Instructions to My Injured Clients
You Should NOT DO:
BIG MISTAKES clients make:
Follow Your Doctor's Advice Be sure to do what your doctors tell you to. If you are in pain and you do not see a doctor, the insurance company and the jury will not believe that you are having pain. It is very important for you to work hard to get well and to go to all of your appointments.
First Steps In Representing You When you are first interviewed, general information regarding your case is obtained. Materials relating to things you should or should not do will be furnished to you. You will be requested to sign certain authorization forms which will allow us to obtain your medical records and other necessary information. We will notify the person who was responsible for your injury and/or their insurance company that you have retained us as your attorneys. Requests for your chart and billing information will be sent to all of the doctors and hospitals involved in your care.
Please be sure that all medical bills related to your injury are sent to our office so that we may forward them to the appropriate insurance company.
Keep Detailed Records Please be sure to record the following:
Why Does It Take So Long? We cannot make your claim until after the doctors have given us reports stating exactly what your medical condition is and what they expect it to be in the future: in other words, until you have reached "maximum medical improvements." Many times the doctors will be very slow in making these reports. We may even, on occasion, ask you to contact your doctor to speed up this report. If we try to settle your case before your medical condition is stabilized, you may lose money that you might be entitled to for a condition that did not show up until after your case was settled. It is important to know that your case will not be settled until the damages have been determined and all investigations to determine who is liable have been completed. It generally takes several months to gather the necessary information. If a trial becomes necessary, it can take several years to complete a case. One of the most difficult requests we make of you is to have patience. We will work as hard and fast as possible to settle your case quickly.
What Is The Value Of My Case? It is impossible for us to tell immediately how much money, if any, you will recover in connection with your case. There is no formula and each case is unique. In cases of serious injury, the ultimate recovery is often related to the amount of insurance coverage available, as well as the nature, extent and duration of your injuries, along with an assessment of liability. As your attorneys, we feel it is our primary duty to obtain an amount of money which will fairly and justly compensate you for your injuries. We will make every effort to do this by locating all sources of money. We will advise you of our evaluation in this regard. In general, most states allow recovery of damages for the following elements of damage:
Filing A Lawsuit It may be necessary to file a lawsuit to obtain an adequate recovery. This is a legal decision that should be made by your attorney with your input. Before filing suit in your case, we will obtain your permission and explain to you why we believe a lawsuit should be filed. Although a lawsuit may have to be filed, settlement is always possible. Negotiations continue and only a small percentage of lawsuits actually go to trial. The following steps are necessary to bring a case to trial:
A. Pleadings Pleadings are the documents parties file in court that form the basis of a lawsuit. This is intended to be general information only.
Each case is unique.
1. Complaint or Petition. A lawsuit is filed against an opposing party by filing a document in court known as a complaint or petition. The person who brings the action is the plaintiff (you). The person against whom the action is brought is the defendant. The petition is a statement of facts alleging the names of the parties and alleging why the conduct of the defendant entitles the plaintiff to recover damages.
2. Summons. Once the plaintiff's petition is filed, a "summons" is issued to be served on the defendant by an officer of the Court, usually a Deputy Sheriff or process server. This informs the defendant that a suit has been filed and that a response must be made within a given period of time or a judgment will be taken against him or her.
3. Answer or Motion. The response filed by the defendant is called an Answer, which is prepared by the attorney for the defendant. Alternatively, if a defense attorney feels there is a fatal flaw with the lawsuit, he or she may file a motion to dismiss the complaint or to strike portions of the complaint.
B. Discovery Once an action is filed, both sides have a right to "discover" facts concerning the opposing party's case. Normal discovery proceedings include written interrogatories, depositions, production of records, and sometimes medical examinations
1. Depositions: A "deposition" is an oral and transcribed statement, under oath, which may be used by either side in a lawsuit. It has the same effect as testifying at trial. It is used to learn as much as possible about the other side's claims or defenses. Those present are the parties concerned, their lawyers, sometimes an additional witness or two, and a court reporter who records the questions and answers. The lawyers normally agree in advance where the deposition will be held. It is usually in the office of one of the lawyers. You are required by law to give a deposition. This is not something in which we have a choice. Because of this, we will need your full cooperation. Prior to the deposition, your lawyer will go over the facts of the case with you and answer any questions you might have.
YOUR DEPOSTION IS OFTEN THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR CASE. It is important that you be prepared well in advance of the deposition date.
Mediation There are occasions when the parties submit the dispute to "mediation." The parties meet with an independent third person, usually an experienced lawyer or retired judge, who assists the parties in arriving at a settlement. The results are not binding. It is informal and less expensive than a trial. If this is an option in your case, your lawyer will discuss it with you.
Uninsured/Underinsured Driver If you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may be eligible for benefits under your own policy or the policy that covered the vehicle you were in. Many insurance companies have special "uninsured motorist" provisions. In most cases, you will be able to collect for your lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, etc., in the same way as if the driver that hit you did have insurance. We ask that you provide us with a complete copy of your own insurance policy in force at the time of the accident.
Claims Against The Government Any injury claim, whether it stems from a car collision or other event that involves the government, is subject to special rules. The governmental entity involved may be the state, a city, a county, local government or the United States. Generally, a Notice of Claim must be filed with the appropriate governmental agency very soon following your injury. If you believe that the government may be involved in your case, please notify us immediately.