Still So Long...Continued...
WHY SO LONG?
Many of you who follow this blog are wondering a few things right now. First, why haven't we seen a blog post about Stephen's own collision that occurred back in March of 2012? Second, why hasn't Stephen been blogging as regularly as he was up until the summer hit?
To the second question, the answer is that my practice has kept me very busy, although excuses like that are nothing more than excuses. Busy with work, busy with my dog, riding my bike, albeit with a stiff neck, are just some of the rather mediocre excuses I could rely upon.
To the first question, well, the answer is that it has taken all this time to have anything new to report in quite awhile. This post will attempt to explain what has and has not occurred in the past months and what will likely ensue shortly.
For those who dug through my posts about the initial incident, There's Been an Accident, (https://www.hofflawyer.com/general/theres-been-an-accident), Aftermath of the Accident, (https://www.hofflawyer.com/general/crash-aftermath), and What's Taking So Long ( https://www.hofflawyer.com/general/whats-taking-so-longcontinued), know that progress in the world of personal injury claims and litigation is decidedly unlike television and is, in fact, very slow and boring, with not much action for months at a time. (If you are unable to access these links, just page through my blog at www.hofflawyer.com/blog for the posts in reverse chronological order).
In this case, it took a great deal of time for my main treating doctor/chiropractor to gather together all the medical records, reports, bills, and craft a narrative report that explained the mechanism of my injuries relative to the impact and justified the treatment for those injuries. Lots of charts and graphs and equations. Some people just crank out canned reports and change the names, but this was truly a labor of love for him, thus the delay.
OKAY, SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Once all the medical records, reports, narrative reports, bills, and any photographs are gathered, the attorney puts them together in a packet generally in a chronological order. The more astute lawyers recognize that the typical insurance adjuster has well over 200 files on his or her desk or in his or her computer system at any one time and will do whatever possible to make the job as easy for the adjuster as possible.
One way of doing this are the addition of an itemized damage sheet, itemizing all dates of treatment for each facility, the amounts of each bill, and sometimes the delineation of paid and unpaid portions thereof.
Another method is to write a "demand letter" that highlights key points in the case--what the impact between the vehicles was and why that would relate to specific injuries, definition of some injuries and medical terms, citation or reference to the medical reports themselves, and inclusion of specific buzzwords that often get the attention of the adjuster.
Keep in mind that most insurance carriers use some sort of computerized evaluation system, so the adjuster is searching for "value adders" to enter into the system to get to a value for the case, much as the same adjuster is also looking for things that would minimize the value of the case. Also keep in mind that most adjusters are rewarded for minimizing the value of cases and keeping settlements low. If they can justify something, either positive or negative, they can plug that into the system (computer, supervisor, whatever) and basically have an answer or justification for what they just did.
All of this was done in my case and now the adjuster is in the process of reviewing things.
THEN THE NEXT STEP IS...
Often, once the adjuster has reviewed all of the medical documentation, an offer to settle will be extended. Usually, this is an offer on the lower end of what the valuation of the case was and is intended to get people to jump at fast money.
Sometimes, if there are major discrepancies in the medical, the adjuster may send the medicals off to a so-called expert doctor for review on what treatment was allegedly reasonable under the circumstances.
Othertimes, there are other disputes that can't be resolved and the claimant has no choice but to file a lawsuit.
The factors that go into what happens are numerous and often specific to the facts of the case itself. Among them are: the reputation of the insurance company (some settle fairly; many don't), the nature of the crash and liability, the medical treatment and medical history of the claimant, the amount of the bills, the immediacy of the treatment rendered, whether treatment was diagnostic in nature (MRI, X-Ray etc.) or treatment modalities (chiropractic, physical therapy, cast on a leg, surgery), the reputation of the medical providers themselves, whether the claimant is represented by a lawyer and the reputation of that law firm or lawyer, and whether injuries are objective (a fracture) or subjective (a sore neck). Some new tests do demonstrate permanent soft tissue damage but are often not accepted as factual by insurers.
THE OUTCOME WILL BE...
The outcome is to be deterimined. I will keep you posted in the coming months--stay tuned!