This really means fault…as in, who done it? The more potential at fault parties on your case the longer a fight you are in for. Pretend you are the passenger in a vehicle and both sides run a stop sign. You are likely in for the long haul as both parties will try to pin fault on the other in an attempt to avoid paying out and insurance rates rising. The good thing here is a passenger assumes no liability because they aren’t driving. But what if you are a single driver rear ended on the highway. There should not be an issue over who was at fault so there is one less hurdle to jump over in getting the case resolved.
General Rule: Multiple potential at fault parties the longer the case.
Exception: One of the at-fault drivers does not have insurance.
Your case is directly related to the injuries you sustained. If you recover from treatment a few months from the date of the accident your case is likely to resolve sooner rather than later. If you have ongoing treatment for a year it would make sense to resolve your case later down the line as you couldn’t accurately assess the extent of your injuries within a few months. I warn each and every one of my clients not to rush things. The reason I do this is to avoid resolving a case and having a client come back a year later saying they are still in pain. Once a release is signed there is no going back. It is also important to point out that your injuries must be related to the crash. Insurance companies have a tendency to lose their mind when the damages aren’t catastrophic. When an insurance adjuster tells me the “property damage is small so nobody could have been injured” I like to ask the adjuster if they would agree to go back in time and stand between the two vehicles. I’ve never had anyone tell me yes.
General Rule: Bad injuries lead to longer time-frames.
Exception: Minimal insurance coverage.
· Number of Parties
In order for the insurer for the at fault party to accurately assess the extent of damages they may have to pay (AKA their “exposure”) the insurer must know the extent of EVERYONE’s injuries. This includes persons in other vehicles. If you are rear-ended by a solo driver than there is one injured party and the insurance company can easily figure out how many claims are possible. The more vehicles and more people involved the more complicated your case gets. It is also important to note that one person may be severely injured taking a year to recover while others in the vehicle are good to go within a few months. In sum, all parties involved in a crash are tied to each other.
General Rule: More parties more time.
Exception: Nobody else is hurt.
Insurance companies have an obligation to protect the personal assets of those they insure. To protect the personal assets the insurance company can’t take a chance of jury awarding more money they have available on the policy. A large number of policies in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are 25/50 “minimum” policies. This means that the most an insurer will have to pay to an injured party is 25K and the most they will have to pay for a crash is 50K (this does not mean that is the maximum you can recover, but that discussion is for another post). If there is a minimum policy and a severe injury/50K hospital bill and no liability issues the insurance company might be taking a chance by not “tendering” you the limits of 25K. However if there is a severe injury/50K hospital bill and two million in coverage the insurance company isn’t likely to be fearful of insufficient coverage. In that case, they are willing to pay insurance defense lawyers to fight. Insurance defense lawyers usually get paid by the hour. Note that an insurance company is under no obligation to provide you with limits information pre-suit, but an experienced personal injury attorney usually can muster up an intelligent estimation.
General Rule: Large insurance policy = no fear of bad faith = insurance company wants to fight.
Exception: Severe injury/large medical bills and small policy may result in “tender” of insurance policy.
· Medical Records and Bills
Once you are finished with your treatment at a particular facility your lawyer will request your records and bills. If that facility takes a long time to get the records to the lawyer it will delay the process. Generally speaking the hospital takes longer to send records than an individual doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist. More fast thinking medical providers have sufficient staffing to accommodate requests for information or have portals where lawyers can obtain records which streamline the process. Liens are also relevant to this discussion. Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, and disability liens will need to be resolved before funds are released.
General Rule: Hospital takes forever to send records to a lawyer.
Exception: Client can go to hospital and get records within a few days.
· Your Lawyer
The last factor is the ability of your lawyer. Some lawyers do not have sufficient expertise, reputation, or adequate staffing to get them the information they need to move forward on your case. Insurance companies aren’t stupid. The ability, reputation, and skill of your attorney can move your case forward. There are “tricks of the trade” that an experienced personal injury attorney can utilize to get cases resolved, but I’m not giving away my secrets. Last thought, get a lawyer you can actually communicate with. A lawyer that won't take your phone calls or emails is unlikely to have much of an interest in getting your case resolved.
General Rule: Good Lawyer = Good Result
Exception: Blind squirrels do find nuts.
Those are the six general factors for resolving a case pre-litigation. If a lawyer is telling you that your case will be resolved in X amount of days for X amount of money they are trying to get you to sign with them only to likely have you disappointed later down the line. Questions regarding any of the following can be sent to email@example.com. More info on Brian Dettman available at www.louisville-injury–lawyer.com or @TrackMyLawyer on Twitter. This is an Advertisement