Why Is My Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?
Your car accident settlement may reach a successful resolution in a matter of weeks or a few months if the injuries are minor and liability is clear. On the other hand, multiple factors can draw out your case for several months or even years. These factors include the severity of your injuries, a lack of clarity on liability, or trial delays.
If you are unhappy with the progress of your car accident case and don’t understand why it is taking so long, we offer free case evaluations to help you find answers. You can explore your options with Meldon Law today at (352) 373-8000.
Clerical Errors Can Hold Up Car Accident Settlements
There’s a lot of legalese that goes into filing a claim, which can trip up claimants. Accidentally entering the wrong policy number or confusing dates can delay your claim for weeks––especially if the insurer doesn’t catch or notify you of the error.
Here’s some good news: assuming that everything else is in order, once your lawyer catches the mistake, they can ensure matters progress smoothly. Still, if the insurer throws up roadblocks, they can advocate for what you deserve.
How Injuries Affect the Timing of Car Accident Cases
Severe injuries can hold up settlements for a few reasons:
- A serious injury may leave you unable to pursue (or explore) your legal options. For instance, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury, you could have problems processing information and even remaining conscious. This could delay how long it takes to recover damages, as you shouldn’t initiate legal proceedings until you have all your mental faculties present.
- Your attorney may advise you to wait until your physicians determine you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before agreeing to a settlement. When you reach MMI, that means your condition will not change with further treatment. This ensures that you pursue compensation that accounts for the full scope of your medical bills—not just your medical bills right now.
- Florida’s serious injury threshold law (Florida Statute § 627.737) allows you to sue a liable party for your injuries if those injuries meet a certain standard. If negotiations cannot reach an agreement, you may need to file a lawsuit in pursuit of appropriate compensation, which will delay your car accident settlement or verdict.
Determining Liability May Slow Settlement Offers
Florida has a no-fault auto insurance system, requiring drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) coverage. No matter who is at fault for the accident, you first turn to your PIP and PDL insurance to cover your losses. If it is proven that another driver or factor, such as poorly-maintained roads, caused the accident, you could pursue compensation from their insurance company.
No matter how many potentially liable parties there are, those involved will want to conduct their investigation to identify all of those at fault. Gathering evidence to prove liability takes time and may slow the settlement process, particularly if there are multiple at-fault parties.
Negotiations Can Impede a Settlement
Before negotiations for your losses can begin, you and your attorney must account for each damage, both economic and non-economic. These include:
Economic losses are objective, out-of-pocket costs that may include:
- Property damage to your vehicle and personal belongings
- Medical expenses, ranging from treatment to hospital stays
- Wages lost during your recovery period
- Future earnings lost due to severe injuries, affecting your ability to generate income
Non-Monetary (But Still Compensable) Losses
Non-economic losses are subjective costs that generally have no invoices attached. They may include:
- Physical pain and suffering during the accident and recovery
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Change in or loss of relationships
- The emotional toll of disfigurement or disability
- Anxiety and depression
Some insurance companies don’t have claimants’ best interests at heart. For instance, the liable insurer in your case may not account for the full cost of your expenses––hoping that you’ll accept a low offer.
In other situations, the insurer says that it’ll offer a settlement, and that you can file another claim and ask for more money later. That’s not how settlements work. Once you accept compensation, you sign a waiver of liability that ends your case. Afterward, the insurer may not return your calls, and you could have few options for recouping the extra money you need.
An injury lawyer from our firm can help in either of these situations. If negotiations end or otherwise come to a standstill, we can step in and take care of it.
An Injury Lawsuit Can Take Time to Complete
If negotiations fail or the insurer denies liability, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Yet, most civil cases aren’t like the daytime court shows you see on TV; they don’t resolve within 15 minutes. It can take weeks (even months) to build a compelling case. While this may seem like a long time to wait for compensation, a lawsuit could offer much-needed financial recovery.
What’s great about hiring a lawyer from Meldon Law is that you don’t have to worry about anything litigation entails. Your attorney can:
- File your case
- Present supporting evidence at trial
- Partake in jury selection
- Cross-examine witnesses
- Take depositions
- Prove fault, liability, and negligence
- Communicate with the other party’s lawyers
Even if you hope to resolve your case through settlement talks, it’s vital to keep the state’s statute of limitations in mind. Florida Statutes § 95.11 notes that you have just two years to file your lawsuit. This may seem like a long time, but it’s really not. The sooner you connect with a lawyer, the sooner you can promote your case’s outcome.
Meldon Law Offers Free Car Accident Case Consultations
Our law firm has led personal injury cases in Florida for more than 50 years. We consider our clients to be family, and we don’t back down from complicated legal matters.
You deserve to work with an attorney who serves you with compassion and integrity. You also deserve to get your car accident settlement in a reasonably timely manner. Call us at (352) 373-8000 for your free case evaluation and discover what it means to be part of the Meldon Law family.