Catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawsuits are not your regular personal injury fare, writes GJEL Accident Attorneys‘ managing partner Andy Gillin this month for California Lawyer Magazine. In the “Expert Advice” column, Andy says that more often than not, a lawyer makes or breaks a case in the first 100 days.
“Because the stakes are so much higher in a catastrophic case and immediate action is needed,” Andy continues, “you will likely need to reorganize your practice and devote more time and resources to it” in those initial three months.
The column boils down the most important first steps to investigating early, determining the best possible venue, and resisting an early settlement if your client has a good chance of receiving a higher reward: “Do not give up a $5 million case just to get an easy $15,000 from a defendant’s limited insurance policy.”
All in all, the key to keeping a case organized, writes Andy, is early planning. But at some point, the lawyer must move forward with the case knowing that it will take several months, even years, to collect some of the important information:
Once you have identified approximately 80 percent of the core information, file your case quickly. Ferreting out that last 20 percent of the evidence could take another year or two. Even basic police reports can take many months to complete, and your client can’t afford to lose that time. Catastrophically injured plaintiffs often confront mounting medical debt and ongoing future-care needs. For their sake, justice must move quickly. In most cases, 60 to 100 days should be adequate to gather the most important facts. Keep in mind that while you are investigating, the potential defendants will likely be doing the same thing. Filing promptly will keep you on the offense, sending an important message to the defense that you mean business.
Read the whole piece for more about how Andy handles catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawsuits.