This is a list of the services your Maryland injury lawyer will perform.
I have prepared the list in the context of a car accident claim. However, the same services would apply to a motorcycle accident or to a truck accident.
And, with adjustments, this list of services would also apply to malpractice cases, slip and fall cases, dog or other animal bite cases and death cases.
To make the list easier to follow, I have divided the services into the following categories which are, essentially, in chronological order.
❏ Initial Services
❏ Investigation And Evidence Gathering
❏ Dealing With Your Insurance Company
❏ Dealing With The Opposing Insurance Company
❏ Meeting Deadlines
❏ Filing A Lawsuit In Court
❏ Alterntive Dispute Resolution (ADR)
❏ After Trial
❏ After Settlement Or Trial
❏ Discuss the facts of your case with you and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your case. The is usually done in person, however I am finding that, more and more, I am having this initial conversation on the telephone. I think that many clients prefer this because of the convenience.
❏ Answer all of your questions and educate you about the car accident claims process.
❏ Fully explain the written agreement for services before you sign it. You will be given a copy of the signed agreement for your records.
Investigation and Evidence Gathering
❏ Gather documentary evidence of how your accident happened, such as the police report if one was prepared.
❏ Interview witnesses if necessary. If appropriate, get written or recorded statements from the witnesses.
❏ Develop other evidence, such as photographs of the accident scene, your vehicle and your injuries.
❏ Engage an accident reconstruction expert if necessary.
❏ Engage any other experts necessary to prove the cause of your accident.
❏ Prepare legal authorizations for your signature so that copies of your medical and employment records can be obtained. These must be prepared in a specific way that is established by federal law.
❏ Obtain copies of your medical records to understand your condition, the treatment you received and all other aspects of your medical situation.
❏ Get copies of your medical bills. This can be more tricky than you would think. For example, a simple visit to a hospital emergency room can result in 3 or more separate bills.
❏ Obtain documentation of your lost income. Here, also, there are specific things that must be included in this documentation.
❏ Review your health insurance coverage, if you have any. Determine whether your health insurance company, or welfare benefit plan, is entitled to be repaid for any medical bills it pays.
❏ Analyze your car insurance policy to determine whether you have coverages that will pay any of your medical bills (or lost income) while your claim against the other driver is pending.
❏ Make suggestions for any car insurance coverages that you should purchase for future protection. Although you hope there will not be a “next time,” this is a good opportunity to work with an expert to prepare for the future “just in case.”
Dealing with Your Insurance Company
❏ Assist you in arranging to have your car repaired and in getting a rental car while your car is unavailable. You may have a choice of having your car repaired by your insurance company (under your collision insurance coverage) or by the other driver’s insurance company (under her liability insurance coverage).
❏ Assist you in submitting claims to your insurance company, such as PIP claims. In Maryland, your PIP insurance pays your initial medical bills and loss of income, up to your policy limit (which is probably $2,500, but could be as much as $10,000). NOTE that if you recover from the at-fault driver, you do NOT have to repay your insurance company for PIP payments it has made.
Dealing with the Opposing Insurance Company
❏ Contact the insurance company for the at-fault driver and put it on notice of your claim.
❏ Assist you in arranging to have your car repaired and in getting a rental car while your car is unavailable. You may have a choice of having your car repaired by your insurance company or by the other driver’s insurance company.
❏ Decide, with you, whether to try to negotiate a settlement of your injury claim or file suit in court without attempting settlement negotiations. Normally, it is in your best interests to try to settle your claim before filing a case in court.
❏ If an attempt will be made to settle out-of-court . . .
❏ Prepare a thorough “Settlement Letter” or “Demand Letter” that describes and documents the cause of your accident and all of your resulting injuries, losses and damages.
❏ Review the Settlement Letter with you before it is sent to make sure that it is factually correct and that you approve the positions taken on your behalf.
❏ Negotiate with the insurance adjuster to obtain the best possible settlement offer.
