Wilmington Delaware Personal Injury Lawyer
How We Handle Personal Injury Cases
Since you probably do not know what to expect as we process your claim for injuries, we would like to acquaint you with the general pattern of how we handle cases of this type. We feel it will be helpful to both our Clients and to ourselves if they know in advance what to expect.
When you are interviewed the first time at our office, general information is obtained regarding the date of the accident, the place of the accident, and the general nature of the injuries. A file is then made up on your case. It is very important that you return to the office, as soon as possible, the questionnaire you were given to fill out. This questionnaire is used in connection with the investigation as described later
We will notify the other party’s insurance company that you have retained us as your attorneys. We will also request the insurance company to give us a copy of any statements you may have given them.
Letters are sent to all physicians and hospitals involved in the case, notifying them that you have retained us to represent you. A request is made that they give no information to any insurance adjuster for the defendant insurance company at the same time. Letters are also sent to other people with whom you have incurred a bill as a result of this injury, advising them of our appearance in the matter and indicating that any unpaid medical bills will be paid from any recovery made in your case. This is done because many creditors are willing to wait for the payment of their bill if they have reason to do so. Any police officers who may have been involved will be interviewed, witnesses will be contacted, photographs of the accident scene will be taken. Any necessary information from the Director of Internal Revenue, employers, schools, or other persons will be obtained. If necessary, an investigator will be hired by us to assist us in this investigation.
It is important to know that no case is settled until the exact nature of the client’s medical condition has been determined and all investigation has been completed. It generally takes a month to six weeks to gather all information necessary and, in some cases, it is impossible to obtain the necessary medical information because the doctor cannot answer many questions until treatment has been completed. Sometimes we have to wait six to nine months from the date of accident before we can receive a final medical report from your doctor about your medical condition. If a trial of a case becomes necessary, it can take up to two years or longer to complete the case. One of the most difficult requests we make of our clients is patience.
As soon as the investigation has been completed and all necessary medical information obtained, we will sit down with you and evaluate your case with you. We will attempt to arrive at a proper settlement figure with you. No settlement figure is ever submitted without the client’s consent.
Starting a Law Suit
If settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, we will consider the advisability of filing a lawsuit. In some cases, however, it is important to start a lawsuit immediately. No lawsuit will be started without our permission.
A lawsuit is started by delivering to the other party a paper called a Complaint which indicates to him that he is being sued as a result of the accident. The other party is called a defendant. The defendant takes these papers to an attorney and the attorney then delivers to us a paper called an Answer, and at that point, the case is begun.
We want to point out that although a lawsuit may be started, settlement is always possible and is very often made just before trial.
Once the lawsuit has been started, both sides have the right to obtain information about the case by discovery deposition, interrogatories or medical examination.
Discovery Deposition is the testimony of some party or witness given under oath in the presence of attorneys for both plaintiff and defendant, and before a court reporter who takes down the testimony.
Interrogatories are written questions which either attorney may submit, and which have to be answered in writing under oath within 15 days of being received by them in the mail.
We generally use both interrogatories and depositions to help us investigate the facts. The defendant’s attorneys also have the right to take testimony and submit interrogatories.
The defendant has the right to have you examined by a physician of his choice. The defendants will pay for this examination and a report will be made about the doctor’s findings and his opinions concerning your injuries.
Under the laws of Delaware, there are no longer any secrets in lawsuits of this kind. The attorneys for both sides take depositions and submit interrogatories to assist them in finding out all the facts. At any time throughout this period the possibility of settlement may come up again and we will endeavor to discuss settlement as we move along. If anything concrete occurs in any of these discussions, we will advise you promptly.
The great majority of cases never are tried, even though lawsuits are started. Often, however, they are settled within just a few days before the trial date. If your case cannot be settled for a fair amount of money, we will, with your permission, proceed to trial. Before we go to trial, the few weeks before the trial date are spent in detailed preparation of your case. What is expected of you at trial will be explained to you in minute detail well in advance of your going to the courthouse.
It is absolutely essential that we have your cooperation in helping us gather facts about your case. You are urged to be absolutely honest with us in all of your answers throughout our handling of your case.
The information contained herein is necessarily general in its terms. We will make every effort to keep you informed by sending you copies of correspondence and other papers, but it is impossible for us to call you and give you a report on your case every week. On the other hand, if you have any questions at any time about your case, do not hesitate to call me. We would like you to carefully read the following suggestions:
- Don’t discuss your case with anyone other than your attorneys or your doctors.
- Don’t sign anything with respect to your claim until you have checked with the attorneys handling your file.
- Obtain a receipt and keep a record for all drugs, appliances or bills incurred as a result of your injuries.
- Notify us at once of any change of address, employment or of any other fact which might affect your case.
- If you are going to be out of town for more than two or three days, please call us and inform us of this fact.
- If, after consulting us, you miss any work because of your injuries, notify us right away.
- If you have to go to the hospital after consulting us, notify us right away.
- If you are self-employed, keep a record of the time you are unable to work or perform your duties.
- If you have any medical coverage, such as Blue Cross, etc., notify us so we can review the claims before they are submitted.