Settling a Property Damage Lawsuit

Suffering property damage can be extremely stressful. Your home or business faces destruction while you deal with insurance claims, repairs, and lost income. If an insurance company denies your claim or doesn’t fully cover the damage, you may need to file a lawsuit. But legal action also takes time.

How long could a property damage lawsuit take to settle in Florida? What factors determine the timeline? This guide examines the key phases of a property damage case so you can set realistic expectations.

Our team of skilled attorneys at Cernitz Law has guided clients through property damage insurance claims. For more information, call our team at 305-370-3255.  

Initiating a Lawsuit Takes Weeks to Months

The first step is contacting a property damage lawyer in Florida. An attorney sends a demand letter to the insurance company, pushing for a fair settlement.

If that fails, the lawyer may file a civil complaint in county court on your behalf. Drafting a detailed, credible complaint takes two to four weeks.

Overall, it takes one to six months from initially contacting a law firm to officially starting a property damage lawsuit.

The Discovery Phase Spans Six Months to Over a Year

The discovery process enables each party to request relevant information for building their legal case. This evidence collection and information exchange phase usually lasts six months to a year. But complex commercial lawsuits could have an even longer discovery period.

Most Cases Settle Before Trial

According to the Florida Justice Reform Institute, over 95% of civil suits settle out of court.

After reviewing the discovered evidence, both sides calculate their chances of winning at trial. Settlement negotiations often intensify during this period.

It takes 12-18 months on average to settle a property damage case out of court after filing the complaint. Straightforward claims with clear liability may resolve faster.

Less Than 5% of Cases End in a Trial Verdict

If no settlement agreement is reached, the court schedules a civil trial. Both parties present arguments and evidence before a judge or jury.

  • Bench trials decide outcomes through a judge alone

  • Jury trials rely on a six-person jury for the verdict

From initial filing to a trial verdict takes approximately 16-24 months. Scheduling conflicts and backlogged court calendars commonly lead to delays.

What Factors Determine How Long a Property Damage Lawsuit Takes?

  • Case complexity: Suits related to large-scale disasters like hurricanes may have more parties, evidence, and legal issues involved.

  • Cooperation of the defendant(s): How readily the insurance provider shares information can shorten or extend timelines.

  • Workloads in the local court system: A higher volume of cases leads to longer wait times for trial dates.

  • Appeals process: An appeal after a trial loss adds more months or years to obtain a final resolution.

While all property damage claims in Florida aim to recover lost value from irresponsible parties, no two lawsuits follow the exact same timeline.

An experienced property damage attorney in Florida can examine your situation and provide case estimates tailored to your needs.

How Can I Speed Up My Property Damage Case?

  • Organize relevant documentation like proof of ownership, repair estimates from contractors, and communications with insurance agents. This supports swift filing of the complaint.

  • Undergo independent claim evaluations to counter any lowball insurance assessments.

  • Participate actively in discovery by promptly answering lawyer questions to avoid delays.

  • Remain open to reasonable settlement offers instead of holding out for a massive jury award that may never materialize.

What Financial Help Options Exist During My Case?

Since lawsuits take months or years to resolve, getting by financially is difficult. Beyond savings and credit cards, you could explore:

  • Advances from lawsuit funding companies: These provide money in return for a portion of your eventual settlement.

  • Small business loans: For commercial property damage that disrupts your company’s operations.

  • Personal loans from banks or credit unions: Make sure you can manage installment payments.

  • Borrowing from friends/family: While convenient, strained relationships could result if you can’t repay on time.

  • Crowdfunding donations: Creating an engaging campaign linking to your situation may earn community support.

FAQs About Property Damage Lawsuits

1. How much time do I have to legally pursue property damage compensation in Florida?

Florida statute 95.11 sets a five-year deadline from the damage incident date to file a property damage lawsuit against a negligent party.

2. What if new damage appears later?

The statute of limitations resets whenever previously undiscovered property damage manifests. So you have five years from noticing cracked walls, mold growth, or other issues resulting from the initial incident.

3. Can I represent myself in small claims court without a lawyer?

While allowed, having professional legal experience greatly boosts success odds for obtaining fair compensation, even in small claims suits. An experienced property damage lawyer knows how to compile persuasive evidence, negotiate optimally, and avoid rookie mistakes.

4. How much does a property damage attorney cost?

Most property damage lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, collecting around 30% of your eventual lawsuit award or settlement amount without any upfront payments. But complex commercial lawsuits may involve alternative billing arrangements.

5. What are typical settlements and judgments for property damage lawsuits?

Average settlements range from $20,000 – $60,000 while jury verdicts often exceed $100,000. Suits against large insurance providers or manufacturers could result in recoveries over $1 million, especially with punitive damages. But each case depends on specific evidence and injuries.

Finding an Experience Property Damage Lawyer in Florida 

Suffering extensive property losses leaves you stressed, financially pinched, and grasping for accountability. While filing a lawsuit takes significant time, the potential payout at the end offers some light at the end of the tunnel.

Partnering with a reputable property damage lawyer in Florida like Cernitz Law ensures you put forth the strongest legal arguments possible to resolve your situation fairly. With realistic expectations of timeframes, you can better plan your life amidst the uncertainty. Call us today for your free consultation at 305-370-3255