Auto Accident Claims And Lawsuits
Most motor vehicle accident claims — especially those involving injuries — include complexities that are not obvious to the average person, and these issues can significantly affect the value of a legal claim.
Since an initial case consultation and evaluation of your personal injury claim by The Skolnick Weiser Law Firm, LLC, is free of charge; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by having us review your claim. Even if we are unable to take your case, we may be able to provide you with valuable tips for resolving your claim yourself, or even refer you to a different attorney who can offer additional help.
Our lawyers have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients.
- At-scene investigation
- Insurance company investigation
- Attorney investigation
The Insurance Claim
- Contacting and cooperating with your own insurance company
- Contacting the negligent person’s insurance company
- The settlement demand
- When, why and where to file a lawsuit
- Court rules and requirements
A personal injury case usually begins as a claim brought against the negligent parties’ insurance coverage (or if none is available, against the injured party’s uninsured motorist coverage), or against the internal claims-handling offices of self-insured governmental or corporate entities. The resolution of a personal injury case, even at this early claims stage, is often a complex and legally complicated process, and includes:
- Determining who specifically may assert the claim.
- Determining the nature, proof and legal valuation of an injury.
- Preparing and filing all necessary paperwork to establish the claim.
- Protecting against the expiration of a claim due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
- Collecting and presenting evidence of the negligent party’s responsibility.
- Presenting and negotiating formal settlement demands.
- Preparing and filing a formal lawsuit, if necessary, to preserve the injured party’s legal rights.
If it becomes necessary for a formal lawsuit to be filed, then the personal injury case may also come to require:
- Preparing and filing with the appropriate court all documents required by local and state rules.
- Establishing a strategy for exchanging evidence through the process of Discovery.
- Participating in mediation or court-ordered arbitration.
- Negotiating with insurance adjusters and defense attorneys for fair settlement of the lawsuit.
- If necessary, preparing for and conducting a trial of the injured person’s claim.
- Securing payment of any negotiated settlement, binding award, or jury verdict.
The People/Parties Involved In A Personal Injury Claim
The parties: The “parties” to the case include the persons who were injured and therefore have the right to bring a personal injury claim, as well as any of the injured person’s relatives who, through being affected by the injuries sustained by the initial claimant, may also have a right to bring a claim. Prior to the filing of a lawsuit, these people are referred to as the “claimants,” who then become “plaintiffs” when and if a lawsuit is filed in court. On the other side are the persons who directly caused the injuries, and sometimes the people/corporations/governments who employed the persons who caused the injuries, having owned the vehicles that caused injury, or who owned or controlled the property where the injuries occurred. These persons are generally referred to as the “insureds” in an insurance claim — that is, they are the people and entities against whose insurance policies the claim is being submitted. If a lawsuit is filed in court, these parties will become the “defendants.” An important task for the personal injury attorney is determining all the potential parties in a case. If any claimant is left out, then his/her rights to recover may be permanently lost. If a defendant is left out, then a potential source of settlement funds may be overlooked. This is where thoroughness can directly affect the outcome of the case.
The adjusters and attorneys: As soon as an accident-based injury is reported to an insurance company, an “adjuster” (also called a “claims adjuster”) will be assigned to handle the claim. The adjuster is usually (but not always) a direct employee of the insurance company. If more than one insurance company is involved in a single incident, then each and every insurance company will have at least one adjuster assigned to the matter. An injured person should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney regarding any claims they may have the right to make, and if the attorney is formally retained, he/she then becomes the legal representative of the claimant(s). If it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit in court and the defendants are served with the legal papers, then they or their insurance company will arrange to hire a defense attorney (also known as an “insurance defense attorney”) to represent them.
The legal team: No attorney is an island, no attorney can handle every aspect of a client’s case, and no attorney is an expert in everything. That’s why a good legal team will frequently include private investigators to search out witnesses and physical facts, paralegals to handle the day-to-day paperwork and legal details in a case, and consultants and experts to sort out complicated medical, engineering, and economic information. Since every claim is unique, the specific members of the legal team who are needed will vary from case to case. Selecting those team members who will best serve a particular client’s interests is a primary duty of the personal injury attorney.