If you’ve been in a car accident, you’re likely dealing with stress and uncertainty. One of the biggest questions on your mind may be how car accident settlements work. A car accident settlement is a way to get the money you need after an accident that was not your fault.
Getting what you deserve in a car accident settlement is not easy without an experienced car accident lawyer on your side. That’s because insurance companies won’t take you seriously without one. Your attorney will fight aggressively when negotiating with the insurance company and obtaining a fair settlement.
Hiring a car accident attorney doesn’t mean you must sue someone or go to trial. In fact, most car accident cases are resolved through settlement negotiations, rather than going to court. This is because car accident claims can often be favorably resolved without ever filing a lawsuit.
What is a Car Accident Settlement?
A car accident settlement is an agreement between the parties involved in a car accident in which the at-fault driver or their insurance company agrees to pay the injured party a certain amount of money. This settlement is meant to compensate the injured party for any damages they suffered due to the accident, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Florida is a no-fault state. All drivers must first turn to their own insurance policy to cover their medical bills and expenses after an accident. Even if you’re not to blame for the accident, you must first turn to your Personal Injury Protection policy to pay your medical bills and damages.
The majority of drivers carry $10,000 in PIP coverage. If your accident was catastrophic, you could easily exhaust this policy. When this happens, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you file a claim or lawsuit seeking compensation.
Once the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage limit has been exhausted, car accident victims in Florida can opt out of the no-fault insurance system. This is the stage where the car accident settlement process begins, and it’s crucial to understand how it works.
How do Car Accident Settlements Work?
If you have been in a car accident and filed a claim, you may wonder how the car accident settlement process works in Florida.
In general, the settlement process involves four stages: the initial offer, negotiation, mediation and arbitration, and accepting or rejecting the settlement offer.
The Initial Offer
The insurance adjuster makes the initial settlement offer after they have investigated the accident and determined who was at fault. This offer is typically lower than you may be entitled to, so reviewing it carefully and considering negotiating for a higher amount is essential.
Negotiation is the next stage in the settlement process. This is where you, your lawyer, and the insurance adjuster will work to agree on the settlement amount. It is crucial to be prepared with evidence to support your claims, such as medical bills, repair estimates, and witness statements.
During the negotiation process, you may go back and forth with the adjuster several times before reaching a settlement amount that both parties agree on.
Accepting or Rejecting the Settlement Offer
Once the insurance company sends you an offer, you must decide whether to accept or reject it. If you accept the offer, you will receive the agreed-upon amount, and the case will be closed.
If the insurance car accident settlement is too low, you may need to reject the offer. When you reject the offer, your attorney may be able to extend negotiations, or you might need to file a lawsuit and go to court to try and recover damages.
It is important to consider the settlement offer carefully and talk to an experienced car accident attorney before deciding what to do. If you accept the settlement offer, you cannot pursue further legal action – even if your injuries worsen or you accrue additional medical expenses.
The Importance of Seeking Legal Help
Navigating the car accident settlement process can be complex and overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with injuries and other damages from the accident. Seeking legal help from an experienced car accident attorney can help ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
An attorney can help you with every step of the settlement process, from filing your injury claim to negotiating with the insurance company to representing you at trial if necessary. They can also help you understand your insurance coverage and policy limits and ensure you meet all the legal requirements and deadlines, such as the statute of limitations.
In addition, many car accident attorneys, such as the ones at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA., work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. This can help alleviate the financial burdens of pursuing a car accident settlement.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident
Even though Florida is a no-fault state, when you pursue a claim, you must establish fault. After all, the other driver’s insurance company won’t pay your damages if they’re not liable.
When a car accident occurs, determining who is at fault is a crucial step in the settlement process. Fault refers to the party responsible for causing the accident. In most cases, one driver is found to be at fault for the accident, although there are situations where both drivers share the blame. The driver found to be at fault is responsible for paying damages to the other driver.
Determining fault in a car accident isn’t always easy. To determine fault, your car crash attorney will consider various factors, such as:
- Traffic Laws: Did one driver violate any traffic laws, such as running a red light or speeding?
- Negligence: Did one driver act negligently, such as texting while driving or failing to yield?
- Witness Statements: Did any witnesses observe the accident and provide statements?
- Police Reports: Did the police respond to the accident and provide a report?
Unfortunately, fault is not always clear-cut. In some cases, both drivers may share the blame for the accident. In these situations, the insurance companies may try to assign a percentage of fault to each driver. Your lawyer must fight back to ensure you’re not assigned too much blame.
How Much Are Florida Car Accident Settlements?
If you’re involved in a car accident, you can seek compensation for all your damages. This includes:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Future medical bills that you may incur due to ongoing therapy, disability, or impairment
- Loss of future earnings
- Emotional distress
Your case could be worth thousands or even millions. However, since each case is unique, how much your case is worth will be specific to you and your damages. Your attorney will need to investigate your accident, work with medical teams, and obtain evidence to obtain maximum compensation after an accident.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Settlements?
The statute of limitations for car accident settlement in Florida is just two years from the accident date. This means you only have two years to file a lawsuit or settle your claim before the deadline. It is important to remember this deadline, as missing it could result in losing your right to compensation.
What if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you may still be able to recover damages through your own insurance company. Uninsured motorist coverage is required in some states and optional in others. This coverage can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
What if I am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
If you are partially at fault for an accident in Florida, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries and damages, but the amount of compensation you receive may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Florida follows a modified comparative negligence system of law, which means that even if you were partly to blame for the accident, you might still recover some compensation for your losses. However, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Insurance companies know this. They will look for any way to reduce their liability by pinning some blame back on you. The more they can put on you, the less they’ll have to pay.
Call Our Car Accident Lawyers Today
If you or someone you love suffered an injury in a car accident in Florida, you need someone you can trust to look out for you and your future. Our Florida car accident lawyers know that insurance companies won’t play fair. That’s why we work tirelessly to level the playing field and help our clients obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.
To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your potential car accident lawsuit, contact Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA at (305) 694-2676. You may also use our online submission form to contact the firm.