What Happens in a Personal Injury Case After You’ve Hired a PI Lawyer?
This post is the first in a series of blogs in which we will outline what a client can expect during the various stages of a personal injury claim.
You’ve suffered a serious injury. You’ve found an accident attorney – what happens next?
I’ve previously written about how to hire a personal injury attorney, and what to do immediately after an accident. Many times, though, I’ve found that clients really do not know what to expect after they do engage an attorney.
This is part of a series of blogs that will discuss what you can expect during various stages of a personal injury case – this one addresses the legal process of a personal injury claim right after hiring an attorney.
What Does a PI Attorney Do, Once Hired?
Every case will not be the same. What happens immediately after hiring an attorney largely depends on the type of case, when you hire an attorney, and how severe your injuries from the accident are. For this blog, let’s assume you’ve already engaged a lawyer after an auto accident and that you have sustained moderate injuries.
The first thing an attorney usually does is send out representation letters to everyone involved to let them know you have legal counsel. This is very important, especially if the other driver’s insurance company has already contacted you. If the other insurer hasn’t yet, we can prevent them from doing so with this type of letter.
Once an insurance company receives a representation letter, they can no longer contact you. An attorney will provide the insurance company with basic information about you and about the case. (Watch this video regarding providing recorded statements to insurers.)
These initial contacts with the insurance company will help set the tone for the case. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, investigator or anyone after hiring an attorney, you need to get the person’s name, and immediately inform your attorney. You should never give the person any information, other than your attorney’s name and phone number.
Representation letters will also be sent to any medical providers involved, letting them know that they will need to send your attorney a full set of medical records and bills once treatment is finished.
Accident Investigation & Property Damage
Next, an attorney will investigate the accident, if necessary. This includes contacting witnesses to obtain statements and taking photographs of the scene of the accident. This sometimes includes utilizing an investigator and other experts.
If the property damage to your vehicle has not been finalized by this time, your attorney will also assist in this area if need be. Usually, property damage is resolved fairly easily if there is enough insurance. If you pursue a diminished value claim, this will take longer and will be much more involved.
Recovery: The Client’s Job
While your attorney is doing what I’ve described above, you have one job: Get the appropriate medical care and get better. Follow your doctor’s advice and keep your appointments. Your medical records are the evidence your attorney needs to prove your injuries. If the records are full of missed or canceled appointments, it will look like you are not seriously injured.
On the other hand, you also have to be careful not to over treat. If you are receiving chiropractic care, you should not also be receiving physical therapy and/or acupuncture on the same parts of your body at the same time. If there is a viable reason for you to have these multiple providers, then make sure each provider is aware of the others.
For more details on getting to the right doctors, see my previous blog, Personal Injury Accident Care: Getting the Appropriate Treatment.
Once you are healed or your injuries have reached a plateau, your attorney can begin negotiating your case. We’ll look at what happens in the negotiation phase in the next part of this series.
Read the next installment of this series: What Happens in a Personal Injury Case Once You’ve Completed Your Medical Treatment?