How Long Does a Personal Injury Claim Take in Florida?
After suffering an injury that was someone else’s fault, victims want to file a personal injury claim and collect money as soon as possible. After all, most personal injury victims face lost wages and mounting medical bills almost immediately. Time spent recovering from an unexpected injury is time spent falling into debt, in many situations. Florida personal injury victims seek to know how long it takes to recover money and obtain justice in a personal injury claim.
The answer to this question depends on the situation. Most personal injury claims are settled within one year, if not sooner. A straightforward claim with well-documented injuries and clear liability can settle within the first six months. In situations where the injuries are severe and complex, a personal injury case could proceed for 2-3 years before it is finally resolved at trial.
Where does your claim fall within this range? The proven South Florida personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law, P.A., can help explain where your claim stands and determine the best path for a fair, full – and fast – financial recovery. One approach that can certainly delay collection of funds you deserve is failing to retain a skilled personal injury attorney at the start of your potential case. Waiting on the wrongdoer or their insurer to reimburse you is a sure way to postpone your payment or abandon your claim entirely.
Understanding the Personal Injury Claim Process in Florida
The clock starts ticking on a personal injury claim from the moment an accident or injury happens. From that point, time is critical, and the first days or weeks after an injury are important times to collect information and start building a case. Information gathering in the early stages sets the tone for a quicker – and more substantial – recovery in a Florida personal injury claim.
Starting the claim soon is also essential for legal reasons. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida is 4 years, in most cases. In other personal injury cases, such as claims involving medical malpractice or wrongful death, the Florida statute of limitations is only 2 years. The statute of limitations normally begins running on the date the injury occurred or was discovered by the victim.
Early Stages of a Personal Injury Claim in Florida
The first step toward effective recovery is to hire a skilled personal injury attorney that knows what information to collect, and where to find it. An experienced South Florida personal injury law firm will have the knowledge and resources to succeed where many others fail or fall short.
The next step involves gathering the information needed to start the case and file your claim. When you’ve identified the proper defendant and assembled the basic facts of the case, your attorney will file a complaint and summons with the court. The complaint does not need to include every fact needed to prove the claim at trial. Rather, it must set forth the essential facts and explain the elements needed to prove liability in a Florida personal injury claim.
These 4 elements to establish negligence in Florida are:
- Duty; that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care. This can be a duty to provide adequate medical care to a patient, for example, or a duty to drive carefully and avoid hitting other cars or people.
- Breach; that the defendant breached their duty of care to the plaintiff. A shop owner that failed to fix a hole in their floor breached their duty of care to incoming shoppers, for example.
- Causation; that the defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury, and there was no other intervening cause.
- Damages; that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Damages can be shown through tangible figures such as medical bills or lost wages, or through intangibles such as pain and suffering, or mental anguish.
In some situations, it can be possible to reach a settlement before a lawsuit is even filed. A personal injury lawyer might obtain a fair settlement by issuing a demand letter to the wrongdoer in the weeks or months following the injury. Unless they are suing a government entity, potential plaintiffs are not usually required to send a demand letter or notice of claim before suing.
After a complaint is filed and served on the defendant, the burden shifts to the other side to answer the complaint. Once the defendant engages, the case will proceed to initial court appearances and pretrial hearings.
The Discovery Process in a Florida Personal Injury Claim
What is “discovery”? Discovery is a catch-all term referring to the ways either side of a lawsuit can get information about the other side’s case. An effective plaintiff’s personal injury attorney will take advantage of various discovery tools to obtain crucial information the other side would otherwise hide from the plaintiff.
Discovery tools in a Florida personal injury case can include:
- Interrogatories; Interrogatories are sets of questions that one party can send to another during a case, demanding that they truthfully answer the questions provided. These can help a plaintiff pin down information and build the story of their case.
- Requests to Produce; Like interrogatories, requests for production of documents require the responding side to provide documents they have in their possession that are relevant to the case. As more information gets turned over, the plaintiff can further add to the facts supporting their theory.
- Depositions; Depositions are a way to get sworn testimony from a party or potential witness outside of a courtroom. Deposition testimony is admissible in court and can help prove either side’s case during a potential trial.
Pretrial Stages and Motion Hearings in a Florida Personal Injury Claim
During the initial weeks or months of a personal injury case, pretrial conferences might be held before the judge, or parties might file motions regarding the case. Motions are designed to advance a party’s claim, and can help speed up the resolution of a case. A defendant, for example, will normally file a Motion to Dismiss the plaintiff’s claim, asking a judge to end the case due to lack of evidence. A plaintiff, on the other hand, might file a Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that the court should grant judgment in their favor without the need to take a case to trial.
Pretrial matters and especially motion hearings can determine the speed and outcome of a Florida personal injury case. Many times, the outcome of a motion hearing – or the mere filing of a motion – can encourage a defendant to settle the matter and end the case short of trial. This is where it helps to have a premier South Florida legal team on your side. The personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law have proven experience preparing pretrial strategies that yield positive results for their clients.
Settlement of Claims in a Personal Injury Case
Well over 90% of personal injury claims settle before going to trial. Settlements happen for various reasons and depend on the facts and nature of a case. Often, as more information becomes available during a case, attorneys for each side can assess the value of the case and likely outcome at trial.
Defendants will often find they are exposed to liability at trial and offer payment to end a case before they find themselves on the hook for an even larger sum. Plaintiffs, meanwhile, might find it beneficial to settle for a fair amount before risking the possibility of a loss at trial – and recovery of nothing.
Realistically, settlement can happen at any stage of litigation but normally will occur during the pretrial phases of a case if it does happen. This could be anywhere between 2-12 months from the time a case is filed.
Factors Affecting Payment of Personal Injury Claims in Florida
Most personal injury claimants care little about the details of the litigation process. They want to know how and when they will receive payment for their injuries. Overall, this will depend on the nature of the injuries, the complexities of the case, the available evidence, and the defendant’s ability to pay.
A defendant with deep pockets might seek to cut litigation short and move on with their business. Other defendants might fight tooth and nail and delay as much as they can because they cannot afford to pay toward a settlement or jury verdict. Even if a verdict is entered in a plaintiff’s favor, some defendants can be slow to pay or even “uncollectible” based on their assets or lack thereof. An effective personal injury will be able to assess the likelihood (and possible amount) of collection at the outset of a case.
What to Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida
Some firms promise high payouts and quick settlements for your personal injury claim. Be cautious when considering an attorney that promises these things. To get the most out of your personal injury claim, you must have patience and an understanding of the process. To get the claim you deserve, work with a law firm that has proven results, and knows how to approach each step of a case carefully and effectively.
At the Rosen Injury Law, P.A., Our Team’s Goal is to Get the Best Result in Your Personal Injury Claim
Knowing where to start can be intimidating for a personal injury victim. Starting somewhere is the key to a fair and timely recovery, however, and nobody knows that better than the South Florida legal team at Rosen Injury Law, P.A. Our attorneys have proven experience and will do everything possible to ensure a full and fair recovery in your case. Please reach out to our team at any time to discuss your full range of legal options. Feel free to schedule a consultation online, call toll-free at 844-935-1500, or locally at 954-466-9689.
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