Laws and Lawsuit Process

Florida Car Accident Settlement Process

After a car accident, there is so much to handle. You may be suffering from serious injuries, lack of transportation, and time off work. You’ve notified the insurance carriers of those involved, but what’s next?

Typically, after notice of an accident, the insurer will assign personnel called “claims adjusters” to investigate your claim. They will use documents and statements collected by the parties involved and determine how much the claim is worth.

Because Florida law surrounding liability for car accidents is complicated, a car accident injury attorney should be consulted whenever you’ve been hurt in a crash. Insurance companies, even your own, are looking to settle claims for the least amount possible. Representation by David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. will work to ensure your rights are protected.

When the Offer Isn’t Fair

At the conclusion of the investigation, you will be presented an amount as compensation for your personal injuries and property damage in return for a full release of your claim. In other words, you won’t file a lawsuit in exchange for the money offered. Sounds uncomplicated, right?

Unfortunately, the amount offered most likely won’t be fair and reasonable and you won’t want to accept. At this point you have a few choices: 1) accept the lowball offer because you may be tired of fighting with the insurance company or you feel financial pressure to do so; 2) refuse the offer and enter settlement negotiations.

The first option—accepting a low offer—might be tempting if you are handling your claim on your own. Who has the time and energy to go head-to-head with a powerful insurance company? But you don’t have to give up your rightful claim. Consult an auto accident attorney who can help evaluate your damages to determine the compensation you’re owed.

If you’re already working with a personal injury attorney, the second choice—refuse the offer and negotiate—is an easy pick. You can continue to focus on your recovery while an experienced advocate fights for you. Having an attorney who knows the law, understands the value of your claim, and has weighed the strength of your case, increases your negotiating power.

Because the first settlement offer inevitably is low, you’ll want to have the strongest case possible for negotiation purposes. Working with a Florida personal injury attorney from the beginning will provide the best result. Your attorney will:

  • Communicate with the insurance company
  • Gather documents needed for evidence of fault and damages
  • Consult with you and help draft your statement and providing statements

Having your attorney handle these matters mitigates the risk that you could inadvertently harm your chances of receiving the amount of compensation you are owed.

What Factors are Considered in Settlement Negotiations

Each accident is unique in facts and circumstances, so no formula exists to determine car accident settlement amounts. But some of the factors that will be considered include:

  • How badly you were hurt
  • Medical costs and expenses (including those incurred to travel for treatment)
  • Loss of past and future wages
  • Any fault on your part. Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence” doctrine where damages are barred or reduced according to your degree of fault (Sec. 768.81(2))
  • The insurance coverages of both parties
  • The strength of evidence and documentation
  • How the case is argued

A word about comparative negligence. By law, if you are found to have some liability (fault) for the accident, your recovery can be reduced by the percentage of fault that is proven to be yours. For example, if the evidence shows you were 20% at fault, the compensation you seek will be reduced by that amount. The pure comparative negligence factor is another good reason you need professional guidance by David I. Fuchs, who has handled car accident cases for more than 30 years.

What if You Need to File Suit?

Most of the time insurance claims are settled without having to file a lawsuit to protect your rights to the compensation you deserve. But sometimes the parties just can’t agree on how much that is, and even which parties owe what. If that happens, your personal injury attorney will file a suit so the matter can be resolved.

Understanding when filing suit is an option can be tricky because Florida is a no-fault state where you can only pursue personal injury claims if the accident was serious. Personal injury and property damage cases resulting from car crashes must be filed within the four-year statute of limitations. Those trying to handle the settlement of their own claims might not be aware of this deadline.

When you work with David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A., you can focus on your healing and returning to your life after a car accident. From notice of the accident, evidence gathering, and settlement negotiation to filing suit if necessary, we will pursue the compensation you are due.