When filing a lawsuit for an insurance claim, there are many factors that can inhibit the speed in which your case can be resolved. In Part I of this post, we discussed what goes into determining how long a lawsuit may take. In this section, we’ll tackle the question that everyone has on their mind once they file, “What Happens Once I File?”
Once you’ve filed your lawsuit and the variables of your case have been determined, it’s time to get to work.
The nitty gritty of it is this: if a settlement is not presently being discussed or might not be in the cards at all, your litigation will take time. How much time it will take is uncertain, as it is at the mercy of deadlines provided by Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure and the Courts as well as scheduling.
At Kandell Law, we assure you that we work expeditiously to keep your claim moving. After all, we don’t get paid for our work until your lawsuit is resolved.
As it is, there are a lot of steps involved with litigating your insurance claim that will determine a timeframe for an outcome. Each lawsuit is unique and follows its own path to conclusion.
A Basic Timeline For Your Lawsuit:
- We Draft & File Your Lawsuit: Every lawsuit must be drafted and filed with the Court. Once the lawsuit is filed, a summons must be issued to serve on the Chief Financial Officer in Tallahassee. After which, it takes several days to serve the lawsuit on your insurance company. After your insurance company has been served, they have 20 days to hire an attorney and respond.
- Your Insurance Company (Somewhat) Takes Action: Invariably your insurance company hires an attorney only days before an answer is due and the attorney, not having a full copy of the file or an opportunity to review, requests an extension of time. This extension is usually 30 days. Sometimes, an insurance company will even file a Motion to Dismiss or for a More Definite Statement to serve this same purpose.
- Extensions Occur: Extensions are regularly granted by attorneys, both as a professional courtesy and as an effort to continue to expedite your claim. If an extension is not agreed upon, the defense attorney will file a Motion for Extension of time, which requires the scheduling of hearing in front of the judge (which could take roughly 30 days or more alone), and then the judge will almost certainly grant a 30 day extension anyways.
- Discovery: Once your insurance company has filed an answer to your lawsuit, if they are not ready or interested in discussing a settlement, the discovery phase will begin. Discovery is a procedure for each party to obtain evidence and information from each other or third parties regarding the issues in the lawsuit.
Often times, the first stage of this discovery phase will include written questions, called interrogatories, that you must answer and written requests for production of documents. The same type of discovery is prepared and sent by our firm to your insurance company. Each of these written requests must be prepared, filed and served on the opposing party and they also come with a 30 day deadline to respond. Just as discussed with the response required to the lawsuit, extensions are regularly requested, or Court intervention is required when a party chooses not to respond. Many times, several rounds of written discovery are required in order to obtain all information required.
- Depositions: At some point, parties may request to take the depositions of individuals involved with your insurance claim, or experts retained after the fact. A deposition is an out-of-court oral testimony taken under oath for later use in court or to assist with other discovery. The scheduling of each of these depositions takes time, even when the parties are cooperating with one another, and may take even longer or require the intervention of the court if the parties are not cooperative.
Once a deposition is taken (bear in mind it can take time to transcribe the oral testimony) and is delivered to all parties, it inevitably takes additional time to review, summarize and process the deposition in order to properly evaluate the case.
- Noticed For Trial: Once discovery has significantly progressed, a case may be noticed for trial. After a notice for trial is filed (and only after), the Court will issue an order setting deadlines for discovery, organizational items such as witness and exhibit lists, motions, mediation, and ultimately a date for a conference with the judge regarding the scheduling of a trial.
- Mediation: One of the most important parts of the receipt of a trial order is the requirement of mediation. Mediation is a conference where a third party mediator attempts to assist in negotiating a settlement amongst the parties. Many times, mediation results in a settlement or is productive towards reaching one. Mediation does, however, require the active participation of all parties and if a party is not interested in a settlement or the sides are too far apart, no settlement will be had.
- Setting The Date: After all conditions of the trial order are met (on the date scheduled in the order) the attorneys for both parties go before the judge to request either a continuance or a trial date. Continuances are often required when one party is not yet ready for a trial and it is up to the judge whether or not to grant it. Oftentimes, continuances are granted (even when a party has actively chosen to do nothing to advance its case), and the scheduling of a trial can be pushed back several months.
If both parties are ready for a trial, they are assigned a date by the court and given an order of priority. As it is, multiple cases are ready for trial at the same time and the court generally prioritizes older cases first. If your case is relatively new, you may be scheduled behind cases that are several years older than yours. If a case ahead of you goes to trial, your case will be bumped off the trial docket and you will have to reschedule, sometimes several months later.
There are a lot of factors that go into the length of time your litigation will take, and it is not always in your attorney’s ability to hurry things along. This can be incredibly frustrating to a homeowner who cannot afford to make repairs and is living in a damaged home throughout this entire process.
Although we cannot rush things along even though you may be living at a loss, you can be assured that we are willing to explore settlement at any possible point in order to get your claim reasonably resolved. And if a settlement avenue is not available, we will take all the legal steps possible to swiftly and efficiently advance your claim to the point that it is ready for a trial.
If you are ready to start the process of filing a lawsuit for your claim, or have any questions as you undergo this timeline, feel free to reach out and contact us today.