You have a legitimate insurance claim but you foolishly got yourself a legal begal - Now what?
YOU MUST STAY ON TOP OF THAT HOUND DOG FOR TWO HUGE REASONS: First because that's the only way to make sure he does his job correctly. If you don't watch him like a hawk you could end up on the short end of a very long stick! And second, because most Legal Beagles think they’re overworked (if you don’t think so just ask them!) and they incorrectly feel they don’t have the time to spend on your case today, tomorrow or even six months from now. The truth is you’ve signed his Contingency Fee Agreement so he knows you’re in his back pocket and someday, when he decides to make his move, you’re still locked in. Most have convinced themselves they’re too busy to fuss with your case for awhile. Unless you bug them on a regular basis they’ll let years drag on before it gets settled.
If you've entrusted your case to one of the larger Legal Beagle dog houses in town (a big mistake) you've probably been passed on to a fumbling puppy just out of law school. Huge firms handle thousand’s of top-dollar cases. Yours will be on a slow assembly line with that puppy sniffin’ at pant legs and nippin' at heels, acting as though he knows what he's doing. You gotta stay close because the youngster you've been stuck with has little experience and he usually doesn't have the foggiest idea how to properly handle your claim.
You must stay active, throughout the whole process, no matter which Legal Beagle you hire. Demand that you receive copies of all correspondence that are sent out on your behalf, request you be copied in on everything sent to your Beagle from the insurance company or its lawyers, and insist on eye-balling the medical records sent to your lawyer (by your attending physician, the hospital emergency room, etc.) to make sure they're correct. (If they don't go into detail than the typically sloppy reporting, by attending physicians and other medical people, will be bedding you down with a rattler. If you don’t want to die of snake bite you must return those Medical Report’s to your "doc" and tell him he's gotta be more specific or you're gonna end up with a helluva lot less money than you should!).
The only way you'll ever be sure your Beagle is being straight with you is if you insist on all of the above. Also, if your lawyer knows you're keeping close tabs on your case, he’ll put it on the "front burner", keeping it off the "back burner" - - where the majority of his cases are usually cooking - - under a very low flame.
You must know what's going on with your case at all times and if you’re considered to be a pain in the butt than so be it. Make it known to your Beagle that you're not going to let your case disappear into a bottomless pit . What I'm telling you here is very simple: Don't let your case drag on and on. If you stay on top of things it'll get settled much sooner!
When your medical treatment is finished tell your Beagle and insist that he immediately gather up your records, and organize them into a "Settlement Package". What I mean by that is, a collection of your medical bills and reports, a list of all physical damages, with a thorough explanation of each, etc. Once done your lawyer should get that into the insurance company's hands just as soon as possible.
The first settlement offer should be made to him no later than 3 weeks after that "package" has been sent to the insurance company. If it isn't find out why. Be a pest, call that Beagle and push him. Your case should be settled within 6 weeks. If it isn't you tell your lawyer, "Sue the bugger‘s." To do that should take no more than an hour or two to complete - - even the puppy can do it. Those papers should be ready in a week. It's not asking too much for the suite to be filed by the time another week passes. But, this will only happen if your Beagle is humping away and staying on top of things. Lawyers need to be pushed by their clients or they'll sit on their butt's doing other "stuff". Most of them wait forever to move on a case when they could have had the job done in several months.
DISSATISFACTION WITH YOUR LAWYER: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Those words, written several hundred years ago by Shakespeare, still sums up the feelings of a lot of people. That's because Legal Beagle's don't bother touching base with their client's. Telephone messages aren't answered right away - - sometimes never. The way most lawyers treat their clients leaves them feeling ignored and powerless!
So, what’s the solution? A “Give Him Hell” letter to your lawyer, sent Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested, will get his attention, and in most cases (unless he’s a blazing idiot which some of them are) assure a prompt phone call. The letter should clearly state your complaints, and also your thoughts about hiring a new attorney - - quick like a bunny - - if the necessary steps aren’t taken.
CHANGING LAWYERS: This is a very difficult move so it must be well thought out. The following are some facts you must be aware of:
The new lawyer will ask you to contact the old lawyer telling him to turn your file over. If you have foolishly agreed to pay some of your old attorney’s costs (above and beyond the Contingency Fee Agreement you’ve signed) the two of them will have to work that out. The old lawyer may agree to wait and not be paid his costs until the new lawyer has settled your case, but (and this is usually the way that ball bounces) he may not! If that’s the situation you may have to pony up some big bucks before he turns your case over to the new lawyer.
The new Legal Beagle will want to review the file a soon as possible to determine if he wants to take it on. If it looks like some money can be made, the new lawyer may take it, but that’s a long shot. Why? Because your case has to be an outstanding “goodie” - - with a huge payoff potential for the lawyer’s “Contingency Fee”. Both Beagle’s (and there’s no way out of this one) will have to split that fee. If there’s not enough money to go around the second lawyer won’t be interested in taking you case. If that happens, you’re gonna be left with an upset attorney. Chances are he’ll let your case slip into
Limbo for years to come. That’s the risk you take when you try to dump your Beagle. Insurance companies react in various ways to a change in lawyers. They may view the switch as a sign that your case, or you, are a “problem”. There’s no doubt that the switch will tell the insurance company something is wrong. If they smell smoke, they’ll suspect a fire is probably blazing. This can result in an increased reluctance to settle. On the other had, the new lawyer may breath needed energy into the case, causing the insurance company to start thinking seriously about settlement - - but that’s a long shot. I wouldn’t bet on it.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Be sure to pick a good Legal Beagle to begin with, because you’re probably gonna be stuck with that hound dog right to the bitter end!
DISCLAIMER: The only purpose of this claim tip is to help people understand the motor vehicle accident claim process. Neither Dan Baldyga nor ARTICLECITY.COM make any guarantee of any kind whatsoever; NOR do they purport to engage in rendering any professional or legal service; NOR to substitute for a lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or claims consultant, or the like. Where such professional help is desired it is the INDIVIDUAL’S RESPONSIBILITY TO OBTAIN SAID SERVICES.
Dan Baldyga’s fourth and latest book Auto Accident Personal Injury Insurance Claim: (How To Evaluate And Settle Your Loss) can be found on the internet at http//.www.autoaccidentclaims.com or http://www.caraccidentclaims.com.
Copyright (c) 2003 Daniel G. Baldyga. All Rights Reserved.