Getting in an accident that leaves you hurt and out of work is scary for many reasons! There is a lot to handle, especially in a troubling time. How will you pay your bills? Will you have to take someone to court to conduct an extensive trial?
There are several paths to reaching an agreement throughout the duration of a personal injury claim. If you were unable to reach an agreement with your insurance company or the opposing party involved, you will likely begin the process of taking legal action in the form of hiring a personal injury lawyer to establish a claim for recovery against the party at fault and their insurance company.
Last week on the PLG Blog, we covered everything you need to know about the personal injury litigation process. We learned that litigation is the next phase of a personal injury case if the claim cannot be settled in a pre-suit. This week, we are going to talk about what takes place in the pre-suit of a personal injury or auto accident case before the case moves to litigation.
Personal Injury Pre-Suit or Pre-Litigation
This personal injury case process begins with pre-litigation, otherwise referred to as “pre-suit” or the series of events that happen in a personal injury case pre-lawsuit.
What is Pre-Litigation?
As the phrase describes, pre-litigation is the process that occurs prior to litigation. This includes the gathering of necessary documents and evidence as well as any other relevant information related to your claim, getting your medical bills paid, and negotiating a settlement offer.
In pre-suit, your attorney will prepare a letter to the insurance company of the opposing side called a “demand letter.”
This demand letter will describe in great detail your accident, injuries, medical expenses, and an estimate of damages compensation that are requested of the insurance company in question.
The insurance company will take this information provided in the demand letter and investigate the claims.
Once the insurance company receives the demand letter, they will then know that you are represented by an attorney and will generally be directed to work only with your attorney from here on out.
The insurance company and your attorney will work with each other to reach an agreed settlement by way of a counteroffer to the demand letter and potential subsequent counteroffers until an agreement can be made.
Keep in mind that this process in pre-litigation will take time. The duration of pre-litigation will vary from case to case. The details within the personal injury claim as well as the parties involved will have a strong impact on how quickly a settlement can be reached.
What happens if a settlement is not agreed upon in the pre-suit?
If an agreement cannot be reached, you and your personal injury attorney may decide to file a complaint against the insurance company or the defendant which will begin the process of suing the individual or company in question.
Your attorney will draft up a complaint detailing pre-litigation negotiations as well as additional items required to make a suit. This will begin the litigation process.
If your claim reaches the point where a lawsuit is required for both parties to agree upon a settlement amount, you may be in for a longer duration dealing with the case as you make your way toward trial.
All in all, no one wants to go to court. Not the injured parties involved nor the insurance companies. It is a headache and often can mean uncertainty for those involved.
The overall goal is to reach an agreement in pre-suit so the case does not need to move into litigation. If a case can be negotiated to reach an agreement before it progresses to trial, a lot of time and effort can be saved for all parties involved.
We hope this helps clarify the personal injury pre-suit process for you.
If you are interested in learning about what happens after the pre-suit process if a settlement cannot be reached, please read our article Personal Injury Litigation 101.
If you’ve been involved in an accident resulting in a personal injury, we urge you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. It is free of charge and obligation to speak to a Pipas Law attorney 24/7.
Please contact one of our experienced attorneys at Pipas Law Group for a free consultation.