When in the interview stage, there are several factors affecting a case, some of which impact a lawyer’s choice to either take or reject the case.
One important factor to keep in mind is Liability. This term refers to the assignment of fault in this accident. A party who is liable is responsible for all the damages resulting from an accident. If that person is covered by insurance, the insurance will take responsibility up to the limits of coverage of the contract. In an ideal world, every driver guilty of a car accident will admit to the wrong-doing and instruct their insurance to pay any damages as a result of it. When I began working as a PI paralegal, my eyes were opened to the reality. Many drivers will deny a version of the story that puts them at fault. In these circumstances it is imperative to have witnesses or a police report. As a driver who was not at fault, you should always take photographs of the accident, gather witness information if available, or call the police. If there is an ultimate conflict of statements between both drivers and there is no corroborating information for either side, the insurance companies will simply deny your claim for damages.
Having the police come to the scene is also important since police officers will try to gather factual information and transform it into a report that may help your case. Police officers are field trained to reconstruct car accidents and their reports hold value. Further, police officers will make sure to gather insurance information from the other driver in case the other driver does not want to provide it. If the other person does not have insurance, they may receive a ticket from the officers, at which point they may choose to simply provide the information.
When you sit down with the paralegal or attorney, he or she will ask various questions. For example, the paralegal or attorney need to know when the accident occurred. If the accident occurred too long ago and you have not made any effort to seek treatment, the insurance company weighs it against you. A gap in seeking treatment does not mean you are not injured, but adjusters will try to say that since you did not seek treatment right away, you must not be injured that bad. Every attorney has a different time gap they deem acceptable. If you have not treated within the amount of time they consider appropriate, the attorney may reject your case.
If you have received treatment and simply haven’t had enough time to contact an attorney, do not worry. Treating and following up with your plan of care demonstrates that you are truly injured and are serious about gaining back your health, even if you have not made a claim or contacted an attorney. Other injured parties simply struggle to find a medical provider who treats patients in car accidents, or have had an emergency they needed to care for and could not attend treatment. Ultimately, what this means is that your case is not over if you have not received care. Each case is different and consulting an attorney is your best option.
If a party at fault does not have insurance coverage, your case will be much more difficult to handle. The philosophy behind this is that, for the most part, if a driver does not have insurance coverage, it may mean they do not have many assets from which you can recover should you win a court case against them. Most attorneys will choose to withdraw from your case if this happens, though there are exceptions. The first time I heard of the three factors described above, it was described to me as a “three-legged stool”. If you fail to have any of the legs to the stool, the stool falls, meaning you most likely won’t have a case. Consult with an experienced attorney prior such as the Personal Injury Lawyer Arlington TX locals trust to get insight on if you have a case.
A special thanks to our authors at Brandy Austin for their insight into Personal Injury Law.