What Factors Cause a Case to Go to Litigation?
Two factors cause a case to go into litigation. First factor is the liability and is bad. That is the number one reason why a case would go to litigation. That is really it. Either the plaintiff’s fault in the accident is substantial, or the defendant did not cause the injuries. We generally term those as a liability, the liability was not good enough. Those cases are the ones they can try. The second is the victim may be unreasonable with what they want in terms of damages, and that the damages they are claiming cannot be justified.
Kind of related to that, number three, is the insurance policy is not high enough to cover the amount of actual damages that the victim may have. Those are the three types of cases that are tried. Poor liability cases where the plaintiffs and plaintiffs’ counsel are stuck in trying a case, and then two and three is the insurance policies not high enough to cover the actual damages, or the victim is being unreasonable with the amount of damages that he is requesting.
What Can Someone Expect When Their Personal Injury Case Goes To Trial?
Bringing a case, and filing a lawsuit is a significant commitment. I try to explain that to my clients every single time I have to file. You need to be committed for at least a year or more for litigation. Every time you file something, generally there is a twenty to thirty-day response time that the opposing counsel has to respond. Ultimately, if it is a significant filing, many times there are extensions and delays in responses, because it is significant enough that they need to have time. If you think about every paper that is filed with the court, if there are twelve papers filed over the course of a year, there are thirty days of a response time, it can be a significant amount of time, so it is commitment.
What you can expect is to be called in for a deposition, interrogatories, and being responsible to answer significant discovery about all of your healthcare treatments, including predates of your injuries. They want to know if there are any prior injuries. Discovery is probably the most complicated part of the process, and certainly, the most commitment is needed from the victim.
How Does Going To Trial Affect The Overall Cost Of The Personal Injury Process?
A trial costs significant amounts of money. The costs go up dramatically. The reason that it is not just the plaintiff and defendant, and he-said she-said, it is often testimony of the certified life care planner, or testimony of an economist, vocational expert, vocational therapist, or a physical therapist. There is often some testimony from treating physicians, and because all of those experts are fairly well in demand, including the physicians, it is not as if they can walk out because they were subject to a subpoena. We have to take their trial depositions in addition to what we call the discovery deposition.
The discovery is not for purposes of trial, it is for purposes of discovery. At the close-up discovery, we will take trial depositions of witnesses that we need to have testify, but cannot appear in the courtroom. We have to do a videotape trial deposition of a treating physician because treating physicians just cannot come at a beckon call. We have to arrange that with the doctor, and usually, do it at his office. Every time you take one of those depositions, it is thousands of dollars. Once you file the case, it becomes a significant expense to litigate it properly, and oftentimes you need to review those factors before you file in lieu of the defendants getting any settlement offers. Even at a minimum, most cases run the range of $20,000 to $50,000 in costs associated with litigation. It is a pretty significant burden.
Those cases come out of the victim, or the plaintiff’s fund, and they come out aside from the fees. Therefore, if you are fighting for a small policy, sometimes you throw good money after bad that is essentially unrecoverable. You have to weigh all of those factors before you file.
Helpful Tips For Personal Injury Plaintiffs
I usually tell clients to keep a diary of all medical treatments and their medical providers’ addresses, names, dates, and times of every visit. The more information they can add is important to their case. The other thing I generally do is I give them a list of criteria that they need to think about every time they go see a treating healthcare provider. I tell them to ask the treating physician about what their potential recovery is, and what kind of things they can do to help their recovery. I ask them to include in the treatment notes to ask the doctor what kind of future treatment would be necessary to get the victim or plaintiff back to maximum medical improvement.
Additional Information About Personal Injury Cases In Maryland
One thing that we really have not touched on is insurance company statements. It is never a good idea to speak to an insurance company without representation, because oftentimes, that is the way the insurance companies will find responsibility in the plaintiff. They will find liability from a statement made by the plaintiff before they retain an attorney. They do that quickly, because they know that the attorney can coach the victim or plaintiff as to how to answer questions and not answer them improperly.
Sometimes, it is not a question of truthfulness; it is a question of interpretation. You have to make sure that when the statements are given that they are interpreted in context, and not being permitted to be taken out of context by the insurance adjusters. They will try to do that to find that there is either responsibility on the plaintiff or no responsibility on behalf of the defendant. Therefore, we have not really touched on that one issue. I think I would say never ever talk to an insurance adjuster without an attorney because particularly in Maryland, we have the contributory negligence as opposed to comparative negligence.
Contributory negligence is a complete bar to recovery from the plaintiff. Therefore, if they indicate in their statement, any possible contribution to causing their own injuries, then adjusters are trained to spot that, and use that against them to deny coverage, or deny indemnity.
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