You’ve been injured and you now find yourself in the beginning stages of pre-litigation. Pre-litigation can seem confusing, but it doesn’t need to be. In the past, only the most complicated or difficult cases would turn into lawsuits. Things have changed today. More and more, cases turn into lawsuits in part due to the fact that insurance claims have become more combative. For insurance companies, it’s all about profits. Because of this fact, it’s really important that if you have a significant claim, you consult an expert law firm with experience in litigation.
The Pre-Litigation Process
The first step in pre-litigation is to file a claim.
Claims are where your lawyer presents the facts about your injury to the insurance company that insures the party at fault. Next, your attorney will ask the insurance company for a predetermined amount of money to settle your claim. Sometimes the claim can be settled in pre-litigation due to the insurance company (or you) feeling that there is little chance of success or that the process may cost more than the actual claim.
Most likely you have been receiving expert medical treatment since the incident. Your doctor will determine when you have reached what’s called the point of maximum medical improvement (MMI). In essence, this means you are as healthy as you are expected to get. At this point your doctor will prepare a final report about your health/treatment. Often this is the final step prior to presenting your claim to the insurance company.
While in the pre-litigation process, you will be required to have a compulsory medical examination (CME) ordered by your insurance company and called a “first-party” CME. Odds are that this examination will state that you are healthy and as a result you will be cut-off from the medical benefits available through your insurance. “Third-party” CMEs are when the other side’s insurance company issues the CME.
Unfortunately, CMEs are powerful insurance tools and can be biased. It’s recommended that you make an appointment with your own doctor on the same day as your CME appointment, just in case the results of the two exams are contradictory.
The last step in the pre-litigation process is that once your attorney has the final MMI report, a demand will be sent to the insurance company including a specific dollar amount. This is the beginning of the negotiation process and should take less than 90 days. Should the case not be settled, pre-litigation is over and the next step is the decision to file a lawsuit or not.
How long does pre-litigation take?
The most common questions about pre-litigation processes are “How long is this going to take?” and “When am I going to get my money?” The truth is that it is nearly impossible to predict the amount of time it will take to finalize a claim.
There are a lot of factors involved, such as the extent of your injuries, the amount of paperwork that needs to be collected, etc. Some cases can be settled in a matter of weeks, some take years.
There things you can do to speed up the process. For instance:
- Communicate. Do your best to be thorough in your conversations with your lawyer.
- Be responsive. If your lawyer tries to get hold of you, return the call and provide the information needed as quickly as possible.
- Be a good patient. Follow your doctor’s orders and keep all appointments scheduled.
- Be a good secretary. Keep important documents organized and readily available. Document everything you can and keep all receipts.
Next we’ll delve into what that looks like and the litigation process.
Call Carey Leisure & Neal for Legal Services in Clearwater, FL
Contact us at (727) 799-3900 for a free no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.