The Value Of An Experienced Attorney
While you can technically handle a personal injury accident and the peripheral legal matters on your own, doing so puts you at a clear disadvantage. Beyond that, you don’t need just any personal injury attorney – you need someone who knows how to successfully navigate the litigation of auto and trucking accident injury claims.
The truth is, dealing with your own insurance company is challenging enough, and having to deal with the other parties’ insurance companies is exponentially more so. What’s more, if you are involved in a multiple-vehicle accident, you could end up dealing with multiple insurance companies. Unfortunately, an attorney without experience in this particular area of law may not possess the necessary knowledge and experience to handle such a situation effectively.
Litigation Versus Going To Trial
Many people hold the belief that litigation just means going to trial, but this isn’t exactly true. In reality, there are many different forms of litigation.
For example, a litigated case can be resolved by simply negotiating with the insurance company or the other responsible party. And more often than not, our firm resolves cases through mediation, where a neutral mediator facilitates a resolution between the involved parties by helping them reach a mutually agreeable settlement. Sometimes a case may even go to arbitration, which you can think of as a trial without a jury. In this process, the arbitrator acts as the judge, hearing both sides of the case and giving a judgment.
Of course, some cases do end up going to trial, (which can be a very unusual experience for people who have never been in court before), but roughly 95% of cases settle before that point. In fact, it’s very rare to make it the whole way to trial – it’s much more common for a case to go through all the stages of trial preparation only for it to settle within a week of the actual trial date.
However, while the likelihood of going to trial in a personal injury case may be relatively low, it’s crucial not to underestimate its importance. Regardless of whether your case ends up in court, it’s essential to be fully prepared as though you will be presenting your evidence before a judge and jury. This level of preparation has to be there because – trial or no trial – it can significantly impact the outcome of your case.
It should be noted at this point that perhaps the most critical aspect of being prepared for trial is having substantial evidence to support your claims. This includes collecting and presenting relevant documents, medical records, and eyewitness testimonies. Meanwhile, sometimes the weight of expert testimony is the most persuasive factor in strengthening your case.
Expert testimony can provide critical insights into the circumstances surrounding your injury, helping to establish liability and prove the extent of damages. At our practice, we’ve seen the significant impact that expert support makes in these cases firsthand. Over the years, our team has worked with countless medical and liability experts proficient in downloading crucial data from vehicles and using computer mapping to accurately reconstruct accidents.
But why explain all of this? Because although you, as the client, will not be directly involved in arranging these things, it’s helpful that you know the importance of doing as such so you can hold your attorney to that standard if it ever becomes necessary.
The Beginning Of A Personal Injury Claim
Now that we have established some important context, let’s dive in on some more practical things, like how a personal injury claim unfolds.
For starters, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Once you do, they should try to obtain the police report that was created at the scene of the accident, if there is one. This gives all the information about who was involved in the accident, any eyewitnesses to the accident, and the relevant insurance companies. Then, you can notify anyone involved in the case that you have legal representation and that they should reach out to your attorney rather than you.
If it’s a case where liability is not clear, we would immediately photograph the scene of the accident or send out a reconstruction expert to try to preserve the evidence and the facts that we’ll need to support our case later down the road.
Next, we take the approach that ensures our clients get the appropriate medical treatment for their injury and we carefully manage the process of submitting any bills to their insurance carrier. This process always gets a little bit confusing and tricky, which is why our firm goes out of its way to handle this part of a claim. A good personal injury attorney should do the same for you.
The Insurance Side Of A Claim
Once the insurance companies are notified, everyone involved has first party medical benefits. Depending on the specific circumstances, the first $5,000 to $15,000 of your medical bills must be submitted to your carrier for payment. It will then process them, at which point your attorney communicates with the insurance carrier.
It is important to note that you might get to a point where these benefits are exhausted, requiring you to start submitting bills to your private health insurance. Private health insurance companies or state programs like Medicare keep track of what you submit and what they pay out since there’s the potential to recover it from a third party. They may even start accumulating a lien.
As far as interacting with the responsible party’s insurance carrier goes – our team will reach out to them immediately. Insurance companies will attempt to get a recorded statement from everyone involved in the accident. They often ask questions that benefit their position, and are likely to twist things you say to that end. As such, we strongly discourage anyone from speaking to an insurance company because it will be manipulated against you later in the case.
At this point, if we feel that we have a good sense of the value of the case, we typically write a demand letter to the responsible party’s insurance carrier. In it, we state what happened, that the liability is clear, outline our client’s injuries, and demand they compensate the client. From there, we wait to see what happens. Sometimes some insurance companies will quickly get involved in negotiations, whereas others ignore us or appoint opposing counsel of their own.
For more information on Litigating Auto & Trucking Accident Injury Claims, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (717) 832-9824 today.