Handling your Georgia Personal Injury Claim – A Complete Guide Part 3
- What are the steps to handle a Georgia Accident claim?
Q: Please describe the case handling process from beginning to end, including triggers that would signal moving from one step to another.
A: The case handling process usually begins with an in person meeting with the potential client. During this meeting the attorney will gather information regarding the case, and make a determination as to whether there is a case or not. The questions include ones that will identify who the negligent party was, whether there were any witnesses, what the injuries were, and if there were any prior injuries that might cause a dispute of liability.
If the attorney thinks there is a case, then we will go ahead and set up a file and the client will sign a contract for representation. We will explain to the client how personal injury cases are handled, and what the law allows recovery for. Then we will send out a letter of representation to the at-fault party, or their insurance carrier. In that letter we will request the policy limits information. It usually takes a week or two to get that information in. We will also get medical authorizations signed by the client, which gives us authority to obtain copies of a client’s medical records. We will then write to the hospital and doctors to get the medical records and itemized billing statements for the treatment that has already been received. We will also obtain police reports, photographs of the accident location, damage to the vehicle, and external injuries. We will also interview any witnesses. We will stay in touch with the client if they are continuing to receive treatment, to see how the treatment is progressing.
At some point the doctors will determine the client has reached their maximum potential recovery. We will then write for the additional medical records and billing statements. We will also obtain a wage and salary verification from the employer to allow us to prove lost wages damages. At that point we will evaluate the case, and make a determination of what we think a fair settlement of the case is. We will then send a demand letter to the insurance company, which includes details of the nature of the case, all backup documentation, and what compensation our client is demanding. At this point we will negotiate with the insurance carrier to get to a figure both the client and the carrier can agree to. If an agreement is not reached, a case will then go to mediation, and potentially litigation. Those processes are described below.
- How will I be paid for my injuries? How does the accident lawyer get paid?
Q: When a settlement is reached, how do you and the client get paid?
A: Once a settlement is reached or a verdict is rendered, the insurance company sends a lump sum payment with the name of the client and the attorney’s name on the check. The check will be sent to the attorney’s office with a release, and at that point both the client and the attorney will sign off on the check. The check is deposited in the attorney’s trust account. Then the attorney writes a check to the client for the amount of the recovery, less the attorney’s fees and expenses. The attorney then writes a separate check to his firm for the attorney fees and expense reimbursement.