This is the second post in a series of articles addressing dealing with insurance companies in Fort Worth, Texas personal injury cases. The previous article provided an overview of the key issues to be considered when one has been injured in an accident. This post will focus on what happens after the accident when an insurance company becomes involved in the process. It will also discuss the role of a personal injury attorney during this crucial phase. If you have been injured, contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the incident to preserve your legal rights.
Soon after an accident occurs, the defendant’s insurance company will be notified and begin its investigation into the event. Early in the process, an insurance adjuster will make contact with the victim to collect a statement and other information about the injuries. It is important to understand the adjuster does not represent the victim, but rather, will attempt to minimize the exposure to the defendant. By contacting a personal injury attorney immediately, the victim can secure a legal representative to work directly with the adjuster. The lawyer will provide a letter of representation to the adjuster directing the company to contact the attorney instead.
From this point forward, victim’s counsel will begin investigating the accident. This includes gathering medical bills and records, police reports, witness statements and other information that may be relevant to the case. It may also include retaining experts to evaluate the seriousness of the injuries, the fault of the defendant and the long-term impacts on the injured parties ability to work. Once the victim’s long-term medical prognosis can be ascertained, the attorney will use the information to calculate damages. Ultimately, the attorney will use this information to prepare a demand letter to be sent to the adjuster setting forth the damage calculation. Depending upon the types of injuries sustained in the accident, the period of time between the accident and the preparation of the demand letter could be significant.
Following the adjuster’s receipt of the demand letter, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company with the intent to settle the case. Settlement negotiations can also be lengthy if the insurer decides to engage its own experts to challenge the proposed damage calculation. If the parties reach an agreement, the attorney will negotiate the terms of a settlement agreement. If unable to agree, the case will proceed to litigation.
It is important to note that some law firms advertise the ability to reach a “quick settlement.” While this may seem attractive in the face of mounting medical bills or inability to work, this approach may not be in the best interest of the victim on a long-term basis. We recommend hiring a law firm with the resources to commit to your case for as long as necessary to obtain the best result. These recommendations apply regardless of whether the incident took place in Fort Worth, Dallas, or another Texas area.