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The Car Accident Legal Process Explained

The details of your car accident legal process depend a lot on causation, liability, and other details. If the settlement offer seems too low, it can affect the length of your claim. Additionally, if both parties refuse to come to a compromise, this may also be cause for trial. 

Understand the car accident legal process in Florida to make a better decision overall. Having this idea can help you retain the best counsel and receive the best settlement possible. Read on to get prepared for your legal claim and what your lawyer can do for you. 

The Claim Process

Car accident claims begin when you or your lawyer notify the responsible party’s insurance company that the claim is being presented. In Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the other party or you can lose your right to do so.

An investigation is performed once the claim is filed. This will look into any treatments you’ve had, the damages sustained by the vehicles involved, and more. This investigation is generally done by the insurance adjuster for the responsible party. The same investigation is done by your attorney. 

The attorney you’re working with will monitor your medical diagnosis and journey, and obtain documents necessary to the case, photographs, wage records, medical reports, and estimates for the case. They can demand a settlement on your behalf for the insured’s policy limits or other amounts to the extent of your injuries and the specific liability limits.

Litigation in Florida

If the claim you bring up does not settle outside of a trial, you will have to file a lawsuit. Once this is filed and the summons and complaint are served, the discovery process will begin. This process includes:

  • A demand for documents pertaining to the accident, such as the crash report filed by either party
  • Notices served to the witnesses and experts involved in the incident
  • Medical examinations of those harmed in the accident
  • Requests to perform any tests on the vehicles involved if there are further issues

The parties involved can try to resolve the case before they go to trial by submitting a mediation request. This is where a neutral party, usually an attorney, will listen to the evidence presented by either side and see if there is an agreement both parties can come to. If this doesn’t help matters, your lawyer will represent you in the courtroom. 

Options for Arbitration Following an Accident

Arbitration is another option that both parties have the option of choosing to settle the case. It can be binding or non-binding arbitration

Non-binding arbitration is essentially a mini-trial held with an arbitrator ruling on all the evidence presented and then issuing an award to the party, or a non-award, depending on the evidence. Both parties have the option of rejecting the offer and proceeding to trial

Binding arbitration is held before one or many arbitrators, depending on the size of the case. The most important distinction between the two, however, is that binding arbitration requires you to waive your right to a trial. That means your case may settle more quickly, but if your case doesn’t work in your favor, you may not have a chance to request a trial. 

Otherwise, the judge for a trial has the chance to attempt to settle the case with pretrial conferences before the actual trial. Having your case actually go to trial can take months or years because of the backlog of civil cases. 

If a large company is named in the suit such as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), it may take even longer because of the evidence that is necessary to file against them. Having a trial can leave the case up in question. Talk to your lawyer about your best options when pursuing compensation.

Consult with an Attorney That Knows the Process

Few attorneys want to take cases to trial and often look to settle rather than take a chance with a jury. If you’ve been in a car accident in Florida, it is important to speak with a proven litigator in the state who can provide the help you need with experience in car accidents, not just settle for what the defense is willing to pay. 

Allow our attorneys here at Gross & Schuster, P.A. to negotiate a reasonable settlement on your behalf for your car accident claim or represent you in court if the at-fault party refuses to pay fairly. Contact us today at 850-434-3333 for an evaluation and to speak about the claim you may have. We are here to offer you the advice you seek. 

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