Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Auto Injury Claims: What A Client Can Expect

Legal BlogA good way to improve client relations in auto personal injury cases is by using an informational handout explaining to clients what they might expect to happen in their case.

Such a handout will foster communication and understanding.

Your handout should be tailored to your specific practice and client needs. The North Carolina Bar Association offers a “This is The Law” brochure on “What to Do Following an Auto Accident.” Following are some suggestions on what might be included in your own Auto/PI handout.

Please note: this article is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law, nor a statement or implication of the standard of attorney care. North Carolina laws change frequently and could affect the information herein.

1. No Two Cases Are Alike

Every case is different. Each case presents unique facts. Applied to one set of facts, the law might dictate one result. Applied to other facts, the same rule of law might lead to an entirely different outcome.

For this and other reasons, it is impossible to place an accurate dollar value on your claim at the outset.

Our job is to carefully review your case. This begins by collecting the relevant facts. Next we will analyze the current status of the law as it applies to these facts. This should give us some indication of the value range, if any, of your case. We will interview you, perhaps more than once. Please make sure to tell us everything you want us to know.

Case evaluation is a process. We make no promises regarding an outcome. We will instead offer our opinion only.

It is our obligation to keep you fully apprised of what is going on in your case. Please understand that the law usually moves slowly and deliberately. Results do not happen overnight. There might well be lulls and quiet stretches in your case. Be patient. Feel free to call us at any time with questions about the status of your case.

2. Confidentiality

Everything you tell us – and all documents and information you share with us – will be kept strictly confidential. Thus, you can be completely candid and open in your communication with us.

3. Treatment Stage

This will likely be the first “stage” in your case. In this stage, you are undergoing remedial medical treatment. Be sure to follow the advice of your doctor. Your case cannot be settled until you have been evaluated, treated and released from medical care, or until you have reached maximum medical improvement.

  • Keep all doctor, dentist and medical appointments.
  • Keep all medical bills and receipts.
  • Maintain a diary or journal. At some point in the future, you might be called upon to explain your pain, suffering, treatment and lost wages. It will help to have a detailed record of these facts. Make a note of the date and details of important events. Make sure everything you enter is accurate and helpful to your case. Make sure we know about your diary and are able to periodically review it. If your case goes to litigation the other side might be able to review it.
  • Keep a record of all trips back and forth to the doctor, including mileage and travel expenses.
  • Maintain an accurate record of all time lost from work as a result of your injuries. Ask your doctor for a written excuse from work when you are out. Make sure we have your work information, including contact with your human resources office.
  • Take pictures of injuries and keep a record of all property damage.
  • Make a list of possible witnesses, including contact information.

4. Notification Stage

During your treatment, we will likely write the other party responsible for your injury and notify them that we represent you. We will request that the opposing party report this matter to their liability insurance carrier. We will notify your medical providers. We might make other official notifications as well.

5. Demand Stage

Once you have finished your medical treatment and have been released by your doctors, we will compile your records, bills, prescriptions, lost wages and other pertinent information. We will make a list of damages resulting from your injuries. Damages might include such items as pain, suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.

Sometimes we might need an evaluation from an independent doctor concerning your injuries.

We might come up with a monetary demand for compensation. You will of course be included in all such communications.

6. Negotiation Stage

At some point, both sides will discuss compensation. This might take some time.

7. Settlement Stage

The vast majority of claims are resolved in the settlement stage. If the case does not settle we will then likely discuss the possibility of filing a lawsuit. You have the authority to approve or disapprove of any proposed settlement. This is your case.

8. Alternatives to Trial

You might be asked (or even required) to consider alternatives to filing a lawsuit. These might include mediation, arbitration or other dispute resolution techniques.

9. Questions?

Please let us know. Our job is to serve you. The optimal case outcome will occur only if we are all working together and reading from the same page. Communication is key. We will strive to do our best for you. Please let us know how we can serve you.

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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