How Much Personal Time Will I have to Invest in This Case?
A common line in personal injury law is that you do not pay anything unless you win. Okay great. However, do you have to do anything in the meantime? How much time of your day is this case going to take up and for how many days? Some people are daunted by the thought of negotiation or litigation. Know that your attorney will do almost all of the work regarding your PI claim, but you will have to cooperate and pitch in some time of your own just a bit.
1. You must get medical treatment.
If you have been injured in an accident you must seek medical treatment, which can often take time depending on your doctor. No one else can get treated for your injuries but you. If you choose not to have your ailments treated, you will not recover any medical expenses from your settlement. The settlement acts as a reimbursement of expenses you have already incurred.
One of the best things you can do to support your attorney is to go to the doctor quickly after your accident. Keep getting better, and keep moving towards the end of your treatment. Most personal injury cases do not settle until medical treatment is almost completed.
2. You must keep track of and collect records.
Personal injury cases are built on mountains of evidence. Your attorney will help you track down, collect, and organize your medical records and bills. You may be asked to sign several privacy waivers so that bills and records can be sent directly to your attorney’s office.
It is your responsibility to help your attorney, by seeking out and keeping as many medical records and bills as possible. Cases tend to go much faster when the client comes to the attorney with records and documents. The staff can collect the necessary information much more efficiently and use less of your time if you cooperate.
3. You may be asked to record how the accident is affecting you daily.
In some cases, your attorney may ask you to keep a diary of your injuries, pain levels, or daily impairment due to the accident. The records help your attorney quantify how much and in what ways the injury has impacted and will continue to impact your life. That way your attorney can ask for a settlement large enough to help you deal with these issues in the future or reimburse you for missed work or missed household responsibilities.
This diary should take you no more than a few minutes of your time a day. I once had a client who spent hours detailing every single detail of her pain and daily struggles. It got to be so much that she was having a hard time finding the time to care for her children while she wrote in her diary. That is perhaps too much detail.
4. You may have to appear in court or at a deposition or mediation.
If your attorney does not manage to settle your case with negotiation between him or her and the insurance company and opposing parties, your case may move into litigation. While your attorney will deal with the court and file all the paperwork, you may have to appear at key times.
If the opposing party chooses to take your deposition, that takes about a whole day. It can be longer. It can be shorter depending on the case, but most depositions are scheduled for just one day. Mediation is about the same.
If your case makes into the court system, your attorney will always appear on your behalf. Some hearings will require your presence, and some will not. That can take hours out of a weekday. If your case goes to trial, the trial may last a few days. It all depends on the complexity of the case.
During your PI case, you are not in prison like a criminal defendant. You can try to go on with your life as best you can. You will have to have injuries treated, you will have to collect information, and you may have to attend court, but your case should take no more than a few hours each week, and a few days in court at most.