Only around 3% to 5% of all Florida personal injury claims end up going to court to be settled.
According to the US Department of Justice, the national average is about 3-4%.
In most cases, the parties in personal injury actions reach settlement agreements on their own.
Why Do Most Personal Injury Cases Never Go to Trial in Florida?
Most personal injury cases in Florida never go to trial because they are settled before it gets to that point. Many of these cases involve insurance companies that value their reputations. Although many insurers try to offer settlements that are lower than plaintiffs deserve and can adequately compensate them for their damages, these companies don’t want negative press. As a result, they are likely to pay a settlement before the case ever reaches trial.
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Insurance Companies Strive to Avoid Injury Trials
Insurance companies prefer to avoid any negative publicity. This is why they want to avoid a potentially lengthy personal injury trial. Insurers don’t want potential customers to learn that they were difficult when it came time to offer a reasonable settlement to an injured party.
Why Do Cases Settle?
Settling a personal injury case is often preferable to all parties because it allows things to end faster. It’s also more cost-effective, which satisfies everyone involved in the case.
Why Do Cases Go to Trial?
When personal injury cases go to trial, it’s because the defendant’s insurance company does not believe the plaintiff’s case is strong enough, leading to a lowball settlement offer. In some cases, the insurer might not even offer a settlement amount at all. Either scenario is unacceptable, so the plaintiff and their attorney decide that the best course of action is to take the case to a court trial. Another reason why a personal injury case might go to trial is because the defendant’s actions leading to the accident causing the injury were particularly egregious and the plaintiff believes they must be held accountable.
What Factors Determine Whether a Case Settles or Goes to Trial?
Certain factors can determine whether a personal injury case will settle or go to trial. They include the extent and nature of the plaintiff’s injuries and the cost of their medical expenses, whether the plaintiff requires rehabilitation or long-term treatment, the plaintiff’s income and earning capacity, the extent of their damages and the defendant’s actions at the time of the incident that cause the injury.
How Long Do Personal Injury Cases Take When They Go to Court?
Although many personal injury cases can take as little as one to three years to settle out of court, that’s not the situation when the case goes to trial. There is no set amount of time it can take for personal injury cases to last when they go to trial, but it could take far longer than that.
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What Is the Rate of Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Winning Their Cases?
If a Florida personal injury case goes to trial, only around 10% of the lawyers representing such cases end up winning. This is a surprising number since only approximately 3% to 5% of injury cases even end up going to trial.
What Are the Statistics of Personal Injury Claims in Florida?
In Florida, motor vehicle accidents make up the largest number of personal injury claims, accounting for around 250,000 injuries per year. The most common injuries victims sustain in these incidents are whiplash, cuts and lacerations, broken bones, neck and back injuries and soft tissue injuries.
Bicycle accidents comprise around 5,800 personal injury cases each year in Florida. Common injuries include head or brain injuries, knee injuries, neck and back injuries and spinal cord injuries.
Slip-and-fall accidents happen in many places in Florida. Most personal injury claims stemming from injuries resulting from these accidents are filed by seniors. Sadly, many people in the 65 and older age range suffer fatal injuries after a slip-and-fall. Common injuries include bone fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, strains and sprains and stretched or torn ligaments.
Medical malpractice claims are also common in Florida and result in around $200 in settlements each year. Approximately, 44,000 to 98,000 people die annually due to medical errors. The most common injuries occurring in medical malpractice cases include birth injuries, surgical errors, prescription drug errors, treatment errors (specifically, the wrong treatment) and misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
What Are the Different Types of Injuries Covered in a Florida Lawsuit?
In Florida, a person can file a personal injury claim based on certain types of injuries. They include car accident injuries, slip-and-fall injuries, medical malpractice injuries, workplace injuries, product liability injuries, assault and battery injuries and wrongful death.
Car Accident Personal Injury Claims
Car accidents are the most common situations leading to personal injury claims. Victims can suffer a variety of injuries ranging from mild to severe. Car accidents can cause cuts, scratches and lacerations or milder forms of whiplash in less serious cases such as fender benders. In more serious accidents, victims can be left with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury or internal injuries. These types of personal injuries are all medical emergencies that can leave a long-term or even permanent mark on the individual.
Slip-and-Fall Personal Injury Cases
Slip-and-fall personal injury claims occur when a person falls on residential or commercial property and suffers injuries. Premises owners have a duty to ensure that their property is kept in a reasonably safe condition to prevent accidents and injuries. If they fail to do that, an injured victim who has a legal right to be on the property can file an injury claim against them.
