Carol Schlitt, New York personal injury lawyer, has developed a basic approach that we apply to all our personal injury cases. (You can click here to read about how we work medical malpractice cases). We tailor our approach to best meet the needs of each individual case.
We build our approach around our Client Reports, a series of documents that we provide to our clients to keep them informed about the case and all developments. This unique series of personalized reports ensures that each client knows exactly what is happening with his or her case, the value of the case and the legal and settlement process for the case. While developing each case to maximize compensation, we look for every opportunity to communicate with our clients and to deliver remarkable service.
Before Starting a Case
Prior to a client retaining us, we listen to each person and explain the applicable law and our approach in his or her case. We provide a Welcome Kit that reviews our services and the work we would do for the client. We provide a Retainer Agreement written in plain English that makes clear the nature of our client-attorney relationship, and we answer all questions that potential clients might have. We make clear the importance we place on educating our clients and communicating with them even before we start a case. We want every client to be fully informed before retaining us.
Our Approach on Personal Injury Cases
When a client retains our firm, we begin every case with a case review meeting. Our entire team comes together to review the case and determine the way we can best develop the case. We send a claim letter to the defendant to inform them that we represent the client and to open lines of communication. We start our investigation that may involve retrieving public records; filing FOIL requests; speaking to witnesses, the police and paramedics; and taking photographs. We determine what experts we may need to bring into the case, from engineers to economists to accident reconstructionists. We also begin collecting medical records and conducting case law research. After this meeting, we send each client a Case Kick-Off Letter so they know what is happening with their case.
When we complete our investigation, the entire team meets to review the case to determine if we need to explore any additional issues. We prepare an Investigative Report on each case. We send the client the Investigative Report and then review that with the client. We use the Investigative Report as a way of assessing liability and ensuring that we have all the facts of the case correct and fully developed.
The Case Assessment
When the client’s medical condition stabilizes and we have all the necessary medical records, our nurse reviews the medical records: organizing them, analyzing them and providing background research on injuries. We meet as a team to review the case to ensure that we have done all we can to develop it. We then prepare a Case Assessment, a unique document that provides a comprehensive assessment of each case.
The Case Assessment will usually run from 25 – 30 pages and review liability, damages, the value of the case at trial, the value in settlement, and a recommendation in how to proceed. This document answers all the questions that a client might have and provides the current value of the case. We meet with the client to review the Case Assessment and then make any necessary changes.
The Settlement Proposal
After reviewing the Case Assessment, we prepare a comprehensive Settlement Proposal to present to the defendant (or the insurance company). Based on the Case Assessment, this document presents our case, and we attach all the necessary medical records and supporting documentation so the defendant can evaluate the case. Our Settlement Proposal demonstrates the thoroughness of our case preparation and the strength of our case. Our experience has shown that this approach yields earlier and larger settlements for our clients.
We will then seek to negotiate a settlement that matches the value of the case and meets or exceeds our client’s expectations. If we do not receive an adequate settlement offer, we will file suit and proceed to bring the case to court. The decision to accept or reject a settlement offer always rests with our client.
In some cases, we need to file a lawsuit sooner than others. Sometimes, we face a statute of limitations or we recognize that the defendant will not negotiate so we do not wait to file a suit. In all cases, we develop a plan designed to provide the best service we can for each individual client.
Taking the Case to Court
When we file a lawsuit, we aggressively move the case to overcome the slowness of the New York court system. At every step of the way, we make sure that our clients understand what is happening with their cases. We provide a Suit Report that reviews the decision to file a lawsuit and explains the legal process. Prior to conducting depositions, we provide Deposition Guidelines to help our clients prepare and we meet with each client to prep for the depositions. As we approach the time for trial, we present each client with a Trial Report that lays out the strategy we will follow at trial and explains the entire process.
The more rigorous our trial preparation, the greater the leverage we have to force a favorable settlement. So even after filing a lawsuit, we explore settlement options. We proceed down two tracks simultaneously: the legal track and the settlement track. We do so in an effort to get as much money for our clients as soon as possible.
Once we settle a case or receive a court award, we work to deliver the money to our client as fast as possible. We prepare a Case Closing Report that explains the final steps of the process and includes a timeline on when the money will arrive and breaks out the legal fees, expenses and any liens on the case.
This brief review of our approach highlights some of the major aspects of what we do for our clients. We stay in constant touch, communicating as often as we can and explaining the meaning of each development. We help with No Fault and Workers’ Compensation and can help arrange medical care, when asked. (We never want to come between a patient and a doctor and never steer our clients to a particular doctor.) We communicate often and are always available to our clients.