Although every personal injury case is different, there is one common factor: you and your attorney must take the proper steps to properly evaluate and handle your slip and fall or motor vehicle accident. Apersonal injury case can be long and frustrating, and can take anywhere from months or years to resolve. Knowing what to expect can alleviate some of that frustration. Below are the major steps you will need to take prior to litigation.
Collect as Much Evidence as Possible
If you’ve been involved in an accident and aren’t in need of emergency medical attention, take the time to collect as much evidence as you possibly can in order to minimize the possibility that the defendant or its insurer will deny liability. This is especially important given that Metro will no longer be responding to most non-emergency motor vehicle accidents. Take as many pictures as possible and get the contact information for any witnesses to the accident. A few minutes of investigative work on your end in the beginning could prevent the defense from devaluing your claim.
Consult with a Doctor
You will want to see a doctor as soon as possible after your accident. One way insurance companies look to devalue a claim is to exploit gaps in treatment. If you go weeks without treating with a physician, the insurance company will look at your claim with increased scrutiny. If you have a legitimate reason for not being able to seek treatment immediately, make sure to properly document it. Regular medical treatment up to the point that you are completely discharged from care is critical to receive fair compensation for your damages. If you are concerned with being able to pay for treatment, discuss the possibility of receiving treatment with a lien placed on the case settlement.
Calculate Economic Damages
You are entitled to compensation for expenses such as medical bills and wage losses (and future lost earnings). You can also receive compensation for damaged personal property (above and beyond the damage to your vehicle in an automobile accident). Your attorney should be able to walk through your accident with you and assist you in determining all out-of-pocket expenses to include in a demand to the insurer.
Calculate Non-Economic Damages
Unlike economic damages, which have values that are relatively easily ascertained, calculating non-economic damages is not an exact science. Your attorney will need to consider all factors to argue for the largest possible compensation for your non-economic damages. These include mental and physical pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of companionship, and other potential factors that may be unique to your case. A clear and thorough explanation of these damages to the insurance company is important, as the value of non-economic damages can often times greatly exceed the value of the economic damages.
Prepare a Demand
After you have concluded treatment, and have collected all records and bills and other documentation necessary to support your damages claims, your attorney will prepare a letter to the insurer outlining all of the facts of the case, including an explanation of liability, injuries, damages, and the amount demanded to settle the case. The insurance company will usually respond within roughly two weeks and will either accept, deny, or (usually) will counter with a settlement of its own.
Settle or Litigate
At this point, your attorney will negotiate to settle your case for the highest possible value for you. If the insurance company is unwilling to settle for an amount that you feel is fair to compensate you for your damages, you can then discuss with your attorney the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
You can reach Parry & Pfau for a free consultation at 702-912-4451.