Personal injury lawyers often maintain large caseloads, and the cases don’t resolve overnight. An experienced lawyer with a large docket of cases may need to juggle significant volumes of information. This is why most personal injury lawyers maintain detailed processes that can be distributed to staff and implemented in each and every case to avoid errors and missed deadlines. Here’s a personal injury case checklist to help you keep organized.
#1 Statute of Limitations
There are generally three ways a personal injury lawyer can be successfully sued for malpractice. The very top reason is missing a statute of limitations. If you miss the statute of limitations, you run a very real risk of being sued. Make sure that you do your homework early and make the date of injury and statute of limitations the first items on your checklist.
#2 Initial Letter of Representation
The first task upon accepting a new case is usually to send a letter of representation and attorney lien notice to the potential defendant or their insurance carrier. There are, of course, exceptions in some situations. But this is a general rule of thumb.
#3 A Welcome Letter to the Client
Make sure you have some way of sending the client an initial letter with details about what to expect and instructions regarding their case.
#4 Notify Medicare or Other Lien Holders
If the client has Medicare, Medicaid, private health coverage, or medical payment coverage through their own insurance, then you will want to notify all of these entities so that you can protect liens and maximize your client’s final recovery.
#5 Treatment Updates
Once your client has begun treating for injuries, you will want to make a regular schedule of following up on the status of the medical care so that you know as soon as treatment is completed. Some lawyers prefer to obtain medical bills and records along the way, while others prefer to wait until the end of treatment to collect all final patient charts. That decision is up to you, as the lawyer.
#6 Settlement Demand
Once you have all the evidence, treatment records and other items you need, you will make a settlement demand, wherein you propose a potential settlement of the matter based on the information submitted.
Need assistance with your settlement demand packages? AWR Trial Solutions has years of experience helping lawyers put these together. Schedule services with us today.
#7 Top Offer Letters
Once you have negotiated and reached the defendant’s absolute top offer, you will need to communicate this to your client. By most states’ ethics rules, you are required to communicate all settlement offers to your client. Ideally, you will communicate the “top offer” in a different way, so that your client fully understands your estimate of their final recovery based on the top offer. This allows the client to fully appraise the value of the offer.
#8 Negotiate Liens
Next, once you have a top offer and your client has indicated willingness to settle, you will want to negotiate with any healthcare provider or lien holder who may have a right to reimbursement. The goal at this stage is to maximize the client’s recovery.
#9 Sign the Release Agreement
Your client will finally need to sign a formal settlement agreement, sometimes called a “release.” This is a contractual agreement that resolves the claim and triggers payment by the insurance company or defendant.
#10 Payment to Client
The final step is to meet with your client to deliver their portion of the settlement, less the fees, case expenses, and lien holder payments that were withheld.
More Ways To Keep Your Cases Organized
At A. William Roberts, Jr. & Associates (AWR), we provide a full range of litigation services to help your team stay organized and improve the impact of your cases. Our team can craft excellent firm-wide checklists and case flowcharts as well as high quality litigation materials to help you at your next trial. Contact us today to schedule services.