If you were involved in a serious accident, it’s important that you hire an attorney. While there are many qualified and effective attorney’s out there, you want to know that your lawyer knows how to litigate, not just settle and you want to know your attorney is doing all they can to help get you the fair compensation you deserve. You want to work with a law firm that takes action, will complete all the necessary paperwork, works hard to get the case onto the trial calendar, will proactively hire the right experts, and keeps you informed every step of the way.
Dangers of being stuck in the claim stage
There are many lawyers and law firms out there that will keep your case in the “claim” stage. This means your case just sits on the shelf while they get your medical records and just work to get you a quick settlement. Most of the work is done by the legal staff including legal secretaries and paralegals and the case is given to the attorneys at the last minute to try and get a settlement. The chances are high that this type of work and these law firms are not in your best interest. If you don’t bring the fight to the insurance company and turn the heat up on them, you aren’t going to squeeze them for the right amount of money.
What you can expect a great lawyer to do
The process of fighting an insurance company is a long one and takes a lot of hard work. A great lawyer and law firm will work tirelessly on your behalf to get you a fair settlement to not only compensate you for your injuries but also cover any pain and suffering caused by the accident. First, your lawyer should prepare and file a Summons and Complaint (the legal document that starts a lawsuit). They then wait for the insurance company’s attorneys to respond to that document, and prepare all necessary legal documents requested. These documents include statements outlining the injuries, theories of fault, a list of all doctors seen, and a detailed list and description of the injuries – all of these take time to compile and expertise to do so correctly.
Once your lawyer completes all requested paperwork, they file for an initial conference called the Preliminary Conference in the court where the case is pending. They then set up a timetable for the completion of discovery. In the state of New York, there is open discovery where both sets of lawyers must show the other what they have compiled to ensure there are no surprises at trial. This process encourages settlement, and the transparency is important for both sides.
At this time, your lawyer should set up a date for depositions where you will give testimony under oath about how and why the accident happened and what your injuries were. Depositions are usually the key to the case. Some people think depositions are all about the art of asking questions, but they’re actually about the art of listening to the answer (or non-answer) and going down different avenues to get the information you need to prove and win your case at trial. A skilled attorney will masterfully navigate these and prepare you fully on what to expect so you’re confident going into one.
After a deposition the insurance company is allowed to have one or more of their “independent” doctors examine you and they can testify on behalf of the defense at trial. Many times, a great law firm will have someone go with you to these exams to take notes about what occurred. Once all of these steps are complete, the case would go onto the Trial Calendar, and when the date is set and the trial begins, your attorney should be able to skillfully select a jury and try the case, getting you the fair amount you deserve.
30+ years of experience on Long Island
Mark T. Freeley has been a personal injury attorney for over 30 years, and he still loves the hard work it requires. When asked why he works so hard and loves what he does he said, “I don’t want to roll over to the insurance companies, I don’t want to take the first or second offer, I want to maximize my client’s recovery. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do and we aren’t afraid of work at our firm. We have seven lawyers, full time support staff and all the resources necessary to take on the insurance companies and their lawyers. At our firm we litigate and are not afraid to bring a case to court.”
If you have any questions about an accident or an injury, even if you already have a lawyer, it’s simple to change lawyers and if you aren’t happy or confident with your lawyer give Mark a call at 631-495-9435 to discuss your case and he will get you to the finish line.
Mark’s take on why it’s important to hire an attorney if you’ve been in a serious accident