Why Is My Lawsuit Taking So Long? We hear this complaint quite often from our clients who have suffered injuries as a result of the negligence of others. Unfortunately, from the date of the accident until a resolution is reached (either through a settlement or a trial), it is not uncommon for a couple of years to go by.
The attorneys at Fulgencio Law always explain the process to each client during the initial client meeting, and this includes explaining why a final resolution may take some significant time. The process is often slow and frustrating. One of the reasons why so much time can sometimes pass before a resolution is reached is because large corporations and insurance companies operate under the notion that time is on their side. As a result, we often see efforts on their part to delay, stall and slow the process down as much as possible. Their reasoning is twofold. First, the longer insurance companies like GEICO, State Farm, Farmer’s, Allstate and others onto their money, the more interest they are able to accrue on the money. Second, in their view, injured claimants will begin to lose faith in the process, will begin to doubt the validity and severity of their own claims, and will often be in such dire straits as a result of the accident that they will accept a lower settlement just to get money for the bills that continue to pile up, usually as a result of loss of wages and expensive medical treatment.
Before a lawsuit is filed, it is common to attempt a pre-litigation resolution with the insurance company. There are several steps that are important to be followed in this process and each one can take some time. For an automobile accident, the first step post-accident is to request a copy of the Police’s or Sheriff’s investigation or accident report. We also request a copy of the at fault party’s insurance policy. Insurance companies are required to provide this information under Florida Statutes Section 627.4137, but they have thirty (30) days to do so.
Once the claimant has completed medical treatment, our firm will evaluate the case based on settlement value and likelihood of success and recommend a settlement amount to the client. When injuries are severe, it may take doctors and medical providers years to reach a point where they can “finalize” the patient and provide what is known as MMI (maximum medical improvement). MMI means the point where the client will not get better as a result of treatment.
At this point, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. If a fair settlement offer is made and accepted by the client, the claim is closed and the client receives the financial compensation he or she deserves. If a fair settlement offer is not made, then the case will move forward and enter the litigation (lawsuit) stage.
After the Lawsuit is Filed
Once we file a lawsuit on behalf of our client, we will arrange for the lawsuit to be served on the Defendant (the person who caused or who is responsibility for the accident, or, in some situations an insurance company). The Defendant will then have twenty (20) days to file a response to the lawsuit. After that, the lawsuit will enter a period called “Discovery.” In the discovery period, the parties will attempt to discover information about the other side. Interrogatories, Requests for Admissions, Request to Produce, Subpoenas and Depositions are common discovery tools used by both plaintiff and defendant in the discovery process. The discovery period can take several months and to years to complete depending on the case.
Once discovery is complete, the case will be set for trial. Depending on the court’s workload, it can take six (6) or more months to get on the trial calendar. The trial will take place in front of a jury of six (6) people, who will then decide the fate of the case. If the jury decides for the plaintiff, there will be a monetary assessment of the value of the loss.
A lawsuit is usually the only legal option for a claimant to recover compensation for his or her injuries. Therefore, it is extremely vital a claimant exercise patience during this sometimes lengthy but important process. It is our experience that patience is often rewarded with higher settlements or higher jury verdicts than early-on settlement offers.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, please feel free to call our firm for a free consultation .