The process of a Florida auto accident claim is first that you have a pre-suit, meaning that you try to resolve the claim with the insurance adjuster.
If you can’t reach a deal, then you file a lawsuit where the sheriff takes and knocks on the door and says, “Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith has sued you.” And then, you get an attorney on the other side and you move forward to trial where you pick a jury.
You put on your evidence and then hope the jury comes back with more money than you turned down initially. It is a process that is frustrating in the sense that you have a little control.
We try to move it as quick as possible, but the first thing we do is we contact the other side’s insurance company. We put your insurance company on notice, we’re going to help with the bills, get the car fixed, get the doctor going, get you back to work.
When you reach a point called “Maximum Medical Improvement” when the doctor says, “I’m done with you. Go home. don’t come back again,” then the case is evaluated here at the office with the client, and we put a demand down.
Typically, the demand is higher than what we think it was. If the claim’s worth a dollar, you ask for two so that you can negotiate with the insurance company. They come back, 20 cents, you come back at $1.80 or $180,000 versus $20,000.
If you can resolve the claim, the claim’s done right then, you get your check in ten days. And then they move on.
The moneys you receive in a settlement are tax free.
If you don’t, then we file the lawsuit and you go through a process called “discovery” where they take your statement called “depositions”. We take their statements. Ultimately, you pick six jurors, like I did last week.
You put the evidence on and you hope that the jury comes back. Very exciting for lawyers, very stressful for clients, and it’s a case-by-case analysis.
But ultimately, lawyers don’t settle cases, clients do. If the client decides that’s in their best interest, then the case is resolved very quickly after they’re through treating.