Personal injury cases most often result from traumatic accidents that can leave you feeling scared and unsure of what to do. The process after the accident can be very confusing, causing even more stress. Today Attorney, Katrina Schaefer talks about the process and steps in a personal injury case to give you an idea of what happens when you bring your accident claim to personal injury attorneys at the Lombardi Law Firm.
1) Client Intake:
After making contact with our firm, we speak with the potential client to obtain preliminary personal information, discuss the injuries sustained and treatment, as well as obtain a signed fee contract.
2) Insurance Companies Information:
After obtaining all necessary information from the new client, we send letters of representation to the insurance companies for our client and the other parties involved in the accident. We then acquire the information regarding the policies held by the parties involved, including the monetary limits on the policies.
3) Medical Records and Bills:
We then write to all treating physicians, physical therapists, etc. that our client sought treatment with to obtain medical records, bills, notes, and x-rays. By collecting and organizing this data, we can understand the course of treatment our clients experienced and the extent of their injuries. This allows us to value the case and determine what amount we will demand of the insurance companies.
4) Demand Letter; or File Petition:
Once the client has finished medical treatment or has reached "maximum medical improvement," we then finish valuing the case and write a demand letter to the insurance company with our evaluation of the claim and how much money we are asking for to make our client whole after the injury.
In the alternative, we may file a petition with the court, beginning the legal process within the court system. The petition will normally allege negligence on the part of the other party, lay out the facts of the case, and the judgment demanded. The time to file a personal injury case is within two years after the date of the accident. This is called the "statute of limitations." After those two years have passed, the client can no longer bring a claim for that injury or receive compensation from the insurance company.
5) Negotiation and Settlement
After sending a demand letter to the insurance company, they will then make a counteroffer and negotiation discussions will begin. This can be quite long and drawn out, or very simple if both sides agree quickly.
If the parties cannot agree, they may decide to go to meditation, where a third party will mediate negotiation discussions with the hopes of reaching a settlement on that day.
If a petition is filed rather than a demand letter, however, discovery is then sent to the opposing side to obtain information. This includes interrogatories, or questions, that the other side must answer, as well as requests for documents that the other side has in its possession. Even if a petition is filed, the case often will settle outside of the courtroom. If not, the end result will be a trial to determine the amount to be awarded, if any, to the client.