You did it: you called a lawyer, discussed your case, and filed a claim. You took action. Now it’s been weeks, maybe even months, and you haven’t heard from your lawyer once.
Did they forget about you? What’s going on?
Your attorney’s job isn’t to make sure you’re getting the quickest resolution to your case—it’s to make sure you get the fairest. That takes time.
Wait #1: Discovery and Evaluation
Your lawyer must investigate, depending on the circumstances, whether you have a valid:
The first step in gaining compensation for you is gathering evidence.
It can take weeks and even months to obtain all of the necessary medical records, witness statements, and expert consultations. Only after this thorough investigation has taken place can the attorney take the next step with your case.
Types of Evidence
Depending on your case, your attorney will have to gather different evidence. All cases will require the attorney to research:
- The type and duration of the injury you suffered
- The extent of financial costs you incurred because of the accident
- The type of mental and/or medical treatment you received and still need to receive
A car accident case will require your attorney to investigate:
- How much insurance coverage you have (and how much the at-fault driver has)
- Comparative fault (determining if the accident was in any way even partially caused by you)
Slip and Fall
In a slip and fall case, your attorney will spend time negotiating with health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurance companies as needed and your behalf and will need to know:
- If the building in which you fell was up to local building codes and properly monitored by property owners
- If there were any violations of fire code or traffic code
For medical malpractice, your attorney will have to submit your claim to a medical malpractice review board if you are claiming damages exceeding $15,000. Your attorney will also do research to estimate:
- How your pain and suffering (both physical and mental), including the pain and suffering caused to your family members, is likely to be viewed by the court
- How feasible it is to prove that an act, lack of action, or an omission by the healthcare provider deviated from the accepted standard of practice
Wait #2: Procedural Steps
If a fair settlement cannot be reached between you and the defendant, a lawsuit may have to be filed. If so, it is now time to follow some procedural steps:
- Process servers deliver lawsuit papers to the defendant
- Your lawyer waits for the defendant’s lawyers to respond in a document called an “answer”
- Two documents are filed with the court: one letting the court know who is involved in the lawsuit and one requesting a preliminary hearing. It will probably be months before the court schedules the hearing.
At or before the preliminary hearing, a few outcomes are possible:
- Your attorney has discussed a settlement value with you and there is a chance he/she can settle the case at the hearing
- Depending on how long the case has been on the calendar, the judge may ask the attorneys for both sides to return in a few weeks or a few months to try to settle the case prior to court
- If there appears to be no hope of settlement, a trial date will be set
Wait #3: Settlement
Once the settlement has been finalized, the other party is obligated to pay it out in full within a predetermined period of time. Delay tactics might extend your wait, but eventually the settlement check will be deposited into your lawyers’ trust account.
The check must first clear the bank. After it clears, there is still a three-part wait remaining:
- Your lawyer must deal with any liens against your lawsuit. (A lien is a legal right to someone else’s assets. A healthcare provider, Medicare,
Medicaid, or a child support agency might have placed a lien on your settlement because they previously served you on the contingency that they would be paid out of your settlement.)
- The attorney keeps his or her agreed-upon portion of the money, issuing the remainder to you via check.
- The check may take up to two weeks to clear.
While you may not have heard from your Hensley Legal Group attorney as often as you would like, there’s one thing you can know for sure: Your attorney is working hard to make sure you get the best settlement possible. The best settlement might not be the fastest, but trust us—it will be worth the wait!