The Litigation Process And You
June 28, 2017 | Personal Injury
Nearly all negligence cases, somewhere around 90 percent by most estimates, settle before trial. Unfortunately, the big insurance companies and their legislative allies have made sure that the settlement process is as long and cumbersome as possible for Personal Injury Attorneys and their clients. The hope is that injured victims will grow frustrated and either abandon their claims altogether or at least settle them for far less than they are worth. But at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our tenacious New York personal injury attorneys don’t quite easily.
Every case is different, but most all negligence cases follow a similar pattern, at least for the most part. Typically, there are three distinct phases in a personal injury cae that settles before trial. Sometimes a case may be ready to settle in only a few weeks, but victims should probably anticipate that the process may take several months at least. It’s critical to let this process play out, because if Bronx personal injury attorneys settle their clients’ cases too quickly, it will end up costing victims thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
In the first twenty-four hours after the car crash or other negligent episode, it’s important to collect evidence and start medical treatment.
Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof in court, and the more evidence that Brooklyn personal injury lawyers have at their disposal, the more effective their cases will be. Car crash cases are a good example, largely because most vehicles have Event Data Recorders. EDRs capture and store important data like:
- Brake application,
- Steering angle, and
- Vehicle speed.
The Empire State has an EDR privacy law, so Bronx personal injury attorneys must normally obtain court orders to access such devices. Moreover, absent quick action, the insurance company usually destroys a totaled vehicle in the first few days after the crash. Therefore, an NYC personal injury lawyer often sends a spoliation letter to the insurance company, creating a duty to preserve any evidence in the case, including the physical evidence inside the EDR.
Prompt medical attention is important as well, because if there is any delay, insurance company lawyers will later argue that the victim’s injuries must not have been very severe. The right kind of medical attention is important as well. For example, many victims sustain head injuries during a car crash or fall, and not all doctors are adept at recognizing and treating such injuries. Without proper attention, these injuries quickly get worse.
Many victims do not have the resources to see a doctor. That’s usually no problem, because Bronx personal injury attorneys refer their clients to specialized practitioners, often for no money upfront.
Once a New York personal injury attorney generally knows the full extent of the damages in terms of property loss, medical bills, and lost wages, a demand letter goes to the insurance company lawyer. Rules vary by jurisdiction, but generally, an insurance company has between thirty and sixty days to make an initial settlement response.
There are laws prohibiting unreasonable “low ball” counteroffers, but the first counteroffer is usually not too far above this line. That is because the lawyer knows that the victim has a stack of unpaid bills and little or no income with which to pay them.
Bronx personal injury attorneys try to expedite the process as much as possible, because attorneys who work on a contingent fee basis are as anxious to settle cases as their clients.
If the victim and insurance company are far apart on either liability issues or financial terms, as is normally the case, informal or formal mediation usually precedes final settlement.
Informal mediation often does not even take place face-to-face. Instead, the insurance company lawyers and NYC personal injury lawyers trade settlement offers via letter or over the phone until they reach an accord. As something of a last resort before trial, neutral professionals facilitate formal mediation, which usually take place in office settings.
A fast and fair settlement for maximum compensation is in the best interests of both client and lawyer. For a free consultation with an experienced Bronx personal injury attorney, contact Napoli Shklonik PLLC. We have area offices in Midtown Manhattan and on Long Island.
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