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Posted in Personal Injury on September 13, 2022
What is the pre-litigation phase of a personal injury case? Pre-litigation refers to anything you do to pursue your claim before filing a lawsuit. Of course, you might reach a generous settlement before filing a lawsuit. Even if the defendant is so stubborn that you have no choice but to sue, you will likely settle your claim before trial.
Almost any personal injury lawyer will offer you a free initial consultation. At this point, the lawyer has not yet agreed to take your case, and you probably haven’t decided whether to hire them.
The lawyer will want to gather enough information from you to answer the following questions:
Your lawyer might ask you to send them documents or evidence that you gathered at the scene of the accident (photographs, contact details for witnesses and any other party involved, insurance policy details, etc.). The lawyer might offer to represent you if you have a strong claim.
Your lawyer will probably want to arrange payment on a contingency fee basis. In other words, your legal bill will equal a pre-agreed percentage of whatever amount your lawyer wins for you. If your lawyer doesn’t win you any money, you won’t owe any legal fees.
Once you hire a lawyer, they will commence a preliminary investigation while the evidence is still fresh.
Your lawyer might:
The potential items that might constitute valuable evidence are nearly unlimited. For example, in a truck accident, the lawyer might seek to examine the contents of the truck’s event data recorder to learn details of the accident.
A demand letter is a letter your lawyer sends to the opposing party, typically an insurance company. This letter notifies the opposing party of your claim, briefly describes it, and demands compensation. The insurance company will respond with a routine “reservation of rights letter.” The demand letter kicks off the pre-litigation negotiation process.
Bargaining is a back-and-forth process of offer and counteroffer, powered by arguments for and against liability. The opposing party will probably be an insurance adjuster, not the defendant. Insurance adjusters negotiate for a living, so they are good at what they do. Never fear–an experienced personal injury lawyer can hold their own against an insurance adjuster.
If the adjuster’s pre-litigation settlement offer is inadequate (or nonexistent), you don’t necessarily have to resign yourself to a paltry pre-litigation settlement. The likely reason you cannot convince the insurance adjuster to offer an adequate settlement is that you lack evidence. There is a convenient way around this problem if the evidence you need is in the hands of the defendant.
If the opposing party refuses to settle during the pre-litigation phase, you might have to file a lawsuit – which doesn’t necessarily mean you will end up at trial. One reason to file a lawsuit is to gain access to the pretrial discovery process. This process allows you to obtain evidence in the opposing party’s possession. The evidence you uncover could force a settlement instead of a trial.
No reputable lawyer will guarantee you victory or a certain amount of compensation. However, a skilled personal injury lawyer can dramatically improve your odds of success. In personal injury law, it’s not just whether you win or lose—it’s how much you win compared to the losses you suffered.
If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City personal injury lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.
We have two convenient locations in New York:
Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #409
New York, NY 10123
Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242