PI Law Firm

WHAT TO EXPECT

Though each case is unique, the following information will give you a general idea of the steps that are likely to occur in your personal injury case:

Intake and Assessment

At our free initial consultation, our attorneys will discuss with you the details of how your injury occurred. We will explore the issues of both liability (who was at fault, and why) as well as damages (the nature and magnitude of your injury and losses). We will determine when your claim arose in order to be aware of certain time deadlines (known as the "statute of limitations").

After the initial consultation, we will gather extensive additional information including the names and addresses of all medical providers, a copy of your own automobile insurance policy (in vehicle accident cases) and information relevant to your employment and any lost wages. If the police were involved on the date of your injury, we will promptly request a copy of the Police Accident Report directly from the police.


Initial Insurance Contact

Upon undertaking a case, we immediately notify the at-fault party's insurance carrier that we are representing you and that all communications should be directed to us, not you. You no longer have to worry about whether an insurance adjustor representing the other side will attempt to take advantage of you. When appropriate, we also promptly notify your own insurance carrier of the possibility of a claim for uninsured/under-insured benefits, when it appears that the at-fault party may not have sufficient insurance to adequately compensate your losses.


Medical Treatment and Follow-Up Investigation

Once insurance companies have been notified and we have complied with any legal time deadlines, we recommend that our clients take any and all time necessary to finish treating for their injuries. This is critical, because ultimately you only get one settlement (or verdict) for your injuries and losses. If you make the mistake of settling early, it does not matter if you later discover that your injuries are more serious than you previously thought. We are willing to wait the time necessary to be confident that you have reached maximum medical improvement and that we are fully aware of the extent of your losses before proceeding to conclude your case.

During this time, our firm will undertake whatever additional investigation of your case may be necessary, including but not limited to accident reconstruction, locating and interviewing witnesses, and obtaining appropriate photographs including scarring and disfigurement. We will ask you to keep a written log of how the injury affects your daily living known as a “personal impact statement”. This will later assist us in providing the insurance company with the most detailed and accurate depiction of your pain, suffering and inconvenience, all of which entitle you to receive compensation.


Obtaining Records

As you finish each aspect of your medical treatment, we will obtain copies of your medical bills and records, including diagnostic tests, charts and file notes. When appropriate, we will ask one or more of your physicians to provide us with a narrative report detailing your injury, treatment and prognosis, and specifically relating your symptoms to your accident. We will obtain verification of wage loss from your employer, and we will also obtain records of any expenses paid on your behalf from other sources such as Medicare, health insurance and/or disability insurance.


Evaluation

When you have finished treating and we have obtained all relevant records, we will discuss with you a financial evaluation of your case before submitting a demand to the insurance company. There is no written formula specifying what any injury is worth; rather, using our many years of experience, we evaluate the fair value of your case based on the nature and severity of your injuries, your out-of-pocket losses, scarring and disfigurement, and any permanent disability you have suffered.


Financial Settlement/Trial

Upon receiving your approval of our evaluation of your case, we will submit a written demand package (including copies of all relevant records) together with a financial settlement demand to the insurance company. Usually within 60 days, the insurance company will respond to us with a settlement offer based on their evaluation. Typically, though not always, we then engage in several follow-up exchanges of counter-offers. In a great majority of cases, this negotiation process leads to a successful recovery of appropriate compensation for your injuries without the need to go to Court.

In those cases where an insurance company is not willing to offer what we and our client firmly believe to be a fair settlement amount, we will proceed with litigation. This may take several forms, including the possibility of mediation (both sides meeting with a neutral mediator in an attempt to reach an agreed resolution), arbitration (each side presenting their case to a neutral panel of 1 to 3 experienced arbitrators for a binding decision) or proceeding to a trial in Court before a Judge or jury.


Concluding the Case

In the majority of cases where we successfully conclude a settlement, we will facilitate your signing a Release (giving up all future rights to make a claim for the same injury) in exchange for payment of the settlement amount. We always carefully review Releases for accuracy and appropriate content. We will receive the initial settlement check on your behalf, have you sign it, and deposit it into our Client Trust Account at the bank. From the deposited funds we will pay our fee and costs, make any required reimbursements such as to Medicare or health insurance companies for recoverable expenses paid on your behalf (known as a "subrogation" claim) and then distribute the net proceeds to you together with a full written itemization of all disbursements. Generally, amounts recovered in a personal injury case are not subject to income tax, but we always advise our clients to check with their accountant for appropriate tax guidance in each case.

It is impossible to determine in advance the exact length of time any particular case will require to successfully resolve. Generally, a majority of cases are concluded within approximately 6 to 12 months. Occasionally some cases will conclude in less than 6 months, and on the other hand, cases wherein we are required to proceed with litigation will often exceed one year. We always attempt to conclude each case as expeditiously as possible, but we will never compromise the value of a case just to reach a faster resolution.

We, the attorneys and staff at Gardner & Stevens, look forward to working closely with you and your family to bring a full, fair and successful conclusion to your personal injury case. We are honored to have earned your trust.



The information in our website is by necessity general information. It is not intended to take the place of specific legal advice about your personal case. Until we have met with you and have agreed in writing to assume representation, no attorney-client relationship has been created. Please contact our office to meet with an attorney to review the details of your specific case.