By Douglas Parker • June 04, 2020•Features, Guest Bloggers and Profiles of Women in the Law
Personal injury cases can be extra challenging and usually take time to complete. Every case is unique and has different facts and nuances. Hence it's crucial to streamline your process to effectively handle your cases.
Accordingly, aside from good record keeping skills, you should build a system to better handle your cases from start to finish. As a personal injury attorney, your organizational skills can dictate your case whether your client will receive a full compensation or an unfair settlement.
Here are some invaluable tips for organizing personal injury cases.
Preparing the Client for the First Meeting
To be efficient, you need to set expectations and prepare your client beforehand. Before your first meeting, it's best to advise them to bring the necessary documents and or evidence related to their claim. These could be police reports, medical records, bills, notes, photographs, insurance details, and other relevant documents.
Doing so will make it easier for you to organize the documents and file the injury claim in court on time. Ensuring these documents or evidence is necessary so you'll have better chances of winning the case.
Sign Retainer Agreement, Personal Injury Questionnaire, and Authorizations
Your first meeting with your client is the best avenue to establish rapport, explain the process, obtain necessary information, and set expectations. Afterward, you'll need to discuss and have your client sign a Retainer Agreement to officially start your lawyer-client relationship. It should detail how your professional fees are charged. Moreover, the agreement should indicate the extent of obligations and expectations between you and your client.
Likewise, key questions need to be answered in the personal injury questionnaire. Such as personal and employment background, nature of injuries, medical treatment, lost wages, and other information necessary to be attached in the complaint. And, if applicable, request your client to draw a diagram for your better understanding of their claim. This will help you to make a clear and comprehensive demand letter against the other party.
Further, when filing a personal injury claim, your client needs to give you a special permission slip, such as an insurance authorization and HIPAA-compliant authorization. This way, you can easily access important documents such as medical records, insurance information, or opinions of expert witnesses to support the case.
Get Insurance Cards Copies
Documentation is critical in personal injury claims. So getting the right copy of auto or health insurance cards is necessary especially if the personal injury case reaches discovery. It can also help settle some issues on the client's insurance coverage or medical bills when processing a reimbursement.
Explaining the Process and their Responsibilities
You are under obligation to explain to your client the stages of personal injury claims. This includes compensation for personal injury, negotiation of a fair settlement, in-depth investigation to receive the right compensation, and keeping them informed of the case status.
Moreover, you should advise your client to refrain from signing documents without your guidance. You can give your recommendation also for your client to seek medical treatment for an injury suffered to be supported by medical records. You should also clearly discuss the concept of liens.
Representation to 3rd Party Insurer
Send a letter of representation to your client's insurer together with a signed authorization. Require the insurer to convey all correspondence and communication to your office instead of your client. Moreover, the representation should consist of the policy number, claim number, name of your client, and the date of the incident and future communications.
Witnesses play an important role in a personal injury case. They are persons with knowledge or can provide details about the incident. So you should contact them immediately for their statements. But ensure that their testimonies are in line with your legal position.
Present All Outstanding Balances to Health Insurance
When your client uses their medical payment coverage or health insurance, it’s their insurer that pays the medical bills. However, it's important to check that their medical providers correctly billed them before submitting their claim to the insurer. This will make it easier to negotiate with your client's insurer in terms of reimbursements. It's also crucial to submit all outstanding balances to med pay or health insurance with supporting documents.
File the Complaint within the Statute of Limitations
The filing of a complaint has deadlines as prescribed in the Statute of Limitations. So it's important to have a calendar system or create a timeline to avoid missing any of these deadlines. As the deadline can take its toll on your client’s claim if you fail to file the complaint before the period ends.