There is no one-size-fits-all answer here. It depends on sensitively on the details of your case, the tactical moves that the insurance company makes, and many other factors. It is all about devising and executing a plan to maximize your recovery by developing your case.
Although each case is different in this regard, an experienced lawyer will know how to time this right. In some cases, you may want to sue immediately to catch Goliath off guard and to exercise subpoena powers and discovery. In other cases, you may want to take your time and do a lot of legal spadework and research before taking action to court. In yet other cases, it is worthwhile to change up your timing as you go along. Although your lawyer will advise you, ultimately the decision to act (or not) is yours to make. We believe the Gartlan Injury Law Personal Injury Blog is a valuable learning and teaching resource. However, you must discuss and address these issues with your personal injury lawyer in the context of the facts and circumstances of your case. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you.
Each case should be evaluated from the very beginning. Some cases you are not going to file a lawsuit, such as the average automobile wreck. Other cases require filing a lawsuit, like commercial trucking cases, serious automobile and motorcycle wrecks, industrial injury and accident cases, and product liability cases where there is potentially a lot of money involved because the injury and damages are substantial and significant. For instance, in a wrongful death or automobile wreck case where there is are serious injuries which require multiple surgeries, a prolonged time out of work and an abundance of lost income and wages, there is potentially a large sum of money at stake. Those are cases in which you are typically going to file a lawsuit in the very beginning to invoke the subpoena and discovery power of the court.
I will now give some examples of cases where lawsuits are not filed initially. I have handled many cases over the years where the liability is clear. In other words, there is no dispute over who is at fault in the wreck. The insurance company accepts liability from the very beginning and the only question is the amount of the damages. In most of these cases, you are dealing with emergency room bills, radiology bills, physician bills, doctor visits, physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, counseling and lost wages. Most of the time, we are able to gather everything, demonstrate to the insurance company the liability, injuries and damages, and overcome defenses and settle without filing a lawsuit in these cases. However, there are times in those cases when, for whatever reason, the insurance company will not offer the right amount to settle the case until a lawsuit is filed. There are also times when even after that process, they will not offer the right amount and you actually have to take the case to trial. Before making that decision, the facts need to be evaluated and discussed and a decision to be made under the advisement of your personal injury and accident lawyer and law firm.
Aaron Gartlan is a graduate of Troy University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law who focuses his practice exclusively on representing those injured by the wrongdoing of others. He is member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In addition to his legal practice, Aaron teaches Business Law as an adjunct instructor at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business and serves as a field artillery sergeant in the Alabama National Guard.