What Is Pre-litigation Demand?
Suppose you’ve been involved in an accident and must file an insurance claim in Georgia. In that case, it’s crucial to understand the pre-litigation process to ensure a smooth and successful outcome. Pre-litigation demand is a critical step in pursuing insurance payouts, as it’s the first opportunity to settle disputes without going through formal litigation.
Pre-litigation negotiations involve both parties discussing the type of settlement they are looking for and determining which party will be responsible for compensating any losses or damage incurred by the other.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential steps, from prioritizing your physical recovery to seeking reductions in medical bills, preparing a demand letter, navigating negotiations, and finalizing a settlement.
At the Dressie Law Firm, our dedicated team is committed to supporting you every step of the way, providing expert advice and genuine care. If you have any questions or need assistance, please get in touch with our personal injury law firm at 678-909-1639. Our attorneys will listen to your case and offer honest advice on the best course of action.
What Are The Steps Involved In Pre-Litigation Negotiation?
01. Get Treatment as Soon as Possible
The most important thing at this stage of your claim is your physical recovery. Receiving treatment does have important implications for your case, but at the end of the day, this entire process is about your recovery.
At the Dressie Law Firm, we check in regularly with our clients to follow up on their treatment progress. We pride ourselves on showing authentic concern and compassion for our clients – and we try not to nag – but it is extremely important that you adhere to the treatment plan prescribed to you and consistently follow ALL your doctor’s recommendations.
Missed appointments create gaps in your treatment that may result in a less-than-full recovery or delay your recovery and lead to more missed work or added medical costs. If the insurance company suspects or can prove that your failure to follow your treatment plan resulted in higher costs for you or more lost wages, they may use it against you during settlement negotiations or litigation.
We are there for our clients throughout their treatment and are always available to help. Do you need a ride to get to your appointment across town? We’ll be there – just get in touch with your Dressie Law Firm team.
02. Records Retrieval
This pre-litigation phase often begins after you’ve been released from treatment. There may be situations where the projected length of your recovery or other health factors and time constraints require retrieval to begin earlier. During this step, your legal team will collect all medical records and bills from your doctors, therapists (occupational, physical, etc.), and medical specialists.
Retrieving all your bills and records can take several weeks – especially when dealing with hospitals. If you’ve ever personally sent medical bills, it’s important to forward those to your Dressie Law Firm lawyers as soon as possible.
03. Liability Demand Preparation
Your personal injury attorneys will prepare a demand letter based on the previously gathered records and information, including:
- The facts of your case
- Medical records of treatments
- Medical bills and additional expenses directly resulting from your accident
- Official incident reports
- Lost wages (based on pay stubs and backed up by doctor recommendations or testimony on how long you had to/needed to be out of work)
- Pain and suffering
Your lawyer will also want to talk with you about the physical pain you experienced and the emotional and psychological toll the accident and injury has had on your life. Your notes or testimony may be vital for justifying appropriate pain and suffering damages.
04. Offer Pending
The insurance company adjuster assigned to your case will review your demand and supporting documentation. The adjuster will have between 30 and 60 days (depending on the type of insurer) to review the demand and respond.
The adjuster response will either be agreeing to pay out the amount stated in the demand or presenting a counteroffer:
- Option A: If the insurance company agrees to pay out the amount demanded, the case moves into the settlement phase.
- Option B: If the insurance company presents a counteroffer, your case moves into negotiation.
05. Reductions, Settlement and Reimbursement
While waiting for the check from the insurance company, your legal team will seek reductions from your medical provider. Doing so can maximize the amount of money you will take home from your settlement check.
What Does Seeking Reductions Mean?
Your private or employer-sponsored health insurance will likely cover your initial medical costs, so you’re not forced to pay out of pocket for vital medical care after your accident. If you have an injury claim against another party (like a negligent driver in a car crash), your health insurance company will want to be reimbursed for the cost of your care if your claim is successful.
For example, if your health insurance company paid $50,000 for emergency surgeries and a hospital stay and your eventual settlement is $100,000, your medical insurance provider (or the hospital if your health insurance didn’t pay) will be entitled to $50,000 (or half in this scenario) of your settlement.
Overbilling and ludicrously inflated prices are common in modern health care. It’s possible that there’s some wiggle room in the $1,800 MRI scan bill you received or the $30,000 you were charged for a two-night stay in the ICU. Your attorney may be able to negotiate lower prices on those bills, meaning you get to pocket more of your settlement.
Those reductions won’t decrease the settlement amount you’re paid, just what you owe the hospital for your treatment.
Finalizing Health Insurance Reimbursement
Your personal injury lawyers should also be working with your health insurance carrier to determine how much reimbursement they require from your settlement.
Similar to negotiating reductions with your hospital, the goal is to minimize the portion of your settlement you’ll need to pay to your health insurer. They are entitled to be compensated for the costs they incurred due to the at-fault party’s actions, but the total cost isn’t necessarily set in stone, and some fees may be artificially inflated.
06. Settlement Conference
Once reductions and health insurance reimbursement have been finalized, a settlement conference will be scheduled. You will meet with your legal team to review the settlement disbursal and receive your funds.
Your lawyer will go over the final amount and how it was calculated, as well as any fees (attorney fees, costs for records retrieval, etc.) that will be deducted from your settlement.
If you agree to accept the settlement amount presented, your attorney will have you sign a release form. This is a legally binding document that states that you have received compensation for your injuries and that you will not pursue any further legal action related to this incident.
What Happens if a Settlement Cannot Be Reached?
In some cases, even after negotiation and mediation, a settlement cannot be reached. If this happens, your legal team will discuss the potential next steps with you. This may include filing a lawsuit and going through the court process.
The Discovery Process
If legal action is taken, the discovery process will begin. This is where both parties involved in the dispute gather evidence and information to support their claims. Discovery can include things like interrogatories (written questions), depositions (recorded witness testimony), and requests for documents.
Most cases are settled before ever reaching court, but if your case does go to trial, your legal team will work tirelessly to present your case and fight for the compensation you deserve. However, it’s important to remember that going to court can be a lengthy and expensive process.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
The pre-litigation process for filing an injury claim in Georgia is lengthy and often complex. It’s important to have experienced legal guidance, from gathering records and preparing your demand letter to negotiate reductions and settlement processing.
At Dressie Law Firm, our team of experienced injury lawyers will work diligently on your behalf to ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly and promptly, your demand letter is effective, and you can pocket the most of your settlement.
Our team is also here to provide moral and emotional support – we understand that dealing with an injury claim can be a harrowing experience, and you may not always have the energy or mental capacity to complete the paperwork. That’s why our services are fully comprehensive, extending beyond legal guidance and into personal aid.
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in an accident, contact our team today for a free consultation and let us help you fight for the justice you deserve. Our personal injury experts are here to answer any questions about the pre-litigation process in Georgia – don’t wait any longer to get the compensation you need to move forward after your accident.
No matter the circumstances of your injury, Dressie Law Firm is here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Get in touch with us today, and let us fight for you!