16
How long does it take to get the money for an accident claim in Florida?
When someone is hurt in an accident and they believe that they have a injury claim for damages, one of their first questions they ask is “when”? When will they be paid on that claim?
The answer depends on a few factors, including:
1. The Amount of Time to Determine The Full Extent Of Your Injuries
When you are in an accident, you’re hurt. Your first priority has to be getting better, recovering from your injuries. Getting back to work, much less getting out of bed; being able to perform daily tasks like dressing yourself, cooking dinner, driving a car — these can be real problems to face. Even a broken arm or a fractured leg can cramp the accident victim’s life.
It takes time to determine the full extent of your injury. Are there any activities that you won’t be able to do any longer after you recover? What, if any, permanent injuries do you have? Only time will tell.
2. Time to Learn You Have a Claim
Once you’ve begun to deal with your injuries, then you can begin to deal with the aftermath of your accident. Do you have a claim? Against who, and for what?
Insurance adjusters may approach you after you’ve been hurt. The insurance company may have people in your face to try and settle your claim before you’ve had a chance to think about things or to fully recover from your injuries. There are stories of adjusters trying to settle claims while accident victims are still in pain, laying in their hospital bed!
Don’t trust the insurance company to be acting in your best interests. They are acting in the company’s best interests, not yours. It’s their goal to settle all accident claims as fast as they can for as little as possible.
That means you need to learn about your situation and determine what your legal rights and remedies are for yourself. Look for yourself, don’t rely on how things look from the insurance adjuster’s viewpoint.
3. Get a Lawyer and Determine Your Legal Rights
This may mean finding an injury lawyer to help you. An experienced Florida accident lawyer will be willing to talk with you over the telephone to answer your basic questions. He will also be willing to meet with you for free.
In fact, your Florida injury lawyer should be willing (as we are) to take your case on a “contingency basis,” meaning the lawyer isn’t paid unless and until you get that claim paid.
Working together, you and your injury attorney can determine what laws help your situation. Is it a basic accident claim for personal injury damages? Is there a product defect involved? What defendants are responsible (the driver, the owner of the vehicle, maybe others)? Where were you treated for your injuries? Did you go to the hospital? How long did you stay there? Did you have surgery? Do you have your medical records? Do you have medical insurance? Who paid for your care? These questions all must be asked and answered and the paperwork supporting your answers must be obtained and evaluated.
4. Time Deadlines
Under Florida law, there is a deadline to file your injury claim. When that deadline expires depends upon the facts of your case (this is called “when your cause of action accrues”).
Factors here include the date of the accident, the kind of accident where you were hurt, and if a death was involved. As a general rule, there is a 4 year deadline to file accident injury claims. Wrongful death cases must be filed within 2 years.
You (and/or your lawyer) will need to file your claim before this deadline passes or it will be lost (no matter how valid it is). Again, even though you or your lawyer file a claim right away, you still may not know the full extent of your damages because you haven’t fully recovered from your injuries.
5. Time to Fight the Defendants
It’s rare for the defendants to immediately pull out their checkbooks and ask “how much” after you assert a claim against them. They will fight even if they know that at some point, they will have to pay you money.
You will have to fight for your rights, either in settlement negotiations and mediation through filing a lawsuit and even going through a full jury trial. This does take more time, but it’s important to be ready to do it.
The key here is having a Florida injury lawyer who is willing to take a case to trial. Too many injury lawyers are looking to settle cases rather than take a stand when it’s right to do so and go into court for their client.
The insurance companies rub their hands together, waiting to make a deal when they know a lawyer’s reputation is to avoid going to court for trial. Insurance companies love to work with them.
6. Getting Paid On Your Claim
There’s no standard answer to the question “when do I get paid on my injury claim” — each case is different. We know that injury victims want to heal and get back to their regular routines as fast as possible, and they want to get their claims done fast, too.
However, it’s important to understand fully what your situation involves and the extent of liability and damages involved in your circumstances (and the extent of your permanent injury, if any). Medical records will need to be reviewed, for example. The accident site will need to be investigated as well as the event itself.
- Did you fall off a faulty scaffold? Did your employer or the contractor know about the safety hazard?
- Where you involved in a car crash where a recalled car was involved? Should the car maker get a claim notice from you?
- Did you slip and fall on grease left on the floor at a chain restaurant? Have others been injured like this before and nothing was done to fix it?
Our office generally does not recommend a fast settlement just to get things done quickly. We believe that an injured party needs time to completely heal to determine their loss. Medical records must be obtained and reviewed by your lawyer and, in some cases, by a medical expert. Also, most injuries need to be properly investigated in order to determine all of the responsible parties. We believe patience is critical for our clients to recover fair and reasonable compensation for their injuries.
Patience pays for our clients. We take pride in working hard for justice and sometimes that takes some time.
What Should You Do?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed in an accident, is to 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.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.