Ira Maurer, Founder of The Maurer Law Firm in Fishkill, New York, offers free consultations for victims of serious personal injury. At The Maurer Law Firm, it is our belief that every client needs to be thoroughly educated about their claim and the legal process.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Large injury claims usually need to be litigated in court in order to force an insurance company to pay a significant sum of money. If a lawsuit is going to be pursued, it is the lawyer's job to determine what court to file the lawsuit in; the lawsuit is started by filing a few documents, including a complaint with the court. The complaint identifies the parties to the lawsuit, sets forth your factual allegations, lists your claimed injuries and states the sum of money you are seeking in damages. The complaint gets served upon the party you are suing and your insurance company will then hire a law firm to defend the lawsuit. The defense lawyers will then serve a formal answer to the complaint admitting or denying your allegations and will also serve pretrial written discovery demands, intended to find out as much as possible about your claim. Your lawyer will also serve pretrial demands. Once both sides have responded to the pretrial discovery demands, the lawyers will start taking pretrial testimony, also known as depositions or examinations before trial, starting with you the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The depositions are usually held in the lawyer's office who is representing the party giving testimony. The people who are present in the deposition include: the lawyers for both sides of the case, the witness giving testimony and a court reporter who will use a stenographic machine to take down everything that is said. A written transcript of the testimony will then be provided to the witness for review and correction, if necessary.
You have the right, as a party to the lawsuit, to attend every deposition. Whether or not you do so depends upon the circumstances of your case, once you have given your pretrial testimony you will have to attend a physical examination by one or more doctors hired by the defense. The nature of your injury will determine what kind of doctor will examine you. For example, if you've suffered a fractured wrist and have been treated by an orthopedic surgeon, defense counsel will have you examined by an orthopedist who will then prepare a written report which will contain a summary of his or her review of your medical records and relevant pretrial testimony, a summary of the physical examination and the doctor's opinions in the case. The parties will exchange the medical reports and other required information from the experts who are expected to testify at trial. At this point the lawyers may choose to take the deposition of one or more experts to lock the expert's testimony down so as to avoid surprises at the time of trial.
Once all pretrial procedures have concluded, pretrial motions by either side are usually filed. The motions are intended to have the court dismiss all or part of the claims or defenses asserted by the parties as well as limit the testimony and exhibits that may be admitted in during the trial. Once the pretrial motions are decided, your lawyer needs to meet with you for the purpose of evaluating your case. There should be no surprises for you during this meeting. Your lawyer should have been keeping you informed of the positive and negative things that have been happening during the lawsuit. Now is the time when your lawyer should thoroughly review your claim's strengths and weaknesses and discuss the likelihood of success or failure at the time of trial. At this point in the process, your lawyer is in the best position to provide you with an accurate appraisal of your claim and an appropriate range of settlement value. There is no exact science when it comes to evaluating a case for settlement. No specific dollar amount is exactly the right amount. That's why an experienced lawyer will provide you with a range of settlement value. At that meeting, you and your lawyer will need to agree on two numbers: the amount of money that you will demand to start negotiations, and the amount of money that will be acceptable to you to settle your case. Once you and your lawyer have met and reviewed your case together, your lawyer will be ready to speak to the defendant's insurance company representative and summarize the evidence in the case, provide an opening settlement demand and an explanation of how the demand was reached. The key to providing a good settlement demand is to give a good number that will be high enough to allow room for negotiations but not so high that the insurance company will refuse to bid against the number, killing off negotiations before they even get started. After the insurance company completes its evaluation of your claim and decides if they want to settle the case at all or how much they are willing to offer in settlement, the parties will engage in negotiations. The parties can also employ a private mediator to assist them in negotiations or the parties can just negotiate directly. If the lawsuit cannot be settled, the case will proceed to trial.
To obtain a free consultation with The Maurer Law Firm, call 845-896-5295. At The Maurer Law Firm, we treat your injuries and the impact they have on your life and your family personally, as if our lives depend on it.