ONCE YOU RETAIN US AS YOUR ATTORNEYS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Gathering Information and Visiting the Office
After our initial interview with you, we send forms to your doctor, employer and hospital, as applicable, to obtain records of your treatment and lost wages. Simultaneously, we investigate your accident by contacting police, witnesses and other sources of information.
Contacting Insurance Company
We then contact the defendant and/or his insurance company to let him know that we represent you. We provide the insurance company with authorizations for your medical records, and your salary records if lost wages are claimed, and also with information concerning our legal claims against their insured.
Initial efforts are aimed towards settling your case with the defendant's insurance company without litigation, if possible. We afford the insurance company a reasonable period of time to gather the necessary verification of your injuries from the doctors and employers, and to perform their own investigation of the accident.
If there is a dispute either as to who was at fault for the accident, or the amount of money necessary to compensate you for your injuries, we may be unable to settle the case without taking further steps. This does not mean that the case will have to be tried before a jury; it merely means that a fair settlement could not be reached prior to litigation. The majority of cases do get settled at some point before trial.
We prepare a Summons and Complaint which is served upon the defendant(s). A Summons is a legal document which notifies the defendant that someone is making a legal claim against them. The Complaint says, in a general way, how the accident happened, who was involved and where and when the accident occurred.
Bill of Particulars
The attorney for the defendant's insurance company then responds to the Complaint by serving an Answer, which usually admits that the accident happened, but denies that it was the defendant's fault and, at the same time, demands that we serve detailed information indicating how the accident happened and what the injuries are. This is called a Demand for a Bill of Particulars, and the document we provide in response is called a Bill of Particulars. Our office in turn demands certain information from the defendant. This process of exchanging detailed information is known as "discovery".
The information that we provide in the Bill of Particulars is obtained from the information you give us, our own investigation, the police report, lost wage verifications and from the medical reports we receive fromthe doctors and hospitals. In most cases, it will require some time to obtain the necessary records to respond to the Demand for a Bill of Particulars.
Examination Before Trial ("EBT")
After the Bill of Particulars is completed and other discovery demands are served and responded to, we may hold what is called a "deposition" or "Examination Before Trial" ("E.B.T."). The E.B.T. is an informal exchange, usually held at a mutually convenient office, at which time we question the defendant on your behalf and you may be questioned by the defendant's representative. If there is going to be an E.B.T. held in your case, we will notify you by mail. E.B.T.'s are sometimes adjourned due to unavailability of the participants involved.
Placing Case on the Calendar
After the E.B.T., your case will be placed on the Court Calendar and await its turn for trial. If your case is going to be tried, it may take a year or more from the time that we place it on the Court Calendar until the Court is available to hear the case. Fortunately, most cases are settled before trial or at the time of trial. It is prohibited to place the case on the Court calendar until the E.B.T.s are completed, and all discovery is finished.
How Long Does It Take
How long it will take to conclude your case depends on various factors, such as the extent of your injury, the degree of support provided by your physicians, whether the insurance company questions who was at fault in the accident, which insurance company is involved, and many other factors.
Please be assured that we are always proceeding with the necessary legal documents and formalities in your case, even though the case may be settled long before trial. We do this so we do not lose any time while the case is being negotiated with the insurance company.
This process is taking place in all accident cases in our office, but to you, our client, the process may appear confusing and protracted. Please rest assured that we understand and share your emphasis on resolving the case promptly, for the best amount possible.
PLEASE NOTE: You may not hear from our office for periods of time following our acceptance of your case. The reason for this is that we have proceedings to follow on your behalf which do not require contact being made with you. However, please feel welcome to call us at any time with questions concerning your case.