What Happens During the Pre-Litigation Phase of My St. Petersburg Personal Injury Case?
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers | Personal Injury
Only a small percentage of personal injury cases ever make it to trial. Even if you don’t end up taking your case to trial, you must still undertake certain pre-litigation procedures to pave the way for settlement or trial. Following is a brief description of some of these procedures.
An initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer should be free of charge. The lawyer will want to evaluate your claim by asking you questions, and they might ask you to bring documents such as medical bills. Their goal is the same as yours-–to determine whether your claim is worth pursuing. Since personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee, they won’t make any money unless you do.
The lawyer will want to estimate your chances of winning your claim. If your claim seems winnable, they will want to estimate its probable value. Finally, they will want to estimate how much work winning your claim will take. Personal injury lawyers generally take about 33% of your compensation in legal fees, but more if your case goes to trial.
Investigation and Evidence Gathering
If the lawyer decides to take your case, they will begin by investigating your claim. This investigation might include:
- Interviewing witnesses;
- Photographing the scene of the accident, your injuries, and other relevant evidence (vehicle damage in a car accident, for example).
- Uncovering the insurance resources available to pay your claim;
- Contacting an expert witness to evaluate your claim and (perhaps) testify on your behalf.
- Obtaining any CCTV footage of the accident; and
- Examining the police report or accident report.
These are typical steps that personal injury lawyers take during the investigation stage. There may be many more, depending on the circumstances of your case. Your lawyer will most value evidence that complies with the admissibility standards of the Florida Evidence Code.
The Demand Letter
You kick off negotiations by sending a demand letter to the other side or to their insurance carrier. The demand letter describes your claim and explains why you deserve compensation. It may or may not include a specific dollar amount. If you send the letter to an insurance company, the insurance company will reply with a routine “reservation of rights” letter.
Bargaining is likely to be the most important part of your claim resolution procedure. It may go back and forth, with offer and counteroffer, for weeks or months. Since insurance companies work through skilled and experienced professional negotiators, you should allow your lawyer to represent you.
Insurance adjusters have a thousand tricks to use on unrepresented claimants or on claimants who are not in the presence of their lawyer. Hire a lawyer early on, and refer the other side to your attorney if they try to ask you any questions. That way, you can avoid the stress of litigation and focus on recovering your health.
Mediation or Arbitration
If negotiations get stuck, you can try mediation or arbitration. Mediation and arbitration are two of the most popular alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods used to resolve personal injury cases.
In mediation, a trained third party tries to coax the parties into a settlement by generating creative compromises that appeal to both sides. In arbitration, the parties hire a private judge to listen to the evidence at an informal trial and impose a solution on the parties.
Drafting or Reviewing a Settlement Agreement
You could draft a settlement agreement or review a proposed settlement agreement drafted by the other side. Either way, you need to take great care that the language of your agreement doesn’t lend itself to unintended interpretations or consequences. Your best bet is to have your lawyer draft the settlement agreement and submit it to the other side for approval.
Consult With a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Lawyer
A personal injury lawyer can help you with settlement or trial, whatever the case may be. Hiring a lawyer can multiply your compensation if your claim is strong. The best way to discover the strength of your claim is to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer.
Contact the Pinellas County Personal Injury Law Firm Of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg personal injury law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,