One of the most frequent questions our personal injury clients ask us at Petis Law is: “How does my auto accident injury case work?” People want to know what the lifetime of a case is like, how long it’s going to take, and so on. In this entry, we will highlight some of the main elements involved in a personal injury case. Consider the following:
You are driving your car when all of a sudden, you are rear-ended. You feel neck and back pain. You go to your primary care physician, who refers to you to a chiropractor and another doctor to get an MRI. Because of the results of the MRI, your medical professionals tell you to continue with therapeutic care for the next several weeks. As usual, the insurance company for the at-fault driver is giving you the run-around, so you call the accident attorneys at Petis Law.
We immediately notify the at-fault insurance company that we represent you, and that the insurance company is never to contact you from the moment of representation through the end of the case. Now you can focus on getting better, rather than worrying about what the insurance company is or is not doing. Once you have “finished” your treatment, we will begin the settlement demand process.
At Petis Law, our attorneys consider the following factors before settling your case:
- MMI: “Maximum Medical Improvement” means that no further medical improvement is expected, even if your medical providers were to give you additional treatment. MMI can mean either (a) that you have reached pre-injury status, or (b) that although you will continue to get better with time, that additional medical treatment would not benefit you any longer. We will not settle your case until your treatment is complete, that is, until you have reached MMI. Once you have reached MMI, we begin the settlement demand process.
- Settlement Demand: The settlement demand will explain your “damages” to the insurance company for the at-fault driver. Damages include things like your medical bills and lost wages (“economic damages”), your pain and suffering (“noneconomic damages”), and any physical impairment you have as a result of the collision.
The settlement demand package explains why the other party is at fault; how badly you were hurt; what you did to get better; and how much the whole ordeal cost you in terms of time, money, and other intangibles. Taking all of those things into consideration, the settlement demand package lists a certain figure or range that we use to begin the negotiations in terms of what will be considered in settling your claim.
The negotiations process can take anywhere from a month or two, depending on the number of medical providers from whom you received treatment, as well as the overall complexity of your case.
The two most common questions our clients have with this process are: (1) how long does the process take, and (2) what is my case worth? Settlement time lines and ranges depend on the insurance carrier, the insurance adjustor, the clarity of liability, and the insurance coverage limitations.
Consider the following scenarios: A person was involved in a rear-end automobile collision and had neck and back pain that required two months of chiropractic treatment. After the two months, the person’s neck and back pain completely resolved, that person missed no time from work, and no further treatment was necessary. On the other hand, suppose that the same person was rear-ended in such a fashion that surgical treatment was required. In the first case, the case should take much less time—and would have a different case value—than the second case. Accordingly, it is important to look at each case as a whole.
At Petis Law, we guarantee a 15-day response time from the insurance company. If we do not hear from the insurance company within 15 days, we will file suit to protect your rights.
In another post, we will discuss the variables involved in the litigation process
If you or someone you love has unfortunately been involved in a situation where you were hurt due to the negligence of another person, please give Petis Law a call for a free consultation.