What Happens During the Pre-Litigation Phase of My St. Petersburg Personal Injury Case?

The pre-litigation phase is an essential part of any personal injury case. It involves collecting evidence, building a strong case, and trying to negotiate a settlement without filing a lawsuit. Here’s a look at what happens during this crucial stage.

What Is the Pre-Litigation Phase of a Personal Injury Case?

A substantial amount of work takes place in a St. Petersburg personal injury case before a lawsuit is ever filed. 

Skilled personal injury lawyers – and their staff – work diligently to fully investigate the claim, including gathering accident reports, police notes, photographs, traffic video, witness statements, and other items of evidence that may be crucial to proving fault. Your attorney will also notify the insurance carriers of their representation and determine the scope of coverage and applicable policy limits.

At the same time that your attorney is investigating to prove the other party’s negligence, your legal team also meets with you and your medical providers to understand the full measure of your damages. Your attorney will obtain copies of any ambulance records, emergency room records, treatment records from your primary care physician or other providers, and a full set of your medical bills. 

You may have also missed work, so your attorney will gather payroll records and timesheets. 

Finally, once your personal injury attorney has fully investigated the case, assessed your damages, and located sources of recovery from insurance, they can assist you in attempting to negotiate your personal injury claim with the insurance company directly, using the threat of litigation and filing a lawsuit to drive negotiations. 

It is not uncommon for a St. Petersburg personal injury case to settle without ever having to file suit.

Steps Involved in a Personal Injury Claim in St. Petersburg, FL

Here is a list of the various steps in the pre-litigation phase of a personal injury case: 

Case Investigation

In order to prepare a successful personal injury claim, you must prove that someone else was at fault for your injuries. If your case involves a motor vehicle accident, your attorney will likely contact the police department to obtain a copy of the accident report, police officer’s field notes, and 911 calls. 

The investigation continues by visiting the scene of the accident and speaking with any witnesses. Perhaps there is video, photographs, or electronic evidence documenting the accident. The vehicles may be preserved at a storage facility, where an accident reconstruction expert can review the damage to each of the automobiles. 

The goal is to obtain a clear, detailed picture of the accident to prove the other party (or parties) were at fault.

Gathering Medical Evidence

Florida law requires at-fault parties to pay for any damages you suffered due to your injury. This may include economic damages such as lost wages, past and future medical bills, and other future expenses, like home modifications, in-home treatment, medical devices, and rehabilitation.

Your personal injury attorney will gather evidence of your damages by contacting your various healthcare providers for a full set of your medical records and accident-related medical bills. 

This means signing a medical release, so your attorney can obtain records from any of the following: 

  • Ambulance and EMS
  • Emergency room 
  • Radiology
  • Hospital
  • Primary care
  • Physical therapy 
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Surgery
  • Pain management
  • Home health care
  • Skilled rehabilitation
  • Long-term care

Your attorney will review the records and compile a detailed medical chronology of your injuries, treatment, and expenses.

Demonstrative Exhibits

There are other steps your personal injury lawyer may take to document your injuries that extend beyond what is documented in your medical records, which capture only a fraction of your loss. 

A day-in-the-life video, or videos or photographs, can help the insurance carrier understand how the collision has affected your daily life. You may no longer be able to do things that were enjoyable before, such as activities like sports, hobbies, or being with family. You may no longer be able to navigate your home, or you may live with chronic pain and cannot get a good night’s sleep. Each case is unique and depends on you. 

Consulting Expert Witnesses

Your attorney may involve expert witnesses to assist in preparing your case prior to litigation. 

Experts are hired professionals whose specialties lend expertise to the investigation of your claim, including: 

  • Engineers / accident reconstruction experts to offer an expert opinion on how an accident occurred 
  • Physicians to explain how the accident caused your injuries
  • Economists to document the full extent of your lost wages and diminished earning capacity 
  • Life care planners to prepare a summary of any future medical expenses to recover from your injuries and the costs associated with such treatment

Insurance Negotiations

Once your attorney has investigated the accident, documented your losses, and spoken with any necessary experts, they will attempt to resolve the claim prior to litigation. These pre-litigation negotiations can be informal – trading offers and counter-offers with an insurance adjuster. Alternatively, the parties may agree to involve an out-of-court mediator to help broker a compromise resolution of the claim. 

The potential of a lawsuit (and, with it, the costs of litigation for the insurance carrier), can drive negotiations and help you obtain a recovery without having to go through the process of filing a lawsuit.

A St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You With Your Case

During the pre-litigation phase of your St. Petersburg personal injury case, your attorney will gather evidence to prove fault and document your injuries in anticipation of filing suit or resolving the case. 

It is important that you cooperate with your attorney to assist with these preparations to build a strong case and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement before litigation. Every step is carried out with your best interest in mind, with the goal of fully preparing and investigating your personal injury case to obtain the best possible outcome.

For more information, schedule a free consultation with a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm – Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

Contact a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015