What Happens in a Personal Injury Case Once You’ve Completed Your Medical Treatment?
This is part two of a series of blogs that will discuss what a client can expect during various stages of a personal injury case. This post addresses what happens after completing medical care.
The first installment in this series, What Happens in a Personal Injury Case After You’ve Hired a PI Lawyer, looks at the initial steps both you and your attorney take in the first phase of the case. But what happens after you’ve completed medical care?
Personal Injury Cases: Communication is Critical
First, you need to make sure you continue with medical care and therapy until you and your doctors believe you are either fully recovered, or that there is no further treatment that could help you. If you and your doctors disagree regarding this issue, make sure you let us know so we can give you the proper legal advice in that situation.
Once you are discharged from further care, tell us. We will begin collecting all of your medical records and bills so you can move forward with compensation.
If you’ve sustained basic injuries and merely have chiropractic treatment, this can be a quick process. If your care has been more complicated and you have treatment with multiple medical providers, it’s a more time-consuming process. Many hospitals and doctor’s offices will require us to send a professional copy service to obtain your records. This extends the time and cost of obtaining your records.
As we’re gathering records, we always tell clients to ease back into their pre-accident lifestyle to see how their injuries react to regular, daily activities.
Many times, once treatment is done and clients are active again, injuries can flare up and we realize further treatment is needed. This is why we wait at least a month or so and check in with the client again and make sure they are still feeling well and have not had any recurring problems.
Once your recovery is certain, we will review your records and send a demand package to the insurance company asking for a certain amount to settle your case.
You should know that the type of demand package varies with the quality of your attorney. Less competent attorneys – those just looking for a quick settlement (generally not a good idea, watch the video below to find out why) without doing much work – will generally send the records with a list of the bills and nothing else.
Our office prefers to send a detailed demand – summarizing the facts of the accident, the injuries you sustained, the care received, and how your life was affected – because we need to convince the insurance adjuster to adequately compensate you for all damages. Sending a list of the bills with no details is not very convincing, and does not show the insurance company that we are serious about obtaining maximum restitution for you.
Depending on the type of case and the insurance company, it can take an adjuster several weeks to a couple of months to respond to the demand package.
The insurance company will most likely make its first offer to settle at this point. We will negotiate back and forth, which could take another several weeks or months. Again, this depends on the size of your injury case and whether the adjuster needs to obtain approval from his/her supervisors for certain offers.
If all goes well, we will reach a settlement. If, however, the insurance company does not offer what you and we think the case is worth, then you will have a decision to make.
If we believe the insurance company has not offered fair settlement value, and we think we can obtain more through litigation, we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit and pursue the matter through trial, if that is what’s best for the case.
Injury Settlements vs. Litigation
There are many attorneys, however, who will NEVER file a lawsuit and litigate. They are either looking for a quick settlement because they do not want to work any harder than they have to — or they are just not competent to litigate a case.
This type of attorney will usually try to convince you to accept a settlement, even though you both know it’s not a fair offer. S/He may also require you to pay costs if you decide to move forward. If this happens, it’s time to find a new attorney.
Our firm does not increase fees if we file a lawsuit. We ensure that a decision to litigate or not, is always made in the best interests of you the client, and not based on costs in either time or money for us.
Serious Injury Cases
Unfortunately, there are times when a client is not discharged from medical treatment for many years, if ever at all. If this is the case, many times it will be apparent from the start and we will file a lawsuit early on.
Many cases settle or go to trial with the client still receiving care due to the significant injuries sustained. Your medical providers, usually including Life Care Planners, will lay out your need for future care. Your attorney will incorporate this future care and costs into any settlement negotiations with the insurance company.
We’ll look at what happens in your case after a lawsuit is filed, in the next installment in this series of blogs.