What happens after you hire an attorney for a personal injury case?
- You go to an attorney, or they send an attorney to you.
- You sign some legal documents. (If the attorney asks for any money up front, then don’t hire them)
- Now you hope they get you the money you deserve based on your injury.
What happens next?
Well, it depends on the attorney. How many cases are they actively working? Will yours produce a significant settlement?
If it’s an auto accident, the first thing they should get is the accident report, but that doesn’t show the entire picture. The accident report is generated after the accident occurred. Therefore, the attorney only gets a report with both drivers blaming the other for the accident. Any photos taken are those after the cars are at rest.
What should happen next?
To make sure the attorney has all the facts of the accident, it is important that a Private Investigator get involved. Why? A Private Investigator will canvass the area of the accident to determine if there are any cameras which may have captured the accident. The Private Investigator will locate any *witnesses noted in the accident report but will also canvass the area for any that may have seen the accident, but the officer didn’t talk to. A Private Investigator will secure footage of the area and still photos to understand traffic flow and any other conditions which may have contributed to the accident. Any report provided by the Private Investigator is acceptable in any litigation brought by the attorney. However, most attorneys would hope to settle with the insurance company before filing litigation.
A Private Investigator can also assist in obtaining accident reports and insurance information if it was not provided at the time of the accident.
In a hit and run case, the Private Investigator can run the registration from the fleeing vehicle to determine the owner.
What if I have a slip and fall?
In a slip and fall, many of the actions above will apply. The Private Investigator will attempt to secure any video which may have captured the incident. Will take pictures of the area and note any deficiencies which may have caused the fall.
If the slip and fall occurred within a business, the business may have cameras which captured the fall; however, do not and most likely will not turn over any video. The attorney will issue a Letter of Representation along with a Letter to Preserve the Evidence to the business.
If a slip and fall occurs on private property, most homeowners will do the right thing and report it to their insurance provider. Private property or homeowners are not required to provide any insurance information to any local or state agency. So how does the attorney get this information? The same way they get it from a business, they send a Letter of Representation and state the homeowner opens a claim with their insurance provider and that they have their insurance provider contact their office.
What if no insurance is provided?
Again, this is the job of a Private Investigator. Many times, a Private Investigator will visit the business or property owner for the information. It’s more difficult for someone to reject or dismiss a face to face. A skilled Private Investigator knows how to approach the business or property owner and obtain the needed information. A business, the Private Investigator, may not need to contact the business because they may have a database identifying the insurance provider. As for a property owner, the Private Investigator may have to use more finesse.
How much money should I get?
Several items dictate the value of your case.
- Medical cost
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent injury
Based on this information, the attorney will calculate all the above and will make a demand on the insurance company. Then the fun begins between the attorney and the insurance company. Once the attorney believes they have a valid offer, you will be notified. How long does all this take? That will depend on how long you treat and any therapy you will need to recover. So don’t expect a check anytime soon based on your injury.
The above information is provided as a reference in a personal injury matter. Accurate Information Services is not a law firm nor are any of their associates’ members of the bar. This information is based on over 30 years’ experience working with both the insurance industry and personal injury attorneys.
*Generally, in an accident report, the witness is only identified by name. A Private Investigator has access to a vast database which the attorney does not have. With only a name, the Private Investigator can locate the witness for a statement.