Medical Malpractice Injury Cases
Medical malpractice claims are a unique category of personal injury cases. Although all medical mistakes can leave victims suffering injuries, not all are considered malpractice. However, when a doctor or other medical professional is negligent or reckless and makes an error or fails to do something that might help a patient and that patient suffers harm, they can be held liable.
Workplace Accident Injury Claims
Each year, employees suffer work-related accidents and injuries. Although employers are legally obligated to ensure that their workplace environments are kept safe, workers can still suffer accidents and personal injury. Those that do not offer workers’ compensation or deny an employee’s claim for it may be held liable. Workplace injuries can range in type and severity. Depending on the circumstances, a worker may not be able to continue working at their job and may have to take a modified position while recovering. In the worst-case scenario, injuries stemming from a workplace accident can be permanent, causing the person to be unable to work any job at all.
Product Liability Injury Claims
When a person suffers injuries after using a product that has a defect in its design or manufacture or if a party fails to warn of the risks of using it, they can hold one of a few parties liable. Dangerous products can lead to serious personal injury and other damages. These personal injury cases are known as product liability claims.
Assault and Battery Injury Claims
Assault and battery involves a verbal threat of physical harm and actual contact with the victim. Additionally, assault can occur even if the perpetrator makes a motion as though they are going to strike the victim without actually doing so. When a person suffers injuries from assault and battery, they can file a personal injury claim against them to hold them accountable. A separate criminal case can also take place.
Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death is a different type of claim but is included in the class of personal injury. However, because the victim has died from their injuries, the surviving family is able to recover damages incurred as a result of that loss. The general rule is that if the victim would have had a legitimate reason to file a personal injury claim if they had lived, that individual’s personal representative can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family.
Understanding How Fault is Established in Florida Personal Injury Cases
There are certain elements that allow fault to be established in a Florida personal injury case. Those elements are duty of care, breach of that duty, causation and damages.
What Does Duty of Care Mean?
Duty of care refers to the duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff in a personal injury case. Regardless of the situation leading to the victim’s injuries, the defendant’s duty was to ensure that they behaved in a responsible manner to avoid an accident or potentially dangerous situation.
What Does Breach of Duty Mean?
Breach of duty means that the duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff was breached. In other words, the defendant failed to behave responsibly in a way to prevent the plaintiff’s injuries.
What Is Causation?
Causation refers to the defendant’s actions or lack thereof directly leading to the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, if the defendant was speeding 20 miles per hour above the speed limit and caused a car accident with the plaintiff that left them injured, the speeding would refer to the causation.
What Are Damages?
Damages refer to any harm resulting in a personal injury situation. This includes the plaintiff’s injury itself, property damage and emotional or mental harm they have suffered from the accident or incident. Depending on the specifics, damages can also include lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, loss of companionship, emotional distress or pain and suffering.
What to Know About Your Florida Personal Injury Case Heading to Trial
If the plaintiff and defendant are unable to reach a settlement in a personal injury claim, the plaintiff and their attorney can choose to take the case to trial. Going this route means that it will take a longer time to reach a settlement, but there may be no other choice. The parties will have to negotiate to find an amount that is satisfactory in compensating the plaintiff’s damages. There are additional factors to consider as well, including the laws and pros and cons of a trial.
You Have a Right to a Fair Settlement
Usually, when a personal injury case goes to trial, it’s because the parties were unable to reach a settlement. In order to get one that’s fair, the plaintiff’s attorney will negotiate with the defendant’s attorney or an insurance company. A settlement should be enough to compensate the plaintiff for all the damages they’ve suffered, including their medical expenses, continuing medical treatment, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, property damage and more.
What Is Florida’s Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Florida is four years from the date of the accident or incident or when the injury became obvious. This means that if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you must file your claim with the court in a timely manner or the court may not hear your case.
If your case involved medical malpractice, the statute of limitations is two years.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Going to Trial?
There are both pros and cons of going to trial for a personal injury case. The pros are that you can hold the person responsible for causing your injuries liable both financially and publicly. Going to trial also gives you a sense of closure and can help you emotionally and mentally move on from such a negative experience.
One of the biggest cons of going to trial is that it makes your case take significantly longer before reaching a conclusion. Depending on the circumstances, reaching a settlement can take years. Trials also go on public record, so your case will not remain private.
What Can You Expect with the Timeline of Your Personal Injury Trial?
Your personal injury case goes to trial if you are unable to get a satisfactory settlement. A jury is gathered to hear the case and opening statements are made by both sides before the plaintiff’s attorney presents evidence. The defendant’s attorney presents evidence afterward to counter that. Both sides also question their own witnesses and may cross-examine the other party.
