Popular media may have you believe that every personal injury case is litigated in ornate court rooms with opinionated jury members voting for a multi-million dollar verdict. While it is true that some cases do make it to the courtroom, the percentage of such cases is much lower when compared to those that are settled by savvy attorneys on both sides. There are many practical considerations that must be considered while deciding whether or not to take a case to litigation. Trials are expensive and the outcome during litigation is often unpredictable.
Pre-litigation process for personal injury claims
Although pre-litigation may not sound as glamorous as going to the courtroom, at times it is a practical way to achieve the desired outcome and ensure just compensation for the victim involved in a personal injury claim. Essentially, the pre-litigation phase involves a series of steps that develop the case in a persuasive manner. Often, the work done during pre-litigation carries over to the litigation stage. Here are some of the steps that may go into the pre-litigation process:
Client intake, investigation, and case assessment
Although ignored by some, attorneys at Sai Lawyer take the client intake and case assessment process very seriously. The intake essentially builds a foundation of what is to be accomplished through the lifecycle of the personal injury claim. This is the stage where our team tries to gather detailed information about the injury, the parties involved, supporting evidence, witnesses, and the like. This the stage where we focus on three important elements: facts, facts, and more facts. The facts must answer many questions: Who are the parties? Did the defendant act with reasonable care? Is the theory of liability solid? Was the victim negligent in any manner?
Claim filing; Evidence, evidence, evidence
Once we are certain the facts support a claim, we file a claim with the insurance company if one has not been filed already. The evidence gathering process goes on simultaneously while we file a claim with all concerned entities. A claim, no matter how strong, cannot succeed unless it is supported by evidence and this is why the quest for evidence is pursued alongside the claim filing process. Once the claim has been filed, the insurance company will assign an adjuster to your personal injury claim and this individual will be our primary point of contact during the pre litigation stage.
The significance of evidence cannot be underrated. If facts lay the foundation of a case, evidence builds the structure. During the evidence gathering stage, our team often interviews various parties and a prepares a comprehensive investigation file. We try to gather as much supporting evidence as possible: Police reports, investigation documents, witness statements, medical and billing records, wage loss information, economic and non-economic damages. Essentially, we do everything possible to support our legal theories on the basis of concrete evidence. During this stage we also obtain information related to any liens that may exist. This may require that we work with subrogation teams supporting insurance companies.
Persuasive demand letter
Once we have the facts and the evidence, we go on to prepare a persuasive demand letter. The document is replete with legal theories, basis for liability, evidence, general damages, pain and suffering statements, other losses, calculations, and a demand for an amount that would compensate the victim of a personal injury claim. The demand letter also provides a timeline and future steps if our demand is not accepted.
At this stage, the insurance adjuster will evaluate the claim and come back with an offer. We do not have to take the first offer that comes our way and our attorneys will try to negotiate a fairer settlement to compensate our clients. Often, offers and counteroffers are made between the insurance company and our attorneys and our attorneys will make a good faith effort to settle the claim amicably.
What happens if a settlement is not reached?
Depending on what is offered, if a settlement is not reached your attorney will have to work closely with you to make a decision about future steps. A variety of things could happen during this stage depending on the facts of the case. The client may decide to accept the offer, or ask the attorney to file a formal complaint (translation: litigation begins). Depending on the terms of relationship, the same attorney may file a complaint or the client may work with a different firm for the litigation stage.
If you need help with your personal injury claim, call Sai Lawyer at 1-559-399-0363 to determine if we can be of assistance. For personal injury claims, we do not charge an upfront fee but will work on a contingency basis. Unless we win your case or reach a settlement, we do not get paid.