Interviewer: How long do you see the process for a case like the one you described take to resolve?
Claims for Less Than $50,000 Are Assigned to Arbitration and Can Be Resolved within 6 Months
Daniel Hoarfrost: Again, it’s a little hard to predict, although if the case is for less than $50,000, it will be assigned to arbitration by the court system. Arbitration can be a benefit to the plaintiff because the process tends to move more quickly. The court likes to see it resolved within six months, so it’s a little bit of an abbreviated process.
Cases Going to Trial May Take a Year or More to Be Resolved
If the case requires a full-blown jury trial, it usually takes about a year to get to trial. The court tries to impose a trial limit, basically, and wants to see it resolved within a year unless there are good reasons not to. It usually takes at least that full year.
Interviewer: With the case you mentioned, how soon after the accident was it that they contacted you?
Daniel Hoarfrost: This one, I believe they called within actually a couple of months of the accident.
It Is Not Uncommon for People Injured in an Auto Accident to Delay Contacting an Attorney
Interviewer: What did they do during that time before that happened? Were they reluctant to hire an attorney?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Yes. Frequently people are resistant to that idea. They are concerned that it’s going to be a big drawn-out system and end up costing them a lot of money. They don’t look into that right away. But when they find that they’re not getting fair treatment from the opposing insurance company, they call an attorney.
Frequently, people concentrate their efforts on the medical side of it, seeing doctors and going through treatment. That actually is a good thing to do. People need to get, the first step in the situation is to get appropriate medical care and try to resolve the injuries as best they can.
What Information Will Your Attorney Need?
Interviewer: What sort of information did you ask theses client for when they met with you?
Daniel Hoarfrost: The main thing we need to know is what happened. Frequently there’s an accident report. That’s always handy to bring along. It helps identify the parties and establish the facts. Infrequently, there’s a police report, which you really don’t see that often anymore.
That’s certainly something that you ought to get hold of, although the attorney can order it later. It doesn’t have to be available at the first meeting. Basically, what you need to know is to be able to identify the parties, find out the insurance companies that are involved, and just to be able to establish the lines of communication.
It Is Advisable to Take Your Own Photographs of an Accident Scene
Interviewer: Are there any cases where someone photographs the scene and it is beneficial?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Any picture is worth a thousand words. It is always advisable to have photos of both of the vehicles that were involved and basically anything related to the claim.
Interviewer: Have you had any recent cases that had to deal with photographic evidence?
Daniel Hoarfrost: Virtually every case that goes to trial includes photographic evidence. This is because photos help people clarify in their minds what went on.