Nah, it shouldn’t look like that guy.
Your injury claim process should, in the best situations, look something like this:
*There is a video summary of this stuff here:
We probably discussed this in our initial interview, but I like to make sure we’re all on the same page as we move forward with your case. So you’ll be able to look back at this document to understand what I’m doing on your case and what your responsibilities are, I’ve outlined below how most cases will progress.
If the insurance company doesn’t already know, I’ll make sure a claim is set up with the at-fault insurance company. They may request a recorded statement from you to help their initial set-up. If so, we’ll discuss whether or not we want to do that. You should make sure I’m aware of any alternative insurance coverage that you have as well, including Medical Payments coverage, Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage, or anything else. I can set up those claims as well. Don’t talk to any insurance company representatives. My job at this phase is to make sure the insurance company is off of your back so you can focus on what’s really important: your health. Parenthetically, I will add your email address to my monthly newsletter list. Please let me know if you would prefer to not be on that list.
*IF your vehicle was not totaled, AND you believe that the damage done to the vehicle will dramatically affect the resale value of it, then you should act immediately to secure a diminished value appraisal. If you require assistance in coordinating this, please let me know immediately. Failure to act on this promptly can make recovery on this issue difficult or impossible, so act now if you think it is an issue. Also, if your vehicle is in storage, let me know ASAP and work on getting it out if necessary!
If you’ve hired me to help with your case, you’re probably injured. That means you’ll be getting some kind of health care treatment. I’d like to hear from you every two to four weeks just to get an update as to how your treatment is progressing. There are many developments that can occur, so knowing where things are headed will help me handle your claim that much better. Make sure you’re sending me copies of bills as you receive them and make sure I’m aware of ALL of the health care providers related to your claim. If you have health insurance by all means use it! There are some circumstances, like with chiropractors, that you may not need to use your health insurance. Talk to me if you have questions about that. If you don’t have insurance, talk to me about how bills get paid and what sort of plan you might need to come up with. They don’t have to suspend collections, but if you send me copies of the letters you send I can ask them to do so. If your health insurance contacts you about your claim, particularly asking if someone else is responsible for your accident or simply asking to be paid back, you should let me know immediately. We normally won’t try to settle your case until you’ve reached what’s called “Maximum Medical Improvement,” meaning you’re as good as you’re going to get after your injury. This will help me know how to value your claim and how to move forward, so it’s important I know when you’re released from care. Also, don’t forget to keep a pain journal about how your injuries are affecting you every day and what you are missing out on.
An important note on EMS bills: They WILL garnish your wages if you don’t pay them something (health insurance, payment arrangements, etc.) so let me know if they are hassling you ASAP.
When you tell me you’re done with treatment, that’s when I’ll get all of your records and bills together. For the most part I’ll be able to get all of that stuff on my own. Some providers are fast and some are slow with these things, so bear with me during this process. What I won’t be able to get will be documentation of your lost wage claim. If you have one, you will need to get me something from your employer stating clearly how much time you lost and how much money that represents to you. If you’re interested in claiming any other damages as a result of this claim, you should let me know now so we can determine if it’s feasible and how we can document it.
After I have all of the documentation necessary to value your claim, you and I will discuss what I think a reasonable settlement goal is for your case. At this assessment, I will take into consideration liability arguments, possible defenses, damages, proof of causation, and intangibles. I will compare these factors of your case with similar cases I’ve had or other attorneys have had to determine what we should be looking for. I’ll then prepare a settlement brochure with a demand letter clearly documenting your damages and explaining our theory as to why your case is so good (of course I’ll puff a little). Afterward the insurance company will evaluate it and we will negotiate; they’ll work me down and I’ll work them up. At a certain point we will both cease moving and you and I will know whether or not we will get this case settled. If we don’t, then we’ll have to talk about litigation, which is a whole memo unto itself. If we do get it settled…
…then in most cases the insurance company will send us two things: 1) a two-party check and, 2) a release. The two-party check will be written to you AND to my office. I’ll need you to sign that check so I can run it through my trust account to make sure it clears (I have had insurance companies bounce checks on me) and so I can disburse the funds as necessary for your case. This is where we will pay outstanding medical bills, liens, fees, and other expenses, AND you’ll get your check. The clearing process takes at least a week in the bank, so once again, bear with me during this process. The release will need to be signed by you (and sometimes notarized). This document normally simply says that you are not going to sue the defendants over any aspect of this claim any more. Normally, I’ll mail you the check and release so you can sign both of these documents at the same time. I’ll call you when your check is ready and I can mail it to you or you can come by if you like. I will often leave your check on the sill outside my office so you can come by as you are available. This doesn’t mean that I am trying to avoid you! I do this for YOUR benefit so you’re not tied to my very, very busy schedule. Almost every day I’m meeting with new or old clients, in and out of the office, am in court, or am in a meeting of some sort, so it’s really hard to catch me when most people are available, so this works best for most people.
There you have it. This should explain most of what will happen in the normal claim. As always if there are any deviations I’ll do my best to let you know. If you have any questions, just call! I look forward to working with you.