I’ve Hired a Personal Injury Lawyer…Now What??
So you’ve just experienced an automobile accident or some other injury and you’ve decided to hire an attorney to represent you. You may be thinking to yourself – now what? Many people are lucky enough to have never been in a situation to need a lawyer, including a personal injury lawyer. Unfortunately, however, automobile collisions occur every single day and you may find yourself in this position one day. After hiring an attorney to represent you for an injury, you may be wondering: What are my responsibilities? What should I expect? How long does this take? Well, hopefully, this blog post will shed some light on the subject and maybe answer some of those questions that you may have after hiring a personal injury attorney.
I’ve Hired a Lawyer for My Automobile Accident – What Are My First Steps?
In the very first few days after hiring your attorney, the most critical thing to remember is to NOT talk to or communicate with any insurance carriers. You may have already been talking to an insurance adjuster or received some documents in the mail from an insurance company. There may be a few days delay before the insurance company knows that you are represented. During this time, it is critical that you leave the communication with the insurance to your attorney. You may still receive calls or mail correspondence from an insurance company for a few days to a week or more after hiring your lawyer. You should simply inform your attorney of that communication and not speak to the insurance adjuster.
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What Do I Need to Do to Help Provide Evidence for My Case?
During your initial meeting with your lawyer, you more than likely provided most of the facts and evidence that you have – an accident report, your version of the collision, etc. However, you can always assist your attorney in gathering evidence. If you have any photographs of your vehicle, the accident scene, or anything else you may think is relevant – provide those to your attorney. You may also want to take some notes of what you remember from the accident…they may help you recall the facts later on if your case progresses to litigation. You may also want to keep notes of your injuries and how your recovery is going and how it is affecting your daily life.
What Do I Need to Do to Treat My Injuries?
First of all, you do not need anyone’s permission or approval to seek medical care following an accident. Seek out the medical care that you feel you need and follow the directions of your doctors and other treatment providers. Once you have hired an attorney, you can let them take care of everything while you focus on yourself and your health. Make sure to keep up with any appointments so that there are no unexplained gaps in your treatment that could lead to any doubt as to the severity of your injuries. As you receive treatment or therapy, you need to keep your attorney updated as to your treatment plan as well as where you are being treated, so that your attorney may properly assess your case and compile the necessary medical records. If you have health insurance coverage, please make sure that your medical providers are filing their charges with your health insurance.
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What Happens During the First Few Weeks of My Case?
During the first few weeks, your attorney will be corresponding with insurance carriers involved, investigating the facts surrounding your accident, and collecting evidence such as police reports and video footage. If your vehicle was involved in the collision, your attorney will also be working to have your vehicle repaired or have you reimbursed for a total loss. Having reliable transportation is a critical need in today’s world and your attorney will be working to get you back driving as soon as possible. During this time, you most likely will also be treating your injuries with medical providers.
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I’ve Completed My Medical Treatment, What Happens Now?
Once you have completed your medical treatment, your attorney will request the necessary medical records from your treatment providers. This may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on any delays in receiving medical records. Once all of your medical records are received by your attorney, they will review and compile all of those records and billing statements, along with all of the evidence surrounding your case, and create a demand package to be sent to the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. After this demand package is sent to an insurance adjuster, the adjuster will have to review the records and the negotiation phase of your accident claim will begin. After an initial review over the course of several weeks, the insurance adjuster will make an offer to resolve your claim and your attorney will work with you and the adjuster to negotiate a fair and proper settlement. Eventually, the insurance company will reach a maximum amount of a settlement offer that they are willing to offer, and your attorney will discuss this offer in detail with you to determine if you would like to settle your claim or proceed to litigation (filing a lawsuit).
My Case Didn’t Settle, What Should I Expect if My Case Goes Into Litigation?
There are numerous risks and possible rewards to filing a lawsuit in your case…in fact, so much that it deserves its own post. However, as a client, you should be prepared for two major things to change if your case goes into litigation. First, your role as the client will increase dramatically. As you, the client, are the source of most of the evidence of an accident claim, you most likely will be called upon to testify, answer questions, provide documents, and generally be much more involved in the process, ultimately leading up to physically testifying in front of a court and jury should the case proceed to a trial. Second, the timeline will be greatly affected. The litigation process is a process full of time limits, deadlines, and other scheduling constraints; however, in reality, the scheduling of depositions, mediations, hearings, and trial all ultimately result in your case’s timeline being lengthened by months, even years.
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