Officials: Port St. Lucie Crash Investigations Take Time
According to one analysis, law enforcement investigators look at cases for an average of seventy-seven days before filing charges. How does the criminal law process compare with the civil law process?
This study took place in the wake of a five-fatality fireball crash in November 2018. Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl assigned a full-time investigator to the case. The investigator reviewed the physical evidence, talked to witnesses, researched the law, and then made a recommendation. Investigators also perform accident reconstruction and analyze blood samples.
If the 77-day timeframe held, authorities would have made an arrest around February 8. But they only investigated for about thirty days before making an arrest. The defendant was allegedly travelling almost 100mph in a 30mph zone when he initiated the crash, according to investigators.
Pre-Filing Settlements in Port St. Lucie
Criminal investigations take time, and so do civil settlements. Aside from the victims themselves, probably no one better understands the urgency to settle a personal injury case than the attorney handling your claim. So, settlement negotiations begin almost on day one. As a result, many, but not all, claims settle before court papers are filed.
Legally, Florida insurance companies have a duty to settle car crash claims within a few weeks, if liability is relatively clear. But in almost all cases, there is at least some question as to liability.
Liability is not the only issue. In a serious injury case, medical treatment may require several months, at least. It’s usually a very bad idea to settle a claim before medical treatment is at least substantially complete. Most settlements include waivers. The victim gives up any future rights to file any future claims. So, if the settlement is too low, the victim has no recourse.
Post-Filing Settlement Procedure in Florida
Do not be dismayed if your attorney must file a legal claim to spur settlement. This move is very common.
Initially, the victim/plaintiff files a legal claim in court. This claim usually alleges that the other party was negligent and the victim sustained injury because of that negligence. The defendant is usually an insurance company instead of an individual. Insurance companies have a fiduciary duty to defend their insured parties in court.
Initially, many insurance companies try to get judges to throw these claims out of court. These motions essentially say that there is no way the victim/plaintiff could possibly win under any circumstances. As long as there is any evidence in the victim/plaintiff’s favor, and the statute of limitations has not expired or there is another legal bar, the judge usually allows the case to move forward.
Discovery is the next phase. During this court-supervised process, the parties exchange information about their claims and defenses. Discovery often involves both written exchanges, such as document requests and interrogatories, and oral exchanges, such as witness depositions and medical examinations. The judge basically referees this process and resolves any disputes or rules violations.
Most judges also refer contested injury claims to mediation. During this process, a third-party mediator works to facilitate settlement between the two sides. If both parties have an open mind, mediation is usually successful about two-thirds of the time.
If the case goes to trial, that trial could be before a judge or a jury. But almost all civil cases, over 90 percent by most counts, settle out of court.
Reach Out to Aggressive Lawyers
Most injury claims settle out of court, but the settlement process usually takes time. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no money or insurance.