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HOW WE HANDLE YOUR DELAWARE PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM
Since potential clients do not usually know what to expect in the processing of their claims for Delaware personal injuries, we would like to acquaint you with the usual manner in which we handle personal injury cases of your type. We feel this will be helpful to you and ourselves in answering questions that might otherwise arise in your mind when there is not an opportunity for us to immediately answer them for you.
The Initial Conference with a Knepper & Stratton Delaware Personal Injury Lawyer
When you are first interviewed, we obtain general information concerning your Delaware accident and personal injury. Quite often you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire which will be used only by our office. Certain other materials relating to things you should or should not do will be furnished to you. You will be requested to sign certain authorization forms which will allow us to obtain necessary medical and employment information.
Investigation of Your Delaware Personal Injury Case
We will notify the other party’s insurance company that you have retained us as your Delaware personal injury attorneys. Letters will be sent to all physicians and hospitals involved in the case, requesting medical information regarding your injuries. Any police officers who may have been involved will be identified, witnesses will be identified, and if necessary photographs will be taken. Any necessary information from employers, schools or other persons will be requested.
Evaluation of Your Delaware Personal Injury Case
It is important to know that no personal injury case is settled until the damages have all be determined and all investigation has been completed. It generally takes several months to gather the necessary preliminary information. Depending upon your medical condition it may take years to make a determination as to what damages you have sustained. If a trial becomes necessary, it can take several years to complete the case. One of the most difficult requests we must make of you is to have patience. As soon as our investigation is completed and sufficient information obtained, we will make an evaluation of your case, discuss it with you, and attempt to arrive at a proper settlement figure. No settlement figure is ever submitted without first discussing it with you. We will then prepare a settlement package to submit to the insurance company.
Starting a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Delaware Courts
If settlement cannot be reached with the insurance company, we will consider the advisability of filing a lawsuit. In some cases, however, it is important to start a lawsuit as soon as possible. A lawsuit is started by filing with the appropriate Delaware court and serving on the other party a paper called a Complaint, which indicates to that party that they are being sued as a result of the accident. The other party is called a defendant. The defendant takes this paper to his or her insurance company, which delivers it to its lawyers. The lawyers then send us a paper called an Answer and, at this point, the case is at issue. We want to point out that, although a lawsuit may have been started, settlement is always possible and is often made at some point before trial.
Delaware Superior Court Alternative Dispute Resolution ( ADR )
The Delaware Superior Court requires that all personal injury cases undergo Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The default form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is Mediation.
What is a Mediation Hearing? A Mediation Hearing is an attempt to settle your case with the intervention of a neutral person who has received special training in helping adverse parties reach agreements. The Mediation will last anywhere from several hours to all day. At this hearing, you will have an opportunity to tell the other side and the Mediator about the incident which caused your injuries and about how these injuries have affected your life.
Anything that is said by either party at a Mediation is confidential and privileged and cannot be used by or against any party in a Court of law if the Mediation is not successful. Your case will not be settled at a Mediation unless you agree to the settlement. The Mediator cannot force or compel the parties to settle the case.
The Mediator charges an hourly fee for his or her time which is evenly split by the parties
Discovery in Delaware Courts
Once a lawsuit has been started, both sides have the right to obtain information about the case by a process called “Discovery” which consists of depositions “under oath”, written interrogatories (which must be answered under oath), Requests for Production and Requests for Admissions.
A deposition is the testimony of some party or witness given under oath in the presence of attorneys for both plaintiff and defendant, and before a court reporter who takes down the testimony.
Interrogatories are written questions which either attorney may submit, and which have to be answered in writing under oath within 30 days of being served on the applicable party, Plaintiff(s) or Defendant(s).
Requests for Production are written requests for documents in the possession of the other party and must be answered within 30 days of being served on the applicable party, Plaintiff(s) or Defendant(s).
We generally use Interrogatories, Requests for Production, Requests for Admissions and depositions to help us investigate the facts. The defendant’s attorneys also have the right to take testimony, submit interrogatories and request document production. At any time throughout this “Discovery” period, the possibility of settlement may come up again. If anything concrete occurs, we will advise you promptly.
Trial in a Delaware Court
If you case cannot be settled for a fair and reasonable amount of money, we will, with your permission, proceed to trial. The last several weeks before the trial date are spent in detailed preparation of your case. It will be necessary for you to spend several days with our staff in preparation for your trial. You will need to be present at every day of the trial. What is expected of you at trial will be explained to you in detail well in advance of your going to the courthouse. Once again, the vast majority of cases are never tried even though a lawsuit has been started. Often, however, they are not settled until a few weeks or days before the trial date.