If you, a loved one, or a friend have been injured in an accident, it is important to understand your options for legal recourse in a personal injury case. However, you may not know who to ask or where to turn for information. As an experienced personal injury and accident attorney, let me walk you through the ten major steps of a typical personal injury case, before it gets to court.
If you are looking for information, this step has most likely already taken place. However you may be wondering if the accident or injury is one that you can be legally compensated for. At our firm we handle car and motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, bike accidents, and many other types of injuries cases. The best and easiest thing to do is to ask. Please call us for a FREE CONSULTATION to determine if your or a loved one's injury is one for which you or they should be compensated.
Get Treatment As Soon As Possible
Once you or a loved one has been injured in an accident one of the most important, if not the most important thing, to do is to get treatment as soon as possible. Delaying treatment may not only be detrimental to your health and your speedy recovery, but if there is a large gap between the injury and treatment it could hurt your ability to seek legal compensation. If health coverage or the expense of treatment are an issue do not hesitate to contact our firm as we can put you in touch with health providers who will treat you now and worry about being paid when you are able to obtain compensation for your accident.
Meet With An Attorney For Your Injury Case
Talk to a lawyer ASAP. While it is possible to handle a personal injury claim on your own, there are many benefits to having an attorney. See our previous article "Do I Need a Lawyer to Handle My Injury Case?" for some insights as to how an attorney can help you. Again, you should feel free to call or contact us at any time for a FREE CONSULTATION regarding your accident and injuries and your rights. When we are retained by a client, the first thing we do is to immediately send a letter to the insurance company letting the insurers know that you are represented. Once that letter is received by the insurers, they cannot communicate with you directly and must communicate through us.
Order The Accident/Police Report
After you hire us as your attorney, we will typically obtain a copy of the accident or crash report immediately. If there has been no report we will often send a letter to whoever is responsible for your injury asking them to preserve any and all evidence. For example, if you were injured by slipping at a gas station, we may send a letter asking the gas station to preserve surveillance tapes, cleaning logs, etc. Finally, we often will conduct an investigation of our own. For example we may go to the site where you were injured and take pictures or go the tow yard to take pictures of your car.
Keep a Journal
After the investigative process is complete we wait for you to finish your medical treatment. During this time it is important to keep a journal detailing all they ways your injuries are affecting your life. Journal entries may include things like your inability to walk your dog, pick up your kids, etc. We will use this information later on. But most of all your focus during this time should be to get better!
Records and Bills
As you finish treating we will order your records and bills for each medical provider. Depending on who your medical providers are it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for us to compile all of your records and bills. If you have missed work as a result of your accident we may also collect certain tax documents during this time.
The Demand Package
Once we have all your records, bills, journal entries, accident reports, and any other information we have requested, we begin working on your demand package. A demand package is essentially a large letter showing how the insured was liability or responsible for your injuries, highlighting your injuries, your expenses, and the pain and suffering you have been through since your accident. We send copies of all your records and bills when we send out the demand package. Also, before sending out the demand, we consult regarding what will be our opening settlement offer and include it in the demand.
Evaluation and Counter Offer
It will take several weeks for the insurance company to evaluate your demand and read through all your records. Once the insurance company has reviewed everything and accepted liability, they will call our office with a settlement offer and from there we begin negotiating.
It is hard to predict how quickly the negotiation process will go. It is different every time. We negotiate not only with the insurance company but also with any lien holders and medical providers until we reach a settlement amount that everyone can agree on. Through the negotiating process, our primary goal is to maximize the amount of money you will receive.
Once we have an amount to which everyone agrees and once we have worked on reducing your medical bills, the claim is settled and the responsible party is released from any further obligation. In the unlikely event that we are unable to settle we meet with you to discuss our options and will likely begin the formal litigation process while continuing to negotiate.
Again, if you or a loved one have been injured, PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE IMMEDIATELY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION.