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Personal Injury law basics (Pre-Litigation)

You have suffered an injury and someone else is surely responsible for those injuries. The last thing you want is to deal with the hassle of contacting that person or the insurance company and get no response. The debt accrued from injuries could be substantial and may lead to bad credit, if not taken care of within a reasonable timeframe. You have decided to hire an attorney, what are the next steps. What is your attorney doing behind the scenes?
1.  Preliminary Steps
If you are ever involved in an accident there are certain steps you may take to assist in having a “good” case. Below are things that you should try to obtain:
  • Take Pictures (scene, injuries, property damage)
  • Obtain a Police report
  • Get Witness information, if applicable
  • Defendants demographics (insurance, drivers license, license plate number)
Of course, every case is somewhat different and many times you are unable to obtain all of the things listed above, but the more information, the better for your case. Contact a personal injury attorney Arlington TX relies on immediately to discuss your legal options.
As soon as you sign a contract with a personal injury attorney, they will send a letter of representation to the defendant/insurance company on your behalf. Anything relating to your claim will now be handled by your attorney. Please note: it is strongly recommended that you do not speak with an insurance representative until you speak with an attorney.
2.  Seeking treatment
If you have suffered injuries, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are transported by an ambulance to the nearest hospital an attorney will collect the medical records and billing summary to submit to the responsible party/insurance company.
You have been released from the hospital, but are still experiencing pain and discomfort, now what? Well, you are strongly recommended to seek additional medical treatment. There are many providers (Chiropractors, specialists, radiologists, etc.) whom are able to treat you without payment upfront. Typically, if you are represented by an attorney, some providers will treat you with a letter of protection. A letter of protection advises the treating provider that they will be compensated from a future settlement or verdict award. Auto liability insurances will not pay for services during treatment.
During your treatment, an attorney will not do an extensive amount of work on your case because they are waiting for treatment to be completed. Upon completing treatment, the attorney will begin collecting all medical records and billing statements from every provider that rendered services, including hospitals and ambulances.
3.  Medical expense recovery
Once all medical records and billing statements are retrieved from each provider, an attorney will prepare a demand package. A demand package typically includes the facts of the case, medical records, medical billing statements and any additional expenses. Some additional expenses that may be recovered are loss of wages, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, loss of consortium, mental anguish, etc. Once the demand package has been completed it will be mailed or sent electronically to the insurance company. An insurance company is given thirty (30) days to evaluate the demand package and contact the attorney with a reasonable offer.
4.  Negotiation/Settlement
Now, the settlement stage may include several steps before reaching a settlement agreement. Usually, an attorney or paralegal begin to negotiate with the assigned insurance adjuster to reach an agreement on what seems reasonable and fair for each case; this is a case by case basis, not all cases settle for the same amount. There are times that no settlement agreement is reached and an attorney will advise you on other legal options you may have.
If you decide to settle your case after consulting with your attorney, you will be asked to sign a “release of all injuries and claims.” In short, you are releasing the person who caused your injuries from liability. Once the release is signed, the case will be closed, upon payment to providers.
5.  Should I pursue a lawsuit?
Well, it depends. Some injury cases are not good candidates for a lawsuit. You are encouraged to seek legal advice from an attorney to explore further options.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law PLLC for their insight into personal injury basics in the pre-litigation phase.