If you live out of state and you bring a personal injury claim in Florida there may be times during the process that you will have to come back to Florida.
If your claim is able to handled and resolved without the filing of a lawsuit, you do not have to return, however, because of the current climate with insurance companies, many times a lawsuit needs to be filed to get a client a fair settlement.
You don't have to live in Florida while your case is being prosecuted, but there may be times you will be required to return.
The first time that you will have to return is for your deposition. A deposition is when the insurance company's lawyer takes your statement under oath.
While this may seem like a hassle, there are benefits as well. An insurance company uses a variety of factors in determining settlement offers including credibility and general likability.
You will also be able to show them any scarring or disfigurement resulting from your injuries.
Generally, you are required to appear for your deposition in person, however, if your doctor won't allow you to travel because of your injuries, there are things that can be done to accommodate your attendance like video conferencing. This is an exception, not the norm.
Florida also allows the insurance company lawyer to have you examined by a doctor of their choosing in order to evaluate your injuries.This is called an Independent Medical Exam (IME) or a Compulsory Medical Exam (CME). There are rules that govern these exams, which your lawyer can explain to you in further detail.
The judge will also require you to attend mediation in person, which is a court ordered informal settlement conference with a neutral third party, usually a lawyer.
And finally, if your case did not settle at mediation, you will have to come to Florida and appear for trial.
In practice, most insurance company lawyers, understand the hassle of travel, and will attempt to coordinate multiple events during the same trip. For instance, your deposition may be scheduled one day and the CME another day. Or mediation may be scheduled and if the case doesn't settle then you will go the exam a day or two after the mediation.
To recap, there are up to 4 events that you will have to appear for in person, your deposition, your exam if requested, mediation, and if the case doesn't resolve trial.
If you live out of town and you were injured in Florida and have questions, call (352) 267-9168, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD, PA