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How Personal Injury Attorneys Can Use a Checklist to Increase Efficiency

Posted on : February 1, 2017
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Some Attorneys believe they have worked enough personal injury cases that they do not need a Personal Injury Case Checklist. They simply know the process from start to finish in their mind. Similarly, some Attorneys believe that each case is different enough that a checklist is simply unnecessary. However, there are many repetitive tasks that occur while working on a personal injury case were a Personal Injury Case Checklist can be very efficient and helpful.

Attorneys will often need to delegate some routine tasks to their paralegals or legal secretaries. Creating a Personal Injury Case Checklist for these basic tasks which are required in almost every case is a good idea. These tasks are often time sensitive. It is a good idea to create a checklist of each task and assign deadlines for each task to be completed.

Intake of Client Information

As soon as possible you will want to schedule the initial client interview. In the initial client interview you will obtain some basic information about the potential client such as:

  • the clients name
  • address
  • phone numbers and email
  • type of injuries
  • date of injury
  • spouse
  • employment information
  • educational background
  • places of treatment
  • medicines prescribed
  • police report
  • photos of the accident

At Pepper & Odom Law Firm, we have a New Client Intake Form to simplify this step and gather the potential client’s basic information. The client fills this Intake Form out when they come to the Firm for the first time. It is similar to what you will fill out when you go to the doctor’s office for the first time.

Evaluation of the Case/Client

Once you have enough information to properly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the case, you can decide if you want to accept or reject it. Always check the date of injury and when the Statute of Limitations runs.

If you decide to accept the case, you will want to have certain documents signed by the new client such as the Attorney Fee Agreement, HIPAA release, Employment Verification form, Bankruptcy Verification form, and often a Non-durable Power of Attorney.

Tasks To Complete Within The First 30 Days

Within the first 30 days, you will want to send a letter representation to the defendant’s insurance carrier. During this stage your new client will often still be treating with a medical provider. While you wait on the client to finish treating, use this down-time to draft the Complaint and Discovery including Interrogatories, Requests for Production, and Requests for Admission.

Tasks to Complete While Waiting on Client to Finish Treating

After the client finishes treating, you want to gather all medical records from all medical providers where the client treated. Next, you will create a summary of all the client’s medical records and bills. You will use these to create your Medical Special which will be part of your demand package that you will send to the insurance carrier for settlement negotiations. The goal should be to accomplish these tasks within 30 days after the client finishes treatment.

Tasks to Complete if Settlement Negotiations Fail

If you are unable to negotiate a reasonable settlement for your client, next you will want to file the Complaint have the Summons issued and served upon the defendant as soon as possible. Next comes the Discovery stage and the Personal Injury Case Checklist will help you stay on top of the case.

Discovery Tasks to be Completed

Once the defendant answers the Complaint and Discovery, you will want to review their responses for any deficiencies. If any deficiencies are found, you will want to send a good faith letter requesting supplementation of the responses as soon as possible. During this time, you can also expect Discovery to be propounded to the plaintiff.

Next, you will want to schedule deposition dates for the defendant and any fact witnesses you may have. This is also an ideal time to review the local rules of court. You should also contact the court administrator to determine if the judge has any preference on deadlines prior to trial, such as designation of experts and depositions of doctors.

This is the perfect time to contact the Court and get a trial date. It is a good idea to get a scheduling order and place as soon as possible.

Now, you will want to supplement any Discovery responses, if necessary.

You should use this time to decide if you need to file any Motions in Limine, such as Motions to Strike experts. You also want to issue any Witness Subpoenas for your witnesses you will have testify at trial.

The Pre-Trial Order

By this time you should be in full trial pre mode. Most Judges require a Pre-trial Order, which will list all the witnesses, exhibits, concise summary of facts, stipulations, contested issues, that both sides will present at trial. Although some Courts/Judges don’t require a Pre-Trial Oder, I have found that it is very useful to do for being prepared for trial. Similarly, using a Personal Injury Case Checklist allows you to have everything you need accomplished to be prepared for trial.

By: Injury Attorney Everett Pepper

Pepper & Odom Law Firm

571 Highway 51, Suite B

Ridgeland, MS 39157

601-202-1111

www.pepperodom.com

 

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