The Beatles song rings through my head as I post this…wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head…but I digress.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident (or another type of accident) and have hired a lawyer or are looking to do so you might want to know what goes on while your attorney works on your case. It may seem like nothing, and at times you are right, nothing. Lots of time is spent waiting for responses. However, I will try and fill the void by explaining what goes on from the personal injury lawyer’s point of view during the pendency of a case.
After I meet with the client and decide to take the case (some I do, some I don’t) the first step is to set up a file. I immediately (right after the first meeting so that everything is clear in my head) dictate a detailed intake memo to go into the file. Next is to order medical records and (if necessary) hire the investigator to do his thing. I always think it is best to get the investigation do as soon as possible before witnesses disappear or forget details.
After all of the necessary investigation gets done there are two paths. Litigation (file suit) or non-litigation (negotiate with the insurance claims adjuster to attempt to arrive at a settlement without suing). Many times it is necessary to sue right away, other times attempting to reach an out of court settlement is better for the client. As a former insurance claims adjuster, I feel that I am proficient at dealing with adjusters and getting them the information in a manner which will end up in my clients receiving the maximum monetary settlement possible. I have also been very successful in the litigation game as well over all of these years.
If a settlement is reached out of court, the injured client signs a release then gets paid. End of case. If no settlement gets reached, the lawsuit is the beginning of a battle. A battle that in many cases takes many months, if not years, not resolve. Expect your life to be very heavily and thoroughly dissected by the insurance company lawyers. This portion of litigation is what we lawyers refer to as “discovery”.Although many times necessary, litigation is rarely a pleasant experience for the client.
Of course, many injury cases get settled after filing suit. The courts require litigants to engage in different forms of ADR (alternate dispute resolution) which often (but not always) lead to settlements of disputes in personal injury cases. Most courts also require the parties to attend a “settlement conference before trial to make certain that there is no hope of settlement before the trial starts. A trial (and sometimes appeal) are the final stages in this litigation process.
As an Kalamazoo personal injury attorney and automobile accidents I conduct each and every step I outlined above on my own. It is more work for me, but I think the outcome is superior. Sometimes, too many spoons stirring the pot is not a good thing. I thank you for reading this. I am available for phone or in person conferences at any time, call my assistant Jan for a conference any time (269-381-4172).