Closing Your Personal Injury Case

You were injured in an accident. It could have been a motor vehicle accident, an animal attack, exposure to a dangerous chemical, or perhaps another kind of injury. It was not your fault. Your injuries affected all aspects of your life. You were angry and confused. But you hired a competent Las Vegas personal injury attorney. You sought medical treatment. You slowly pieced your life back together. You are now coping with your losses and have found some semblance of normalcy. You are done treating. You just want to put this case behind you. What happens next?

If your attorneys have done their job, you haven't really had to worry about much other than focusing on your health and perhaps getting the attorneys some information and signing some documents. Your attorney has been dealing with the insurance company and gathering documents and records.

At that point when you're done treating (or if you're still treating but the statute of limitations is drawing close), you've hopefully put the worst of your injuries behind you, and are now focusing on putting the case to bed. You may have lost work, you have mounting medical bills, and money is tight. You had no idea how much the injury would pervade every aspect of your life.

Now that treatment is done, your attorneys can make damages calculations. They'll be getting records from your employer and from all the medical providers that have treated you. They'll be adding up all the medical bills and the wages you've lost (including if you missed work but were paid anyway, perhaps by taking paid time off or accrued vacation).

Your attorneys will be asking you specifically about how your life was affected by your injuries because they'll want to know how much value to place on incalculable damages, like pain and suffering. In short, they'll be gathering all the information they need to write a demand letter to the at-fault party (or its insurance company) in an effort to seek financial compensation for your injuries.

Once the demand letter is written, your attorneys will go over the figures with you. They will explain their rationale and ask for your approval of the demand (which is required before they can send it). 

Once you've agreed, the attorneys will send the demand to the at-fault party. If an insurance company is the one getting the demand, the law requires that they respond within thirty (30) days. That response will likely be either an offer to settle, a denial of the claim, or notice that they need more time because the claim is being investigated.

If they make an offer, negotiations ensue. Your attorneys will be in contact with you to make sure you're involved in the negotiations (again, the attorney needs your approval before accepting any settlement offer or making any settlement demand). If you can reach an agreement, then the attorney will work with the insurance company to have you sign a release in exchange for the settlement check.

The release basically states that you and the insurance company have agreed to resolve your claims completely—they will make a payment to you, and in exchange, you agree to waive your right to pursue the case and can never make a claim against them again for the same injury or accident.

If you cannot reach an agreement, then the attorneys will likely file a lawsuit on your behalf. The purpose of filing a lawsuit is to start the process that ends with a jury—if the insurance company will not make a fair settlement offer, then perhaps a jury will.

Once the lawsuit is initiated, the insurance company typically turns the case over to an attorney, at which point your attorneys will be dealing with the defense attorneys. At this juncture, sometimes the defense attorneys disagree with the evaluation of the insurance adjusters and will settle the case for an amount the insurance companies were not previously willing to agree to. More often, though, defense attorneys will at least engage in some discovery to try and figure out what the strengths and weaknesses of the case are.

If a case does go to litigation, that doesn't mean it will go to trial. Most cases do not go to trial. The parties can still reach an agreement at any point during litigation, including at or after trial.

Almost all plaintiffs are eager to get their case over and done with, but it takes two to settle. The case will only settle if both parties agree. Which means finding an amount that the plaintiff is happy to accept and that the defendant is willing to pay.

in the final analysis, a personal injury case can take between a couple of weeks and several years to wrap up after the injured victim has finished treatment. It all depends on the facts of your case, the risk aversion of both the injured party and the at-fault party, and the attorneys representing each.

Attorneys at Parry & Pfau can help you maximize the value of your personal injury case. Call Them now at 702-912-4451.

 

Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or zach@p2lawyers.com.