The following will provide you with a sample timeline for a typical personal injury case. The events are listed in the order they usually occur. Every case is unique, but we created this timeline to help our clients visualize their case and understand the steps involved, leading up to resolution of the case. “How long” it will take depends on many factors too difficult to predict.
1. Accident occurs.
2. Client receives treatment of some kind (ambulance, hospital, doctors, etc)
3. Client may have spoken with insurance companies regarding accident (we generally advise against talking with the opposing insurance company).
4. Client provides lawyer with items from the “Personal Injury Checklist”.
5. Client meets with and hires attorney.
6. Attorney communicates with insurance company and adjusters, advising them of representation of injured client. Attorney keeps adjusters informed.
7. Attorney evaluates all available resources for payment and recovery.
8. Attorney makes sure all important documents are gathered.
9. Attorney hires investigators if needed.
10. Client works with insurance company to fix property damage, rent car etc. Attorney assists client with this process if necessary.
11. Client documents any lost earnings (if any) and seeks verification from his/her employer regarding lost earnings. Attorney can assist if client gives attorney contact person who is willing to communicate with lawyer’s office. Lost earnings claims should only be made if it's a "slam dunk" - speculation regarding lost earnings often leads down an endless rabbit hole!
12. Client continues treating with medical providers until discharged by the doctor(s). During this time, further specialists may be required, physical therapy, MRI tests, etc. Client continues treating until client reaches pre-accident status or otherwise reaches a plateau where no further treatment will benefit client. In some cases, surgical intervention is necessary.
13. Once client completes health care regimen, attorney collects any and all outstanding bills, reports, etc. Attorney may discuss matter with client’s doctors.
14. Attorney ascertains if there are any liens by any insurance company (health insurance, auto insurance, Medi-Cal, MediCare, etc). Attorney opens claims with any lien-holders and work with assigned adjuster from each company.
15. Attorney prepares “Demand Package” to present to responsible party’s insurance company. This package typically contains a demand letter, photos, medical records, billing, lost earnings documentation, etc.
16. Insurance company usually takes about 30 to 45 days to respond to demand.
17. Attorney communicates offer from insurance company to client.
18. Client accepts or rejects offer.
19. If rejected, attorney continues negotiating settlement on behalf of client.
20. Attorney negotiates with all parties asserting a lien on the case (doctors, insurance companies, etc.) in an effort to increase client’s net recovery.
21. Client either accepts or rejects insurance company’s final offer.
22. If accepted, insurance company sends release for lawyer to review and client to sign. Insurance company then sends check for lawyer and client to sign. This check is deposited into attorney’s Client Trust Account. Checks written, (doctors, lien holders, client), from this account.
23. If unable to settle the claim, attorney will discuss options with client, including filing a lawsuit and all the ramifications of doing so.
Hopefully this blog entry will give you some idea of the "usual" and "customary" steps of a personal injury matter. Some cases can differ for one reason or another, but hopefully this will give you a good understanding. Call my office at (661) 414-7100 if I can help you with your personal injury case.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,