For an accident caused by a drinking driver, the time for your personal injury lawyer to obtain a settlement depends on four factors: (1) investigation; (2) time for treatment; (3) time to prepare a demand; (4) time for insurance company review.
[If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a drinking driver and have questions for an Atlanta personal injury lawyer, call us at 770.587.5529]
Investigation. Your personal injury lawyer first needs to obtain information about the accident caused by the drinking driver. He or she will need to obtain a crack investigator who will collect statements from the investigating officer. Your injury lawyer will need to send several requests for records, including the accident report, the 911 call, a certified copy of the traffic citation and disposition, photographs of the wreckage for both your car and the drinking driver’s car, property damage repair estimates as well as your treatment records. Treatment records include three main sources of information that need to be collected from every treating doctor or medical provider: your medical notes, medical bills and often a doctor’s medical narrative. This process takes approximately 45 – 60 days, assuming the person injured in a drinking driver accident has finished treatment fairly soon after the accident.
[If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by a drinking driver and have questions for a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta, call us at 770.587.5529]
Time for Treatment. Your lawyer cannot submit a demand to the insurance company without first knowing the full extent of your injuries. This means that you will need to either complete treatment or reach a plateau of treatment (where you are stable and your injuries are getting no better or worse) before your lawyer can submit a demand. This medical treatment plateau is called “maximum medical improvement.” There are exceptions to this rule. Contact The Burkey Law Firm for additional questions.
Time to Prepare a Demand. Once your personal injury attorney obtains all investigative information and your treatment records,he or she will then need to prepare a demand (or request for settlement) to the insurance company. This requires information about the insurance company’s policy limits. Typically, the injury lawyer drafts a document which summarizes the areas of negligence (what the driver did wrong), your medical treatment, medical bills and his or her valuation of the claim. In the case of an accident caused by a drinking driver, the lawyer will typically include legal research. Demands for an accident caused by a drinking driver typically run ten pages or more in length. At the Burkey Law Firm, we often include photographs, digital images and even video when available. We usually embed this information into a digital word document that is either emailed or delivered via CD. This process can take several weeks depending on the complexity of issues involved.
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Time for Insurance Company Review. After receiving the demand, the insurance adjuster prepares a review and then submits an offer (or response to the demand for settlement) in writing. The typical turn-around for an insurance company to review is a demand of average complexity is thirty days. Where a demand arises from an accident caused by a drinking driver, the turn around can sometimes be quicker. In that instance, the lawyer will submit what’s called a “policy limits” demand or “time limited” demand. This type of demand if not answered timely by the insurance company produces a severe penalty.
In all, the settlement process takes approximately three to six months, depending on ability to obtain background investigation into the accident and the length of treatment. A personal injury lawyer who focuses only on getting-out a quick demand for a fast settlement check is not being thorough. You’ll typically see those folks on TV and they should be avoided like the plague. This is because a premature demand is likely skipping important information, such as a key witness to the accident, the investigating officer’s statement or the results of the drinking driver’s blood alcohol level or breathalyzer test. Skip this information and the real value of the case will be overlooked by the insurance adjuster. So, getting your check fast gets the lawyer his fee fast- at the expense of obtaining full value for your settlement.