What Goes On Before Filing a Lawsuit
The process of filing a lawsuit isn’t as simple or as quick as what is typically depicted on mainstream crime movies and T.V. shows. There are a number of things to take into consideration, particularly if you figured into an accident and what file a case against the party at fault.
On this episode of When Accidents Happen, hosts Paige Pahlke and Jim Puritz discuss the general timeframe of a case before filing a lawsuit. They talk about what is usually involved in the process, what information and documents are needed and gathered, and how long it typically takes before a demand package is sent to the other party and their insurer. For attorneys, it is vital that the demand letter is strong and comprehensive, that aims to lead to settlement rather than further litigation.
Key Moments from the Episode[00:56] – First step after a client signs up
[01:38] – When to request medical records
[02:18] – Other things included in the demand letter
[02:55] – Support for lost wages claim
[03:40] – What happens when demand letter is ready
[05:10] – The importance of putting together a strong demand letter
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When Accidents Happen is a podcast by Brown Moore and Associates, a personal injury law firm based out of Charlotte, NC. This podcast is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for consulting a personal injury attorney about your unique situation before making legal decisions. Visit our website for more online resources at (http://brownmoorelaw.com/) , or better yet, call (704) 335-1500 for a free initial intake interview so Brown Moore and Associates can evaluate your case.
|Intro:||[00:02]||Chances are you're here because of an accident involving yourself or someone you love and before the dust even settles you're dealing with an insurance company that doesn't have your best interests at heart. You may be feeling overwhelmed, you may be feeling scared, welcome to When Accidents Happen, a podcast brought to you by the attorneys of Brown Moore associates with more than five decades of experience. Our attorneys are here to guide you through these uncertain times and provide you with the information and answers you need today.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[00:38]||Hey everyone, this is Paige Pahlke and Jim Puritz and we're
back with another episode of When Accidents Happen. And today
we're going to be talking about the general timeframe of a case
before we file a lawsuit. Jim, what is the first step that we're
taking when we first sign up the client?
|Jim Puritz:||[00:56]||Sure. So when someone comes in they talk to us about what just happened to them. We don't start off with a lawsuit. We actually start off with something called a demand package or a demand letter. But before we send out a demand there's certain information we have to put together. We put together their medical records, we want to make sure that the statute of limitations isn't an issue, which is when someone has to file their suit. And we want to get our ducks in a row and that's something that we send out to the person that hit them and their insurer to see if we can settle this before starting a litigation.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[01:28]||And what if the client is treating, you said medical records, are you waiting until your client is done treating to request those medical records or when are you requesting those?|
|Jim Puritz:||[01:38]||Well, in a very lawyerly answer, it depends. If we're close to the statute of limitations, if we're running out of time to where we'd have to file the suit, then yes we're going to need those records. But if we have time, we want to make sure that the person is done treating, that we have a full picture of their damages. Because if you were to settle pre-suit or settle at anytime, that's your one bite at the apple. You don't get to go back again and say, "Oh, I'm sorry. We actually need more money for this further care." That's not an option, so we want to wait until the damage picture is clear before we send out that demand.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[02:12]||And what else is included in that demand? I know we talked about the medical records and medical treatment. What else do you include in your demands?|
|Jim Puritz:||[02:18]||Well, we also include our theory of liability, how this crash happened, how the other person didn't follow the rules of the road, ran a red light, whatever it may be, but we also put out the non economic factors on how someone's been hurt. How has this affected their life? Are they able to do the things that they love to do? Are they able to do the things with their spouses, with their children? Are they able to go to work? Did they have lost wages? All those things are a part of your damages picture and that's what we want to present to the other side.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[02:50]||And the lost wages, is there anything that you do to support that claim?|
|Jim Puritz:||[02:55]||Yeah. Oftentimes we'll go reach out to your company, speak often to an HR rep or someone who can provide a lost wage affidavit or some documentation to say, "I was out of work for this many weeks. This is what my wages..." And it's not just wages. Sometimes it's lost promotional opportunities, but you shouldn't have to suffer in your job or anywhere else from someone else's negligence. So if we can prove that you lost income and we want to put that in our demand.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[03:23]||So once you get this, so it sounds like you wait until the client is done treating and as good as they're going to get. Provided that you don't have a statute of limitations issue before you request the medical records and put together the demand package. What do you do with the demand package or the demand letter once you have it done and ready to go?|
|Jim Puritz:||[03:40]||I send it to the insurance company. It's usually an insurance company and often they assign an adjuster who looks over what you've sent them and it's a conversation. Oftentimes they get back to us and say, "We need more information. We need this many days to look it over." And hopefully they get back to us with an offer and we start negotiating whether we can settle this without starting a lawsuit.|
|Jim Puritz:||[04:02]||Unfortunately sometimes that negotiation doesn't go well but we certainly want to get that demand out there, give them a timeline of when they have to respond because we don't want this letter going unresponded to. It's unfair to you that they just leave it out there. So we want to have a timeline for them to respond and we want to start the process of trying to settle your case without starting a litigation.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[04:23]||So, it sounds like patience is an important virtue in this part of the case. And it sounds like there are different timeframes involved here. For instance, I know with my clients after they are done treating and I'm requesting medical records, generally it takes, in a good situation, 30 to 60 days to get those records in the door. Is that your experience as well?|
|Jim Puritz:||[04:45]||Unfortunately, that would be a good experience, 30 to 60 days and in patients is the right word. We would love to have all the information we need right away, but it's just not possible. And it's probably not even prudent if someone is still getting care for their injuries. So we do have to take our time, make sure everything is done correctly and it takes months oftentimes to get everything where we want it before sending out a demand.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[05:10]||And when I'm doing my demands, and I know you do the same, I really focus on putting together a strong compelling demand letter that shows the insurance company, like you said, why the defendant's responsible for this and just how this has impacted my clients. And I'm always hopeful that I can, because I know my clients, I've never met a client who is excited to go to trial. So if we can resolve it, we always do our best to do so. And our goal during the negotiation process is to get that adjuster up to the best and final offer and see if that is a number that is fair and reasonable to the client. If it's not, we take that next step and file suit.|
|Jim Puritz:||[05:45]||I absolutely agree Paige. That's one of the things that I love about our firm is the attorneys write the demand packages. We don't have support staff and we don't have paralegals do that. We take the time to do it because it's an important step and if we can resolve a case without filing suit, it would be beneficial for our clients.|
|Paige Pahlke:||[06:02]||Well Jim, thank you so much for being on today and for all the great information that you're able to share.|
|Jim Puritz:||[06:06]||Thank you for having me.|
|Outro||[06:10]||We appreciate you joining us on this episode of When Accidents Happen. To learn more about today's discussion or to tell us your story, visit our website at brownmoorelaw.com that's B-R-O-W-N-M-O-O-R-E-L-A-W.com or call (704) 335-1500. The insights and views presented in When Accidents Happen are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney, nor does tuning into this podcast constitute an attorney client relationship of any kind. If you're ready for the personal attention you deserve, contact Brown Moore and associates today.|