A car accident can be extremely traumatizing. Not only is there the initial shock and dismay of the accident, but there can be lasting pain, physical repercussions, emotional trauma, and financial burdens as well. Furthermore, litigation often results from car accidents and litigation can take months or even years to progress. Victims of car accidents often want to know how long their car accident injury case will take. The answer will vary depending on several different factors, including who was at fault, how serious the accident was, whether you settle right away or pursue the case to trial and whether you have an experienced attorney to guide you through the process. Even so, if you have been the victim of a car accident, there are some steps you can take to expedite the judicial process.
Who Was At Fault
One major factor that can lengthen a car accident injury case is whether the fault was clear. If one party admits to being or is clearly shown to be at fault, the case will typically be a shorter case. Insurance companies are eager to settle early when it is clear their insured party is at fault. On the other hand, if it is unclear who was at fault, or the parties involved in the accident each have differing stories of the accident, the length of the case typically increases while the attorneys investigate each party’s fault and analyze the evidence. Florida, however, does not fit within this typical definition, at least when the damages are under $10,000 and there are no permanent injuries.
Florida has adopted a “no-fault” system. This system allows each party’s insurance to cover the first $10,000 of damages, without declaring either party at fault. However, many car accidents result in more extensive damages. If the damages are above that limitation or result in whole or in part in a permanent injury, a lawsuit may still be brought. Permanent injuries are statutorily defined to include the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
The seriousness and expense of the accident does not only affect whether a lawsuit can be brought but it also can affect how long it will likely take.
How Serious the Accident Was
In general, though not always, the more serious and complicated the accident was, the longer the case will take. This correlation is simply because the time it takes to go through the relevant documents and medical treatment increases with the severity of the accident. When a case settles or goes to trial, the parties in the case prefer to have as much information about the injuries as possible. If the injuries are increasingly severe or require long-term health care, the case may take longer while the attorneys on both sides gather and sift through large amounts of information and make the case for their side.
Moreover, if health care costs are still accumulating and a party’s condition is continually worsening or changing, it is difficult to settle or try the matter. A party’s condition typically needs to stabilize so the damages can be accurately estimated. This stabilization can take longer with more serious bodily injury.
To Settle or to Try?
A case can also take longer based on the car accident victim’s wishes. If you are the victim in a car accident, you may wish to settle the case as quickly as possible in order to put it in the past. It can be painful to relive the details of the case over an extended period of time, so some victims choose to settle the case as expeditiously as possible. However, if you settle too early, you may be leaving money on the table that you will need later if your injuries worsen, so it is best to have an experienced car accident attorney guide you through the decision-making process.
What to Do to Expedite the Process:
Part of what makes court cases take longer is the time it can take to gather records. This process of gathering and analyzing the evidence and records involved in the case is called “discovery,” and it can be long, frustrating, and intrusive. However, there are some steps you can take to expedite your case:
- As soon as you are able, gather all witness information from the accident.
- You will also want to call the police department to ask for a copy of any police report.
- Immediately after an accident, you should seek medical attention. When you do so, ask for and save a copy of all medical records, bills, and documentation.
For all of these records, it is wise to scan a copy so you have them accessible electronically in case you lose them; however, we recommend that you keep the original records for the duration of the case.
Having the right attorney can also help expedite the process. An experienced local attorney will know how to navigate the judicial process, which forms to file, when deadlines are, and how to best guide you.
Contact a Clearwater Car Accident Attorney for a FREE Case Evaluation
A car accident can be a heavy emotional, physical, and financial burden. If you or your loved one suffered through a car accident, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney walk you through making the right decisions throughout the court process. Not only can the court system be tricky to navigate, but also insurance companies have teams of expert attorneys who work to discredit you and your case, settle quickly, and pay the least amount possible. The Dolman Law Group is here to help you obtain the results you need throughout this painful process. We are proud to have the premier personal injury and car accident lawyers in the Clearwater area, and we stand ready to fight for the results and the compensation you need and deserve. Call (727) 451-6900 today for a FREE consultation.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765