As a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney, I file lawsuits regularly when the insurance company wrongfully denies a claim or offers an unreasonable amount to settle. In every case, the defendants have insurance and nothing is being sought from them individually or out of pocket. My cases are solely directed toward insurance companies. But, in many situations, people who are served with demand letters from lawyers or even lawsuits have no idea what to do. These individuals were often not at fault for the accident and received no warning from their insurance company. This article is an attempt to provide guidance for those who have been served with a personal injury lawsuit or demand letter in St. Petersburg.
Demand Letters in Personal Injury Cases:
When there is a multiple vehicle accident with injuries, there is a stronger likelihood that multiple lawyers will be involved. I have found that some lawyers (normally not the good ones) immediately send out demand letters to everyone involved. The demand letter accuses every other vehicle of some vague wrongdoing and asks for insurance information. These demand letters spook people even when they’ve done nothing wrong. I recently had a case involving a 6 car pile up. The passenger in the car that caused the pile-up hired a lawyer in Tampa. This lawyer send out demand letters to every person in every other car accusing them of wrongdoing, asking for all kinds of documents and financial information. My clients were stopped at the light and were the 3rd car involved in the pile-up. They did nothing to cause the accident and were just as much victims of the car accident as the passenger whose lawyer sent them the demand. Of course, they were shocked to be receiving such a demand and scared. With a little bit of direction, I was able to inform them to send the demand letter to their insurance company and let them handle it. Nothing came from the demand, but it is an example of what happens after a car accident.
Process Servers in Personal Injury Cases:
It can be unnerving when a process server knocks on your door and hands you a lawsuit. Unfortunately, process servers are not always the most professional people. Process servers can be rude and insensitive, but that is really the nature of their job. People they are trying to serve hide from them, don’t answer the door, and sometimes do all kinds of bizarre things to avoid being served. So, process servers become jaded by dealing with all the nonsense and treat many good people poorly. The lawyers who hire the process servers get a bad rap based on the behavior of the process server. In my office, the lawyers have nothing to do with the service of a lawsuit. I have never met or spoken to a process server on one of my personal injury cases. My staff picks the process server and handles all of the contact. However, I make it clear to my staff that I expect the process servers to be professional at all times. A process server appears to be an agent of the lawyer, so I do not like it when I hear complaints about how the lawsuit was served. However, there is only so much control the law firm has over the process servers. Sometimes you need to hire someone aggressive when the person you are looking to serve can’t be found.
Lawsuits in Personal Injury Cases:
After the service of the lawsuit, a person has 20 days to file an answer. In personal injury cases, there will be an insurance company who is legally obligated to hire you a lawyer and attempt to resolve the claim within the insurance policy limits. It is very important that once you are served, the lawsuit and any other paperwork is immediately sent off to the insurance company. Once that is done, my advice is to not sit around. Call the insurance company regularly to make sure the lawsuit has been assigned to a lawyer and that they know when the 20 days is up. I find that many insurance defense lawyers in personal injury cases don’t get the file until shortly before the answer is due and they scramble to file something. Often, the insurance lawyers don’t even speak to you before they file an answer on your behalf. Imagine how a lawyer could do that, but that is the business of insurance defense law.
Once a Lawyer is Assigned to a Personal Injury Case:
After you have been assigned a lawyer to defend you case, contact that lawyer regularly for updates. Ask for updates regularly to find out what is going on with the case. Since you are not paying the lawyer’s bill, do not feel ashamed to make him or her work. Finally, repeatedly insist to the lawyer that you want the insurance company to pay whatever it takes to settle the case. It is not your money and you should not care what is paid to resolve a claim. You simply want to be out of the lawsuit and protected from personal liability. So, the best way for you to control how the case gets finished is to not encourage your lawyer to fight to the death. Remember, if you lose the lawsuit and the plaintiff gets a judgment more than your insurance policy, then you are on the hook out of pocket. Many people get caught up in the pride over a lawsuit when that should not be a concern for a personal injury defendant. Be honest, admit fault if you have it and encourage your insurance company to pay out enough to settle the case.
If you have received a demand letter or a lawsuit, my office is happy to discuss the next steps and provide any direction needed. Of course, this statement holds true assuming that my office didn’t file the lawsuit! Receiving a demand letter or lawsuit does not need to be a stressful or confusing situation. Hopefully, these tips will provide some degree of assistance in personal injury cases.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, then you should take the proper measures to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas today and speak with an attorney. For over 60 years our firm has been successfully helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s carelessness. We have been nationally ranked for decades by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 law firm, which is the highest ranking that can be received. Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas have dedicated their careers to continuing the firms legacy of superior legal representation.
Remember that we never charge a fee, unless we win. Call us today at 727-381-2300 so that we may answer your questions, help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, and recover the compensation that you deserve.
We work hard to make sure each and every client gets the attention that they deserve. We appreciate feedback from our clients and reviews are validation of our work. Every 5-star review that we receive lets us know that our services were appreciated by our clients.
St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas
5858 Central Ave suite a, St. Petersburg, FL (727) 381-2300
5 out of 5 based on 20 reviews
Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas were voted best personal injury attorneys in Saint Petersburg, Florida for 2019.