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Florida is a no-fault insurance state, that means that after an accident the injured drivers turn first to their car insurance coverage. Drivers can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver directly only in specific conditions. Following a car crash, the victim reports it to the insurance carrier and files a claim. In the pre-litigation phase, the victim’s attorney can issue a demand letter stating damages and asking for a certain amount of settlement. If the defendant does not wish to settle, a lawsuit follows.
In Florida, drivers can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver directly:
Generally speaking, there are two types of claims: pre-litigation claims and lawsuits. Pre-litigation claims are the situations where we try to reach an out-of-court settlement. In these cases, we take the clients through a process that involves obtaining all their medical records, photographs and videotapes regarding the scene of the accident, a defective product, and the suffered injuries. We also require medical bills and information on lost wages as a result of their accident, and we put all the information together in what is called a settlement demand package.
The next step is to work with the client to determine how much she wants to request regarding money. After gathering all the information, we send it to the insurance company which usually needs 30 days to respond as part of the claim process. Sometimes they may want to interview the client, and if this is the case, we will make sure to prepare for the interview.
A lawsuit would be the second step in litigation if the case were not settled. The other side (defendant or insurance company) is hiring a lawyer to represent them. In these situations, information needs to be gathered by both parties the same way we have mentioned above. After this stage has been completed, the client, our law firm, the insurance company and the defendant's representative or the defendant(s) come together in a meeting with an independent person called mediator. The purpose of this session is to try to settle the case in a fair and reasonable way for both parties.