General Outline of What to Expect
You will be assigned a lawyer and a legal assistant to your case. Your legal assistant will process all paper work and is available to answer most of your general questions. Many of our legal assistants have broad claims management experience in dealing with major insurance companies and other law firms. Our Legal Assistants are under the supervision of a lawyer and all lawyers are under the supervision of Attorney James M. Shaw. Under most circumstances you will receive a Legal Assistant on the very day you sign a contract with our law firm. Your Legal Assistant is always your first contact to inquire about the progress of your case. In the event the Legal Assistant does not have an answer, or if the answer requires legal advice, the Legal Assistant will consult with the lawyer assigned to your case for a prompt answer. As always, you may speak directly to the lawyer assigned to your case if your questions cannot be answered directly your Legal Assistant or Mr. Shaw.
- We can provide assistance notifying or schedulingMedical Providers when clients need help finding expert and competent treatment. You may want to use a family doctor you are familiar with or another doctor you know and trust. In those instances where one does not have a family doctor, or does not know a specialist, we will, upon request, provide a list of doctors and specialists that come with high recommendations. Keep in mind all decisions about your medical care, including which doctors and/or hospitals to use, are solely your discretion. We are not medical professionals and cannot give you medical advice about treatment. We will attempt to assist you in locating medical providers only upon your request.
- We will send out all appropriate Notices for documents needed to begin the claims process. We identify the responsible party’s insurance carrier and determine any additional coverage(s) (such as Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured and Underinsured Coverage) that may assist you in protecting your rights.
- Investigative personnel will begin gathering evidence for your case by obtaining the police report, and by taking pictures of your vehicle and/or obtaining pertinent witness statements to build a solid foundation for future negotiations and/or other legal actions.
- Your file is professionally kept, updated and maintained to assure that your medical records and complete documentation are in order. You will need to provide us with copies of ALL your accident-related bills and receipts and which medical providers treated you for this accident.
- Loss of Earnings: This may become an additional claim. Employer reports which confirm pay rates, job descriptions, and time lost are needed for any time you have missed work. You are responsible to keep track of any time your doctor determines you are unable to work. This includes keeping detailed records of the exact days and hours you are unable to work. These documents will help support your case during the settlement negotiations period.
- Settlement Negotiations will most likely start after you are released from all accident related medical care and your settlement brochure has been delivered to the responsible insurance company(s). Insurance companies move slowly to negotiate an acceptable settlement to all. This will require much patience on your part. Usually, negotiations last 60 to 70 days after you complete your medical care.
- Disbursement or release of the settlement funds will be made following your written acceptance of the settlement of your claim. This normally takes 15 days due to procedures that must be followed, e.g.: required signatures and your final release papers must be sent to the insurance company(s). Once again, we respectfully ask for your patience and understanding while we work to get you taken care of.
- On occasion, Mediation and/or Litigation is required when an acceptable settlement cannot be reached. If this becomes necessary for your case we will fully explain the mediation and/or litigation processes to you. If a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, we will advise you on filing a lawsuit. We will sue under your permission only. Keep in mind, a settlement is always possible and is often reached just before trial. A petition would be filed to begin the suit, and delivered to the other party as notification of the suit resulting from the accident. You will now be addressed as the plaintiff and the other party as the defendant. The defendant’s insurance company will have an attorney respond to our suit by filing an answer. The discovery process will begin where both sides obtain information about the suit. During the discovery process you may be required to give a deposition, testifying under oath while the attorneys and a court reporter that records your statements are present. Instead, the attorneys may submit interrogatories or written questions to be answered in writing by the opposing party within a specified number of days. The attorneys for both sides may use various other techniques to find out all the facts. If your case is determined to be a candidate for litigation, we will provide you with additional information which will answer most of your questions and concerns. As the case fully develops through the discovery of facts it will bring about the possibility of settlement once again. In reality, the majority of all cases are not tried, but settled just before the trial date. However, if your case cannot reach a fair settlement, we will proceed to trial. It may take a year or more before your case is heard before a judge and jury, due to the backlog of pending court cases. It is extremely important for you to exercise patience if litigation is necessary. In some cases we can request mediation between you and the at-fault insurance company. Mediation is a procedure where both the plaintiff and defendant agree to meet with an independent mediator for assistance in settling the case. This focused and time consuming process can take a full day to present to a mediator for a recommendation. It is important to remember that the mediator’s decision is only a recommendation and is not binding on either party. Many times it is just what a troubled case needs to get resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. Oftentimes, the court will order mediation for a case already in litigation. Otherwise mediation is an option that can be pursued by agreement of the parties. We will advise you if your case is a good candidate for mediation.
Confidential Client Information Form: At your initial conference with us, you gave us general information about your case. On this website there is a Confidential Client Information Form, which we ask you to complete and e-mail to us. It may seem like unnecessary probing into your background. This information is kept in strictest confidence, but the opposing counsel will inquire fully into these matters. By giving us this information in advance, you can help us forestall many problems that may arise from the omission of this information. Keep in mind, all auto insurance companies have an index system on a nationwide basis showing the names of all persons who have made personal injury claims. One of the worst things a client can do is to deny a past injury, claim, or medical condition, only to be proven contrary. We therefore stress that you give complete and detailed answers to all of the questions. If you are unsure how to answer a question, please explain your uncertainty in your answer.