❏ Analyze settlement offers that are made and advise you. Only you, however, can agree to accept a settlement offer.
❏ If required by law, give appropriate notices of your claim to potential defendants. A common example of this is suits against governments. Notice of claims against local governments and the state government must be given early. Failure to give the required notice jeopardizes your claim.
❏ Make sure that the case is settled or filed in court within the Statute of Limitations. The Statute of Limitations in Maryland that applies to most injury claims is 3 years from the date of your accident. However, there are exceptions, such as in medical malpractice cases.
Filing A Lawsuit In Court
❏ Prepare and file the Complaint that initiates your case.
❏ Arrange to have the suit papers “served” on the defendant(s).
❏ Prepare and send written Interrogatories (questions) to those you have sued.
❏ Prepare and send a request that those you have sued produce relevant documents.
❏ Take a deposition of those you have sued, if appropriate.
❏ Take depositions of witnesses, if appropriate.
❏ Assist you in answering Interrogatories that will be sent by the defense lawyer.
❏ Prepare a response to the defendant’s request that you produce relevant documents, such as copies of your medical records and bills and, if you claim a loss of income, your tax records.
❏ Prepare you in advance for your deposition that will be scheduled by the defense lawyer.
❏ At your deposition, make sure that all rules are followed and that you are treated fairly by defense counsel.
❏ Prepare you for a defense medical exam (DME), if one is scheduled. In some cases, your lawyer will accompany you to the defense medical exam, although your lawyer can only observe.
❏ File any necessary pre-trial motions.
❏ Defend against any motions filed by the defense.
❏ Do necessary legal research.
❏ Comply with all court rules and deadlines for conducting pre-trial procedures.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
❏ If the case is referred to mediation, prepare for the mediation.
❏ Represent you at the mediation.
❏ If arbitration is agreed upon, prepare for the arbitration.
❏ Prepare and present your case to the arbitrator.
If you case does not settle and is going to trial, you lawyer will do these things . . .
❏ Prepare your testimony. Your lawyer will go over your testimony with you, probably several times.
❏ Prepare the testimony of all of your witnesses.
❏ Organize and prepare exhibits that will be introduced at trial.
❏ Prepare to cross-examine the witnesses that the defendant will call.
❏ Prepare for the jury selection process.
❏ Prepare jury instructions to request that the judge give to the jury at the end of trial, so that the jury will know the law that supports your claim.
❏ Prepare an Opening Statement.
❏ Prepare for any legal issues that will come up during the trial.
❏ Research any evidentiary issues that are expected to come up at trial.
❏ Prepare a Closing Argument.
❏ Prepare and submit requests for jury instructions to the court.
❏ Conduct the trial.
❏ Analyze the jury’s (or court’s) verdict to determine if either side has legal grounds to appeal the case.
❏ Make recommendations to you for whether to appeal the case.
After Settlement or Trial
❏ Determine the validity of any liens or claims on your recovery. Doctors, hospitals, health insurance companies, disability insurance companies, workers compensation insurance companies, welfare benefit plans, government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and employers may claim that they are entitled to part of your recovery.
❏ If appropriate, negotiate with those making claims against your recovery to determine whether they will reduce their claims. (If your claim is settled, these negotiations will usually occur before the settlement is finalized.)
❏ On your behalf, and with your permission, send checks from your settlement funds to those who have a valid claim against your recovery.
❏ Report to you regularly to keep you informed of the status of your claim/case.
❏ Give you copies of all important documents sent or received in your case.
❏ Answer your questions.
❏ Respond promptly to your calls, letters and emails.
❏ Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate your claim as it develops and advise you accordingly.
Your lawyer will not have to perform all of these services in every case. Which services are required in your case will depend on the facts of your case and on how it is resolved.
While it does not include absolutely everything that your lawyer may have to do while representing you, this is a fairly complete list.
If you have us represent you in making a Maryland injury claim, we promise to do all of the services that are necessary or helpful, to do everything that is ethical and lawful, to make your case successful.