Obtaining a Lawyer, Beginning the Litigation Process, and Doing Your Due Diligence
If you were injured in a car accident, it’s important that you take the steps to obtain the full and fair compensation you deserve, and that can only be done with a great lawyer on your side. With over 30 years of experience representing personal injury victims on Long Island throughout Nassau County and Suffolk County, I am proud to run a law firm that values the importance of taking the time to understand the impact of our client’s injuries and to develop individual litigation strategies that best suit their needs.
Education is power and I firmly believe that if you know what you are going into, you’ll feel much more confident and prepared. As a lawyer who cares, I am passionate about openly sharing important legal knowledge through blogs like this one. Since most people aren’t familiar with the life of a personal injury case, continue reading to learn about the life of a personal injury case from the accident to the Preliminary Conference. Click here to read part two of the life of a case, which picks up from that point and finishes with the settlement and/or trial.
What happens first?
If you are injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the first thing you will want to do is to go to an attorney with experience that you can trust, and sign a Retainer agreement to hire that lawyer to represent you for a bodily injury action. If you look to Google to find the best personal injury lawyer near you, you may be surprised to find a mountain of names to sift through.
To help narrow your search, make sure you are confident that your attorney will pay personal attention to you and your case, is easy to access, is transparent, and has extensive experience with cases like yours. Once you have selected and hired your attorney, it’s time to begin the litigation process.
What is the litigation process?
The process begins when your lawyer prepares the Summons and Complaint. This document is filed in one of the New York State Supreme Courts. There are three options for which court/county you can file in which will become the venue (the court/county where your attorney can place the action in). The court can be the one where the accident happened, where you live or where the defendant lives.
A copy of the Summons Complaint is then served on the person or people who caused the accident by a process server, and they turn it over to their insurance company. The insurance company will then provide them with lawyers free of charge who will defend them in the lawsuit process.
A response to the Summons Complaint
Once the defendant’s attorneys get involved, they then prepare a response to the lawsuit, which is called an Answer. They then request various types of documentation and information from your lawyer. The documents requested will likely include:
1. The description of how and why the accident happened
2. What your theory is to prove it was their fault
3. A summary of what your injuries are/were as a result of the accident
4. Proof of any medical treatment that has been administered
5. Names/information regarding which hospitals, doctors, and therapists you’ve seen
6. Results from any medical testing you’ve had
Your lawyer is required to provide copies of all medical records along with HIPAA authorizations so the defendant’s attorneys can obtain the records directly from the providers themselves. They will also provide them with authorizations which permit them to get the No-Fault file. In addition, if you are out of work due to the accident, they will get an authorization to obtain your employment records.
Documented outline of the case
Once all of the documentation is prepared, your attorney will compose a written document called a Bill of Particulars, which outlines the entire case for the defendant’s attorneys. They will also request an initial conference with the court which is called a Preliminary Conference.
The next steps in the life of a case include a deposition, doctors’ visits, check-ins with the court and then settlement negotiations or trial, all of which will be covered in my next blog. If you have any questions about a pending personal injury case that you have that may or may not be moving as fast as you want, you are welcome to give me a call at 631-495-9435 and I will be happy to go on the court computer to take a look at what’s been done, what needs to be completed, and give you an honest evaluation.
Remember, if you aren’t happy with your lawyer, you can change attorneys at any time for any reason and it won’t delay your case or affect your recovery in the end.