If you were recently hurt in a collision, you might be wondering how long it will take for your car accident case to settle in Tampa, FL. You no doubt are anxious to get some money to help pay off those medical expenses and other bills that have piled up while you’ve been out of work. However, your settlement may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.
So, how long can you expect your settlement to take? An experienced Tampa personal injury lawyer can use their knowledge to give you a better estimate once they know the specifics of your claim. Here are some additional details that can help you better gauge the potential time you’re looking at before receiving your settlement check.
Steps in the Tampa Car Accident Claim Process
To get a more realistic idea about the potential amount of time you’ll be waiting on a settlement, it’s helpful to realize the steps involved in the car accident claim process, which include:
Reporting the Accident
In Florida, it is required to report any motor vehicle accident immediately to law enforcement that results in injury, death, or $500 or more in property damage. Reporting the accident can help you receive emergency medical transport, as well as start the process of getting an objective accident report.
After the accident, request a copy of the accident report. You’ll need this for your insurance claim.
Seeking Medical Care
You should seek medical care immediately after the accident to ensure your injuries are promptly diagnosed and treated. This can also help establish a connection between the car crash and your injuries.
Filing an Insurance Claim
An insurance claim may help you receive compensation for the accident-related losses you’ve suffered in the accident. Florida law requires an insurer to acknowledge a claim within 14 days of receiving it.
Completing an Investigation
The insurance company may complete an investigation after the accident to determine liability, the extent of claimed losses, and whether the loss is a covered event under the policy. For most claims, the insurance company must decide to approve or deny a claim within 90 days.
Making a Demand
Your Tampa personal injury lawyer may prepare a demand package that explains how the accident occurred, why it’s covered under the insurance policy, and the amount of compensation you want to settle your case.
Negotiating a Settlement
The insurance company may respond to the demand by rejecting the claim, agreeing to the amount demanded, or counter-offering for less compensation. Your lawyer and the insurance company may go back and forth several times before reaching a final settlement.
What Do You Have To Do Before Settling Your Personal Injury Claim?
In addition to completing the steps outlined above, your claim may also be waiting for you to meet other milestones in your case, including:
Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the point where you are not expected to recover any more than you already have. It’s “as good as it gets.” That doesn’t mean that you won’t require any additional medical care, but it does mean that your condition is considered stable.
At this point, it is easier to determine the extent of the medical bills you’ve already incurred and that you are likely to incur in the future that relate to the accident.
Determining the Full Extent of Your Losses
Your Tampa personal injury attorney will likely advise holding off on accepting any settlement offers until it is possible to accurately estimate the full extent of your losses. This can help determine the amount of compensation you might be entitled to and that your lawyer should demand.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Future anticipated medical costs
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
- Toll charges, rideshares, and/or rental car expenses
- Pain and suffering
An experienced Tampa car accident attorney can help estimate the potential value of your claim.
This may include evidence such as:
- Vehicle parts
- Photos or videos of the accident scene
- Dash cam videos
- Witness statements
- Medical bills
- Employment records
- Tax returns
In some situations, a personal injury lawyer may hire an expert witness if additional information is needed. For example, an accident reconstruction expert may help explain how an accident occurred. An economic expert may help calculate the long-term earning potential and loss caused by an injury.
Factors That Can Affect the Timing of Your Settlement in Tampa, FL
There may be several additional factors that affect the timing of your settlement, such as:
- Questions of liability – If there are doubts about who was to blame for the accident or which insurance company is responsible for the damage, this could delay the settlement.
- Significant damages – Insurance companies are for-profit entities, so they are interested in minimizing their payouts to protect their profits. If significant damages are involved, they may take longer to process the claim and may be more likely to deny it altogether.
- The insurance company involved – Insurance companies may have internal policies that determine how quickly they must respond to claims. Some have more resources than others, so there may be a difference in terms of how long the case will take to resolve.
- Whether the case goes to court – If the insurance company denies the claim, you might have to file a lawsuit in court to seek compensation. Going to court is often a much longer process than settling an accident claim.
Having a lawyer who is familiar with Florida insurance regulations can also impact the potential time it takes to resolve your case. If you have any doubts hesitate to contact us at Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers at (813) 223-6200 today for a free consultation.