No one likes to think about being involved in an accident. Car accidents are stressful at best and at their worst, they can be completely devastating. Regardless, it's important to understand the legal stages that follow after an accident. It pays to be well prepared should an accident happen to you.
Stage 1: Initial Investigation
In the first stage, an attorney will open an investigation to determine if your accident case is viable. They’ll unearth the facts and evidence to support your damage or injury claim.
At this stage, your attorney will most likely ask three basic questions:
Which party is at fault? - Even if one party was issued a ticket, accident cases are judged by the amount each party contributed to the cause in Florida.
What injuries developed from the accident? - To answer this question, you may be asked to provide medical records associated with any injuries present during and after the accident.
Can insurance cover compensation? - Your attorney will need to know if one or both parties has insurance as a source of compensation.
Stage 2: Demand Letter and Documentation
The demand letter acts as the catalyst for negotiations. It is a letter sent along with supporting documentation to the insurance company in order to notify and fill them in on the details of the accident and case.
A typical demand letter with its supplemental information can be well over a hundred pages long, and covers several details as outlined below:
- All the facts surrounding the claim
- A summary noting why the other party should be held responsible for damages or injuries
- Detailed summaries of all injuries incurred, medical treatment received, damages, costs, and missed income due to the accident
- The demanded specific dollar amount the victim will accept in order to resolve the case.
Stage 3: Negotiation Period
Once the insurance company receives the letter, they may accept the demand right away to instantly settle the case. When the insurance company doesn't agree to the terms, however, the case fully enters the negotiation period.
Next, the insurance company will make a counteroffer in hopes of coming to a compromise with the party seeking compensation. After meeting with an attorney, the victim may decide to take the counteroffer or proceed with a formal lawsuit to obtain fair compensation.
Stage 4: Lawsuit Filing
In cases where both parties fail to settle on a dollar amount, the case will enter the lawsuit stage and will be handled within the court system. This rarely happens, as many parties are quick to settle collision cases to avoid the expenses of litigation.
Stage 5: Mandated Mediation
To avoid a full trial, an experienced and neutral mediator will meet with both parties to encourage a fair settlement prior to any court appearances. In many cases, this is enough to get one party or another to compromise on a dollar amount and settle the case. If not, however, the case will proceed towards a trial.
Stage 6: The Trial
During the trial, the case will be presented in front of a judge and or jury in order for the case to be resolved. All evidence, information, and testimony will be presented and either the judge or jury will make a decision on the issues of the case.
Stage 7: Appeal Process (Optional)
The appeal process is the optional stage where the dissatisfied party attempts to appeal the ruling. However, an appeal may not be approved unless legal errors were made during the trial. This is also a major reason to work with the most adept lawyers in Florida during a collision lawsuit.
If you find yourself seeking compensation for damages or injuries after an accident, contact our experienced and compassionate attorneys at Lusk, Drasites, & Tolisano. We will be here to guide you every step of the way from investigation to appeal, ensuring you earn the right compensation.