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Video: How Long Will It Take to Settle my West Palm Beach Auto Accident Case?

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Personal Injury Video Law Tip

“The time to settle an accident case can vary and range from a few months to several years. There are several factors for this: one is the severity of your injuries, another factor is how much insurance is available. For example, you have a catastrophic injury, where we say you are paralyzed, and the person who caused the injury only has $10,000 in insurance available. Obviously, they are going to attend to this very quickly. Wherein if you had several prior accidents and injured the same body part and there’s a lot of insurance coverage available, the insurance company would fight that harder and that would delay the process in resolving the claim and getting the money that you deserve.” – Bill Abel, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer at McLaughlin & Stern LLP in West Palm Beach

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He Said Bill Abel, Personal Injury Lawyer

Topic How Long Will It Take to Settle my West Palm Beach Auto Accident Case?

Most auto accident cases in West Palm Beach eventually settle; however, the time to settle an accident case can vary significantly. Some of the factors that are involved when a case settles include:

1) the severity of the injuries;
2) whether there is a dispute as to who is at fault;
3) the amount of insurance that is available;
4) negotiating medical bills, and
5) legalities.

The time it takes to settle an accident case can range from days to years. The severity of the injuries can affect the timing of a settlement because an individual may not be at maximum medical improvement until several months after the accident. That means that the person is as well as she is going to get from her injuries. Once a person reaches maximum medical improvement, then there is more certainty about the type of future medical care that will need to be provided.

Another issue that affects the timeliness of settling an accident case includes the extent of the injuries. Obviously, more traumatic injuries are more easily verifiable than “soft tissue” or more subjective injuries. An insurance company is more likely to challenge claims when subjective injuries are claimed.

Whenever there is a dispute as to who is responsible for the injuries, more investigations need to take place. This delays the potential for settling an accident case. Insurance companies are not responsible for paying all claims, but only those claims where their insureds are responsible for the accident. For most car accidents, it is usually clear who is at fault. However, when there are other types of personal injury claims such as a trip and fall, there may be a dispute as to the accident.

In regards to the amount of insurance affecting the time it takes to settle a accident case, the more the amount of insurance, the more the insurance can fight settling the case. The reason for this is because an insurance company is required to negotiate in good faith. If they fight a claim where there is a risk that a jury verdict is more than the available policy limits, then the insurance company could be considered to have negotiated in bad faith. In that instance, the insurance company could be responsible for paying the amount in excess of the policy limits. This area of law is complex, but for our purposes the important point is that if an insurance has high policy limits, then they know that most likely a jury verdict will be within those policy limits and the issue of bad faith will never come up. This enables them to play hard-ball in the settlement negotiations.

Once a case is settled, it can take time to finalize the amount of the medical bills and or work without money owed to Medicare or Medicaid. Sometimes, the real work takes place after the parties agree to a settlement number. This would be caused by having to negotiate with each medical provider as to their individual bill.

Finally, sometimes there are technical reasons that delay a case from settling. These are usually unique to each case but sometimes the complexity of the case requires additional work to be done, and that slows the process. – Bill Abel

She Said Dena Sisk Foman, Personal Injury Lawyer

Topic How Long Will It Take to Settle my West Palm Beach Auto Accident Case?

There are several things that determine how long it will take for your auto accident case in West Palm Beach to settle for your case to be tried in front of a jury. Typically, we attempt to settle a case before we even go into suit and sometimes this happens. So long as the settlement is reasonable, this saves you money as your attorneys fees are lower and the costs are lower. The cases that settle before suit are usually the accidents where the insurance coverage is low, meaning the policy limit is low. Even if there are viable defenses to an action, the insurance company does not want to answer to their insured on why they did not protect them when they had the opportunity to do so. Therefore, the smaller the insurance policy the more likely the insurance company will tender quickly. On the other hand when there is a large policy in play, the insurance company feels much more comfortable in defending.

If the case goes into litigation, a lot goes into the particular judge’s procedures. For instance in one county in Florida, the judge will not allow hearings to be scheduled when the defendant files a motion to dismiss. The court reviews the motion and alerts the parties if a hearing is necessary. Sometimes this can take several months. The case can not be moved forward on the docket or closer to trial with a pending motion to dismiss. This can cause cases to be backed up for years before they reach trial. Most cases can be moved towards trial within a year but all will depend on how many cases are on the judge’s docket. Sometimes, there are cases that will take and entire trial period because the case takes 3-4 weeks to try. When this happens, the cases behind that 3-4 week trial get moved to the next trial period until they reach the number 1 slot. Sometimes a party may get luck and get a trial date and be reached within a year, but most cases take 2-3 years to get to trial. Of course, a case can be settled anytime before trial. In fact, the court requires the parties to mediate before trial. This means that both parties select and independent mediator that tries to facilitate settlement.

The most important thing is to be patient. Everything that is done in litigation has response time of a certain amount of days. Our profession is cordial and absent unforseen or unusual circumstances these periods of time for response can get extended upon agreement of the parties. It is very important that the parties do their part to move the case. If you are asked to answer paper discovery or a list of questions from the other attorney, make sure you get those back to your attorney timely. Everyone that makes a claim and goes into litigation sits for deposition. Make sure that you timely provide dates and meet with you attorney about your testimony. The things help to speed up the process. – Dena Sisk Foman

Personal injury law video number 100043:
How Long Will It Take to Settle my West Palm
Beach Auto Accident Case?

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