By: Karen Piso Nadeau, Esquire
For many of our Massachusetts injured clients that we have represented over the years, the fear of the unknown is the most significant thing that creates a lot of anxiety and worry when they or a loved one has been injured in an accident at the hands of someone else’s wrongful actions. The claims process is overwhelming. There are phone calls from the insurance companies. Claims adjusters are asking for statements. There are medical appointments and medical bills that are unpaid. Injured parties are unable to work and losing much needed income to survive. There is paperwork to review and forms to fill out. Sometimes there is property damage that needs to be addressed such as totaled vehicles and bicycles that are destroyed. Victims hurt in an accident are not sure if they need a lawyer, how the lawyer gets paid, what it means to be represented by a lawyer as an injured party, and what the process looks like. When clients walk in the door, the vast majority do not know their legal rights or how to deal with the fallout from an accident to get the compensation that they need and deserve. My main objective is to educate my clients and put them at ease from the first interaction. This blog will provide a chronological overview of what typically happens when an injured client decides to call us from the very first phone call with us to the day our client receives the much-anticipated settlement check to finally put the accident behind them and start over.
- The First Phone Call To Us
When you make the initial call to our firm to discuss your accident, you will speak with either me or my law partner Leslie Harkavy about your case. This call with us is free, and you are under no obligation. We provide an initial free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your accident and injuries to see if we can help you. We will ask you some questions about the accident, how it happened, and the injuries you suffered. We will answer some of the questions you have. If we determine you have a case that we can take, we will let you know and provide an explanation. We will set up a client intake meeting with you, either in person or via zoom, depending upon your preference given our new normal with the pandemic. If we determine that we cannot take on your case, we will let you know.
When we schedule our initial intake meeting with you, we will provide you with some advice on how to handle a few things prior to our meeting to protect your interests until we meet and officially sign you up as our client. We will also email you confirmation of our meeting with a list of things to bring to our initial meeting and provide to us. We will also discuss the fact that you pay no legal fee unless we recover money for you.
- The Initial Client Intake Meeting
Our preference is to meet our clients in person for the initial intake meeting at our Cambridge, Massachusetts office or at a location convenient for our clients. COVID changed this, and we are happy to accommodate our clients’ wishes to meet via zoom or at a location comfortable for our clients. We have met clients outdoors, in parking lots, at Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Café Nero and Panera Bread to name a few spots-whatever works. At this meeting, we take some time to gather information from you about you and your life-who you are, what you do for work, what activities you like, your family life, and other nuggets that help us to understand how the accident and the injuries suffered impacted you.
We will go over the accident events and details as well as the injuries you suffered and the treatment you received as well as future treatment plans. We will review all paperwork with you and assist you in completing all necessary forms and documents such as accident reports and insurance forms. We will also advice you on the best course of action for you. We will help you navigate your treatment to make sure you get the medical attention you need to heal and make sure your medical bills are processed through the proper insurance channels. We will discuss issues such as copays and deductibles and possible insurance coverage. We will address any concerns you have.
We will review with you the necessary documents to sign you up as our client. We will discuss how the insurance coverage is anticipated to work and will take over all communication with the insurance companies as to your injuries, so you do not have to worry about this. We will also review any lost time from work and possible avenues to receive some compensation for this, both short term and long term.
We will give you a road map as to what to expect and make sure all your questions and concerns are addressed. Once we are your attorney, we take on all the responsibilities of your case to protect you so you can concentrate on your injuries, treatment, getting better and your life and family. We end our meeting with a plan on your case and schedule a time to follow up and touch base on your case and progress. In addition to our business phone number, you have our cell phone numbers to reach us as well as email and texting us available to communicate.
- Follow Up After Our Initial Intake Meeting
After you are officially signed up as our client, we take over all communication with the insurance companies related to your injury claims. This means you do not need to deal with any insurance adjuster. We also make sure the necessary forms and paperwork are completed and submitted to the insurance and police department as needed. We have regular communication with you regarding your treatment and address any issues or concerns that come along. We secure needed information for your case such as medical records, medical bills, witness observations, photographs, and determine your particular case needs and make sure everything is addressed. Some cases require an investigation as to accident events or the retention of experts to provide an evaluation and opinion as to accident events. We review all of this with you, so you understand and feel comfortable with the plan for your case.
During the time after our initial meeting, our injured clients are trying to live their lives and at the same time, get the treatment that they need. You are dealing with juggling doctor’s visits and medical care, while we deal with all the necessary things to build your case and prepare it for presentation to the insurance company when you reach a medical end result. We stay in touch to see how you are progressing with treatment and ask for updates on how you are feeling and what your plans are for future medical care. Our clients also can reach out to us for a phone call or email exchange to discuss any issues or get an update on their case. Sometimes our clients receive letters in the mail regarding their case from their health insurance or perhaps some medical bills are received. We address all of this with our clients and help them through the process so that they can alleviate any anxiety or worry they have and focus on getting better, their treatment, and their family. We also help with lost wage issues and determine if our clients are entitled to lost wage reimbursement to help get them through this difficult time.