After all of the evidence has been presented and the plaintiff, defendant and other witnesses have been questioned and cross-examined, both attorneys will make closing arguments. After this, the jury deliberates in a separate room so that it can make a decision on the case. In some cases, the jury finds in favor of one side or the other, but in some cases, it could end up deadlocked because all the jurors don’t come to a unanimous agreement. In this situation, the judge can declare a mistrial or have the jury deliberate again to reach a verdict.
What Are Some Tips to Increase the Chances of Winning at Trial?
You can improve your chances of winning at trial by having a personal injury lawyer on your side, representing you. Plaintiffs who retain attorneys are far more likely to have a favorable outcome in their case. Another way to increase the odds in your favor is to present as much evidence as possible to back up your claims. The more evidence you have, the better it is for your case. Having witnesses who can attest to your side of the story can also strengthen your chances of winning at trial.
What Is the Average Timeline of a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
On average, the total timeline of a personal injury lawsuit can last approximately eight to 18 months if it ends up going to trial. As part of the timeline, the injured plaintiff has a medical evaluation and a diagnosis, the insurance company is contacted, an investigation takes place and information is gathered, a demand letter is sent from the plaintiff’s attorney to the defense, the lawsuit is filed along with the complaint and answer phase, discovery occurs and the case goes to arbitration, mediation or a trial.
Medical Attention and Diagnosis
The plaintiff seeks medical attention for their injuries to get a diagnosis of their condition.
Contacting the Insurance Company
If an insurance company is involved in the accident or situation that caused the plaintiff’s injuries, the insurer must be contacted. Usually, it’s best if the plaintiff’s attorney handles that task.
Investigation and Information Gathering
In some cases, the accident is investigated to determine how it occurred. Information is gathered to strengthen the case.
After it’s determined how much in damages the plaintiff has suffered, their attorney sends a demand letter to the defendant’s lawyer. This letter requests a specific amount of money for a settlement.
Filing the Lawsuit, Issuing the Complaint and Receiving the Answer
When the personal injury lawsuit is filed, a complaint is included to detail the issue and what the plaintiff seeks. The defendant’s attorney will then compose an answer to send back in response.
What Is the Discovery Phase?
The discovery phase involves gathering evidence to present during a trial to support the plaintiff’s claim. This includes any documentation as well as the appearance and testimony of witnesses.
Arbitration or Mediation
Depending on the circumstances, some personal injury cases can use arbitration or mediation. Arbitration sees the parties meeting with an arbitrator, who acts like a judge, and presenting their evidence to support their respective side. The arbitrator reviews all the evidence and determines who wins the case. The decision may be binding or non-binding, but a binding result cannot be appealed.
Mediation occurs when the parties agree to meet and work together to reach an agreement. Although this is not often a way to resolve a personal injury case, some may be able to use mediation and avoid going to court.
Possibly Going to Trial
If arbitration or mediation fail to work, the personal injury case can go to trial where a jury decides the outcome. A trial is typically longer than either of the alternatives.
Types of Damages Recoverable in Florida Personal Injury Claims
The types of damages recoverable in a Florida personal injury claim are economic, noneconomic and possibly, punitive.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages are those that carry specific monetary amounts. As a result, it’s easy to calculate them when requesting a settlement. They include medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity and property damage.
What Are Noneconomic Damages?
Noneconomic damages are those that cannot be given a particular monetary cost. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress and mental anguish.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are financial amounts awarded to a plaintiff not to make them whole but to punish the defendant for outrageous or egregious conduct.
What Is the Typical Compensation in Personal Injury Cases?
On average, the typical compensation in personal injury cases is $31,000, but half of all plaintiffs recover $24,000 or less in compensation.
What Percentage of Personal Injury Cases Go to Trial in Florida?
Only around 3% to 5% of all personal injury cases go to trial in Florida.
What Percentage Do Lawyers Take for Personal Injury in Florida?
The average percentage a Florida personal injury attorney takes for a successful case is 33% of the plaintiff’s settlement award.
How Long Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Take in Florida?
In the shortest amount of time, Florida personal injury claims can take anywhere from four to six weeks. However, if they go to trial, it can take one year or even longer before a settlement is reached.
How Are Personal Injury Settlements Paid Out in Florida?
Personal injury settlements can be paid in structured settlements, payments that are spread out and made monthly or annually, or as lump-sum payments. Lump-sum is often preferable because they are tax-free. Structured settlement amounts are set as a specific number that cannot be changed.