Most folks in Georgia are fortunate never to have been involved in a serious auto crash. They may have experienced a “fender-bender” or two, but they’ve never felt the terror associated with screeching tires and shattered glass. They’ve never felt the full impact of an airbag or endured a painful, scary ride to the hospital.
Georgians (and others) who have gone through serious accidents and who think they have a valid claim against someone who caused the crash often wonder about the steps or stages that are customary in handling a serious accident claim. Bear in mind that some points in the claims process can often overlap. Recognize also that virtually every claim is unique, but here’s a quick rundown on the basic steps involved.
Step One: Medical Treatment
It goes without saying that the most important step in the process is your fullest recovery possible. If you have broken bones or internal injuries, your initial attention should be devoted to securing appropriate medical treatment and in following the reasonable instructions of your physicians. If early on, you have retained legal counsel to assist you with your claim, such counsel can be invaluable in preserving medical reports, financial records pertaining to your treatment, and other important medical details. Clients sometimes get impatient at this initial stage of the claims process. They want to move toward a settlement as quickly as possible. Bear in mind that it generally isn’t in your best interest to settle until you have a clear medical picture as to your level of permanent disability, if any. Be patient.
Step Two: Preparing and Delivering a Demand
Once your medical picture is relatively clear, you are in a position for your attorney, if you have retained one, to begin negotiations to settle your claim against the responsible party. Your attorney consolidates the necessary financial records, assembles any required medical reports and summaries, and confers with you to discuss the likely value of your case. If the attorney anticipates the other party will argue that you share the blame for the accident, the attorney will provide guidance in order that you understand Georgia’s rules of comparative negligence.
Often, after thorough consultation with you, the attorney will send a formal demand to the insurance company defending the claim. Sometimes, however, that insurer may communicate the initial offer of compromise to your attorney. In any event, whether you settle your case is your decision.
Step Three: Litigation
Most cases settle, but many don’t settle until suit is actually filed. After consulting with you, your attorney prepares the initial documents required to initiate the lawsuit and files them. It generally takes at least 30 days for the opposing party to respond to the suit. It can take longer. After the other party has responded, there is an extensive “discovery” period during which each party can ask the other questions that have to be answered under oath. Sometimes actual testimony, in the form of a deposition, is scheduled with your medical care providers, or even with you. This can be a frustrating period, since discovery generally lasts as long as 6 months. Discovery is designed to move the case toward trial, but again, almost 90 percent of all civil lawsuits are settled short of trial.
If, after all the above has occurred, you have still not settled the case – remember: It’s your case, so you decide if there will be a settlement – you move to a trial. Each side presents its evidence. Legal arguments are presented. A typical trial for an auto crash lasts about two days. After instructions from the judge, the case then goes to a jury and it makes its decision.
Experienced Counsel a Key to Successful Resolution of Your Auto Crash Claim
The key to successfully concluding an auto crash claim is to have expert legal counsel. While 90 percent of all cases are settled, you need to be represented by an attorney who can take your case as far as it needs to go – including trial. Aggressive counsel is usually required to gain a fair settlement that covers the applicable medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. If you have been involved in a serious auto or truck accident, you need – you deserve – experienced, caring, and strong legal counsel. At the law offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C., you will have a vigorous and aggressive attorney. Clarke provides personalized service and he gets results.
Do you have questions about your rights following an auto crash? Clarke is available to help you. His clients don’t just deal with a case manager. They can talk to Clarke himself if they have questions or concerns about the status of their case. Clarke once worked for the insurance companies; he knows how they operate and what motivates them. He has office availability throughout the state of Georgia. Contact Clarke, using either the online form or via telephone at (912) 200-5292. We can schedule a consultation.