Kibbey Wagner, PLLC | September 14, 2022 | Personal Injury
Have you been in an accident and sustained severe injuries? You’re not alone. Many individuals involved in an accident – whether a motor vehicle collision, pedestrian accident, or another personal injury incident – suffer physical and emotional injuries.
Since medical expenses and property damage can be costly, most individuals rely on insurance claims and personal injury cases to help them through the financial strain. However, dealing with insurance companies and/or filing a lawsuit isn’t always easy, and it’s essential to understand how claims work and how cases are filed.
In this article, you will learn the difference between a claim and a lawsuit, what constitutes economic and non-economic damages, what factors impact a settlement check, the time it takes to receive a settlement, and more.
Differences Between An Insurance Claim and a Lawsuit
Most personal injury matters begin as an insurance claim. For example, Florida drivers are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) to cover a portion of their medical bills and lost wages after a car accident. You must first file a claim with your own no-fault PIP insurance provider after a collision in Florida.
However, if your damages exceed your PIP policy limits (e.g., you suffered serious bodily injury) and the accident wasn’t your fault, you may have additional options for compensation. If the at-fault party has optional bodily injury liability coverage, it’ll pay for your damages if you can prove that the accident was caused by the insured.
If the insurance company denies your claim, you don’t receive a fair settlement, or the at-fault driver doesn’t have optional bodily injury liability coverage, you may be able to file a lawsuit. You must prove that the defendant’s negligence directly caused your injuries.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit will take much more time than settling a claim out of court. Thus, how your case progresses (i.e., various insurance claims, a claim and a lawsuit, etc.) will affect the timeline.
Calculating Damages in a Florida Personal Injury Case Can Take Time
Most personal injury settlements will include the economic and non-economic damages sustained due to the accident.
Economic damages include:
- Loss of income and diminished earning capacity
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Damages to your vehicle
- Out-of-pocket expenses
In contrast, non-economic damages may include:
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished quality of life
Calculating your damages can take time. For example, you need to reach maximum medical improvement to know the full extent of your medical expenses and how your injuries will impact your future. You can typically seek future damages – such as ongoing medical treatment – so you need to know your prognosis to assess the value of these damages.
Factors That Can Affect the Timeline of Receiving a Personal Injury Settlement Check
If you seek a settlement with an insurance company, it will typically take four to six weeks to receive a check. However, if you file a personal injury lawsuit, it can take months or years.
It typically takes up to six weeks to receive a settlement check from an insurance company because the adjuster has to review the evidence and then determine a settlement offer. Your attorney will probably engage in back-and-forth negotiations with the insurance company, which will take even longer.
As for a lawsuit, the timeline is longer. The attorneys have to conduct pretrial discovery, interview witnesses, review medical records, and prepare the case for court. Numerous court documents must be filed, and it can take time to get on the court docket.
Additionally, your attorney must evaluate:
- The level of fault for each party
- The extent of your damages
- The medical issues and relevant evidence
- The impact your injuries have on your quality of life
Personal injury lawsuits can be settled at any time before reaching trial. However, the cases that make it to trial can take a year or more to conclude.
How A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Speed Up the Settlement Process
A competent lawyer can help you negotiate with the insurance company for a higher settlement offer. They’ll put you on equal footing with the adjuster, who is a professional negotiator.
Additionally, they can help you file a lawsuit if the insurance company denies your claim or doesn’t offer a fair settlement. Personal injury attorneys have extensive legal knowledge and can be instrumental during the negotiation and discovery process.
They can help you collect evidence, such as:
- Footage from the accident
- Witness statements
- Physician records
- Medical bills
- Employment records
- Expert witness testimony
An attorney can also help you present your case in court to receive the best possible legal solution.