Some clients and cases may require follow up meetings and additional communication. For example, we may recommend retaining experts on some cases. More complicated medical care and severely injured clients may require additional meetings and discussions to help our clients through the maze of medical care and their specific special needs and what is best for them. We develop relationships with our clients with good communication and mutual respect and trust. This no doubt leads to helping us get the best possible results for our clients.
- Reaching a Medical End Result or Requiring Medical Care in the Future Indefinitely
At some point, our injured client either finishes their treatment related to the accident or reaches a point where there is some permanency and will require ongoing medical care indefinitely or for the rest of their lives. This is a very important moment for our clients for two reasons: First, many have reached a place of recovery where they no longer need to plan their lives around doctor’s appointments. Second, this means our client’s case is ready to make the final requests for medical records and billing as well consider the need for experts on the case and requesting doctor’s reports to address our client’s injuries, treatment, diagnosis, prognosis and need for future medical care. We also look at the lost income from work and whether it is a finite period or more permanent and ongoing. We secure all needed documentation and perform needed research to support our client’s claim.
This is also a good time to review our client’s injuries and treatment and make sure we have everything we need. We take some time to talk with you about all your treatment and any ongoing pain, limitations, and concerns. We follow up with the necessary medical providers and other entities that are responsible for sending us your records needed to support your case and make sure we secure everything we need. We keep you updated during this process and invite you to feel free to contact us for a status of your case.
We work on preparing a complete package for the insurance company that insures the party that caused your injuries during this time whereby all your medical records, medical bills, lost wage information and investigative materials and other important information are reviewed and incorporated into a Demand Package that we give to the insurance company to evaluate your case. We also work with any experts that we may recommend supporting your case such as accident reconstructionist, medical doctors, vocational experts, life care planners, economists, and other experts. Every case is unique. Smaller cases likely will not require any experts. Those clients more severely injured or in the cases involving wrongful death, multiple experts are usually retained to provide opinions to support the compensation sought.
Finally, we ask our clients to provide us with information on how the accident has impacted them, short term and long term. This includes social impact, family, activities, hobbies, work, and daily living. We take time to understand each client’s personal situation so that we may communicate this to the insurance company as part of the case.
- Final Steps Before Your Case Is Presented to the Insurance Company for Settlement
Once we have everything we need and your Demand Package is near completion, we set up a call or meeting with you to review everything. We confirm all medical treatment and lost income information. We review your current medical condition and future medical needs. We will go over the factors that are considered as part of your compensation as well as the insurance claims process. We also discuss what to expect going forward. We will answer any questions you may have. We will give you a timetable for your case going forward and the variables that will impact your bodily injury claim and resolution of your case.
- Presenting Your Case to the Insurance Company for Settlement
We will present your Demand Package to the insurance company for the negligent party. This places responsibility on the insurance company to evaluate your case promptly and fairly. Once your case is evaluated, the insurance company adjuster assigned to your case will contact us to discuss their initial offer to settle your case. We will contact you to discuss this initial offer and our recommendations.
- Negotiations on Your Case
With your input and authority, we will enter settlement negotiations with the insurance company to attempt to reach an amicable resolution of your case that results in your getting the monetary value you deserve. We will advise you along the way and will educate you about case value and other cases like yours. We will share any research about your potential case value and the settlement range that in our opinion will fairy compensate you for the harm inflicted by someone else. This negotiation period usually elapses several months and there is typically a lot of back and forth with the insurance company. We help walk you through this process and keep you well informed.
- Settlement of Your Case
Most cases can be resolved directly with the insurance company without the need for litigation/court and without the use of alternate dispute methods to resolve your claims such as agreeing to arbitrate or mediate your case. In deciding it is time to settle your case, review of the total settlement amount and what this ultimately means for you is discussed and reviewed in detail. The total settlement amount, legal fee, costs incurred, and lien reimbursement are all taken into consideration in deciding what is the best resolution of your case. Once you decide to settle your case, you will be asked to review and sign a release of all claims whereby in exchange for the compensation you receive, you agree to give up all your legal rights against the party that hurt you.
You will be given a final distribution of how the settlement money is distributed. Finally, we will notify you when your settlement check is ready. Once you receive your settlement check, our work is done, and your case is closed. You then have the peace of mind to move forward with your life with the compensation you receive and put the accident behind you.
In summary, this is an overview of what you can typically expect when you hire a personal injury attorney when you are hurt in an accident so that you may receive the compensation you deserve. Every client and every case are different and may require a deviation from the usual claims and settlement practices. Some cases require a lawsuit to fairly compensate the victim injured. Some cases may go down the road of mediation or arbitration. The most important thing to know is that with us, you are kept informed and guided every step of the way so that the best decisions are made for you and your loved ones.
When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident, trip and fall, dog bite, construction site or through any other accident, a thorough investigation of the accident events is necessary to determine the cause of the accident and secure important information. As a victim of an accident, make sure everything is done to protect your interests. The lawyers at Nadeau Harkavy LLC have over 50 years combined experience helping victims and their families recover compensation in serious injury and wrongful death cases arising from car crashes and other accidents. If you have any questions about your legal rights relating to a car accident, wrongful death, trip and fall or other accident, feel free to contact us for a free consult today at 617-674-7640.