We begin out work with by an interview. Most often the interview takes place at our office, but we have often visited with clients both in the hospital and at their home. The interview is important – you can determine if you would like to work with me, and you learn what may happen between now and the time your injuries resolve.
During the interview the details of the accident are discussed. It is important to understand whether there is clear liability. In other words, the other driver is absolutely at fault, and you did not contribute to the accident. This is critical because if you contributed slightly to the accident you can not recover damages at trial.
We make certain that you are aware of the insurance benefits available to you and help you access them. You may have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. This is a flat allowance that reimburses you for medical expenses and lost wages. There is usually either $2500, $5000 or $10,000 available. Other benefits may include car rental and collision.
It is important that your insurance carrier be contacted and that a case number be assigned. Your carrier will assign an adjuster to your case. This adjuster is the point of contact between you and the insurance company. Similarly, the other driver’s insurance carrier will also assign a case number to your claim. That adjuster may also telephone you. The best policy is to not speak to the adjusters. Adjusters are often more often your adversary. The goal of the adjuster is to pay out as little as possible. Of course, your goal is to get “just” compensation. These goals are usually at odds.
It is simply not advisable to speak to the other adjuster.
We first contact the insurance companies – in writing. We advise the insurers that we represent you and ask that all further communications take place through our office. This protects the record. Adjusters often record conversations. Very simple things can be twisted and used against you to reduce the value of your claim, or to increase risk at trial.
We ask that your doctors, the hospital and other medical care providers send us your medical records and bills. We follow your progress until your doctor releases you from care. Once you are released from care we start the demand and negotiation process. If your injury is permanent, the extent of the impairment is addressed. We review your file with you, investigate similar claims and the settlement or jury verdicts, and discuss with you the approach that we will take. The negotiation process does not start until you have reached maximum medical improvement.
After you have reached maximum medical improvement, then you we are ready to begin the negotiation process. We discuss what a good settlement would be, what risks trial may present, and what our negotiation strategy will be. You participate in the process every step of the way. After we have established the settlement and mediation goals, we construct a demand package and send it to the insurer.
The amount of time this process takes depends on the severity of your injury, the length of the treatment that you need, and the seriousness of your injuries. The insurance company assesses the demand package. The adjuster is then authorized to offer a specified amount in settlement. After the adjuster is authorized, the negotiation begins. If we are able to reach an agreement, then the claim settles. If we are unable to reach an agreement, then we prepare for trial.
You do not pay attorney fees. If we do not obtain a settlement or judgment for you, then we do not get paid. Our compensation for these services 1/3 of the moneys recovered. The out-of-pocket costs to you are the cost of medical records, filing fees, expert witness fees and the like.
A retainer agreement is provided for your review. If the terms are acceptable, then you sign the agreement and return it to us. It is at this point that our representation of you begins.
To learn more, contact our personal injury attorneys for a free initial consultation by calling our office in Maryland at 301-515-1190.