What To Expect If You File A Lawsuit Against Your Insurance Company
A person’s home is not only a place of shelter and comfort, but usually their most valuable asset. When an incident or storm occurs that damages a home, residential losses can lead to extreme emotional and financial stress. These stress factors can be compounded when an insurance company unfairly reduces or denies coverage following a property damage incident.
Sometimes, a homeowner is left with little choice but to retain an attorney and pursue legal options in court. Lawsuits involving property insurance disputes are not uncommon, but if you are the plaintiff, chances are it is your first time taking an insurance company to court.
For many homeowners, being part of an insurance litigation matter can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Some may be surprised at the length of time involved in a legal case, or rounds of questioning they may need to participate in to settle a case or bring it to its conclusion. There is also the fear of the unknown – uncertainty over whether a certain result will happen, or whether the case will turn out in their favor.
It helps to know some of the typical steps and procedures involved, such as:
- Pre-Suit Investigation
After you contact the property damage attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, we will take time to meet with you as long as needed, and to learn as much as possible about your home or property where the loss occurred. We will assess the damage and examine the steps taken by both the insured property owner and the insurance company to that point.
During this stage, it helps to have as much documentation available as possible. This can help guide your legal strategy and clarify what it is you are looking to achieve through litigation. Usually, this is as simple as asking the insurer to cover a claim as directed within the policy and to make the property owner “whole” again.
- Litigation – Initial Stages
The litigation phase officially begins when a lawsuit is filed and served on the other party – in this case the insurance company (or their registered agent). The insurance company will have 20 days from when they were served to file a response to the complaint. (This will usually be a general denial of the allegations.)
Once this initial stage is complete, the Plaintiff will file requests for discovery from the Defendant. “Discovery” is a term used to define the exchange of documents and information that one party has in their possession, and the other party seeks to obtain. These include important documents that can be used at trial, but this exchange can also frequently lead to a settlement agreement once the parties can analyze all available information.
If the case continues without a settlement beyond these preliminary stages, a court will often order both sides to mediation. The parties and their attorneys will attend mediation through a neutral mediator that does not work for either side – their goal is to see if an agreement can be made between Plaintiff and Defendant. If not, the mediator will let the court know their results and the case will continue.
- Pretrial Motions
As settlement discussions remain ongoing, attorneys for both sides will typically file pretrial motions geared toward a specific outcome. These can clarify the issues for trial later on, or can request a judgment in their favor through a motion for summary judgment. The motion for summary judgment is typically filed by a Plaintiff, while a Defendant may file a motion to dismiss under Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure.
This is the final stage of the litigation process. If the case is not resolved through mediation, settlement discussions, or pre-trial motions filed by the attorneys, the case will proceed to trial at which evidence is presented and testimony is given. This is usually the most nerve-wracking phase of a lawsuit for property owners, but with a skilled and experienced attorney at their side, this part doesn’t have to be as stressful.
Our Daytona, Florida Property Damage Attorneys Can Help at All Stages of a Property Damage Lawsuit
The Daytona property damage insurance attorneys at Bundza & Rodriguez, P.A., have years of experience handling all areas of property damage litigation, and know what to expect. We can help guide you through the process from start to finish to get the most out of your property damage claim. To learn more, call our Daytona law offices today at 386-252-5170, or schedule a consultation with our Daytona Beach property damage attorneys online.