After you’ve been in a car wreck and decided to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you navigate your insurance claim, you must be wondering what personal injury lawyers actually do to assist.
There are many steps a good personal injury lawyer follows to help you along the way.
First and foremost, they listen and hear you. The claim starts with you and where you are at. Are you someone that wants to get fully treated, go through all the treatments and get healed up the best they can?
Or, are you a fast healer, who prefers to get limited treatments, try to get better on your own and just work through the pain until you do. Are you too busy to make time for the treatments? Would you rather get paid less on your claim now versus waiting 9 months – 1 year before you reach a settlement (which is about how long an average case takes).
It all depends on you, what you are capable of doing and how long you think you are able to do it for. Your injury lawyer should hear what you want to do first before starting off on what he wants to do with your case.
Once you reach a consensus on how you want to approach your case the next step would be for your lawyer to schedule treatment for you with doctors or health care practitioners that he has a relationship with.
Not all health care providers know how to treat and write up great medical reports for the insurance company to review. Those reports are very important in making or breaking your case, which is why it is best to use an attorney who knows which doctors will make those reports sound good.
While you are going to your appointments over the course of a few weeks to several months, depending on the severity of your injury, your lawyer will be in touch with the insurance adjuster – updating them along the way on how your treatment is going.
Part of an insurance adjusters job is to gauge how much the accident is going to cost them from the start. They have to set aside what are known as “reserves” along the way. Reserves are just money they have to set aside. The worse the injury and insurance risk to them the higher the reserves. Your lawyer wants to make sure those reserves are set as high as possible so it is easier for him to negotiate your claim for a higher amount of money at the end of your treatment.
Also, during this time, your lawyer or his paralegal is calling you every few weeks to see how you are doing and to check in on your progress. Your lawyer is not only there to maximize your payout, he and his team are also there to give you emotional support along the way.
Going through the claim process and getting treatment can be really hard on your life. Your lawyer should be there to support you, so you feel supported each step of the way.
Your lawyer is also talking to your health care providers to understand their course of treatment and what they are looking to do. He wants to get an understanding of your prognosis and your recovery time. All these factors go into how much the insurance company is going to pay you at the end of the claim.
Your lawyer will also be talking with the insurance adjuster to try and get the limits of the policy. The policy limits are the maximum amount of money that will be available on your claim (in most cases). Insurance companies don’t like to divulge this information if policy limits are high, but as you get more and more treatment, the lawyer should be able to get some sense about what these limits are and guide your treatment (which is expensive) accordingly.
Finally, your lawyer should be paying for all the treatment along the way. This means you won’t have to come out of pocket for any expenses related to your case. Which is great because you get top notch treatment to get better. He gets paid back this money at the end of the claim, and it is not unusual for a lawyer to spend upwards of ten thousand dollars or more on your case alone.
Finally, after you are done with all your treatment your lawyer will talk with you about what he thinks your settlement value of your case is worth. Many factors come into play including recent jury verdicts in the court where your case will be if he files a lawsuit, your injury, your special damages particular to your case like medical bills, lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
With all this information he and his team draft what is known as a settlement demand letter. This letter summarizes everything about your case and presents an amount of money that you are willing to settle for. This number is often very high (higher than what you will end up with) because your lawyer knows that they will negotiate this number down.
So, you start high and end at a price you are not willing to go below.
After a settlement is reached, your lawyer will arrange for the payment of all outstanding medical bills and provide you with a disbursement statement that will show you how much you are owed, how much was paid to providers and how much his attorney fee is (somewhere between 30% – 40% of your gross recovery (the total settlement before costs are taken out)).
Those are all the basic steps your auto accident lawyer undertakes to make sure your claim is handled appropriately. In the end, you should feel more healed and with some money in your pocket to help you live your life as fully as possible.