What Happens After I Hire an Attorney for A Motor Vehicle Accident?
Once you hire an attorney to handle your motor vehicle accident case, what happens next? The following is a simple overview to help you understand the process in its most basic form.
To begin, most clients will be treating with medical providers. This stage of the case is essential and lasts as long as the client is consistently seeing medical providers. This can last months and sometimes a year or more, it completely depends on each individual’s injuries and the care they need to heal. During this time, it is important to communicate with your attorney concerning the diagnosis, plan of treatment, and any procedures such as injections or surgery that are required.
While the client is treating, the attorney will send letters to the insurance companies to determine the insurance policy limits. They will do this for the at-fault party as well as your own personal insurance. The reason they send letters to your insurance is to put them on notice and to determine whether you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This is important if the person who hit you does not have insurance at all, or does not have enough insurance to compensate you fully.
Policy limits tell the attorney and client the total amount of money available from the at-fault party. For example, the minimum policy limit for automobile coverage in Georgia is
$25,000 /$50,000. This means that there is up to $25,000 allowed per person in an accident, but only a max of $50,000 if there is more than one person involved. This includes other people in your vehicle and other people who may be in other vehicles. Though $25,000/$50,000 is the minimum in Georgia, some policy limits can be upwards of $1 million if a business vehicle is involved or tractor trailer.
Once policy limits are determined, and the client has completed treatment, the attorney will then request the final medical records and bills. Your medical records and bills are what make up the bulk of the demand the attorney sends to the insurance company.
Other important documents that are needed for the demand are those pertaining to wage loss. Sometimes work is missed due to your injuries or you are unable to perform your normal work duties and you are given light duty (which may pay less money or be fewer hours than your normal position). It is important for you to obtain doctor's notes that indicate how long you must be out of work and any work restrictions. Additionally, if you are terminated from your job due to injury, documentation should be obtained and sent to your attorney right away. The attorney will also request information from your employer concerning salary or hourly wage, and how many hours you work per week in order to calculate the loss of income.
Once all pertinent documents are obtained by the attorney, they will draft a demand to the insurance company. This is a letter that describes how the collision occurred (including if the defendant driver was texting, generally distracted, or intoxicated), a description of your injuries and medical care, wage loss calculations, and an account of the pain and suffering that you have endured due to the negligence of the other driver. It will demand a monetary amount which you and your attorney will discuss prior to the demand being sent. This amount will not exceed the policy limits available. Additionally – copies of all medical records, medical bills, lost wage forms, accident reports, and photographs will be included.
Once the insurance company contacts the attorney negotiations begin and the attorney will be in contact with you to advise of offers and receive permission from you to negotiate.
In the end – the goal is a resolution that will compensate the client fully.
Because insurance companies try to pay as little on a claim as possible – it is important to have adequate representation by a skilled and knowledgeable attorney. You can contact me, Jessalyn Barrett, at any time for a free consultation and case evaluation either by phone at 912-428-5599 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.