Why does my case take so long???
Why does my case take so long?
There are two questions that personal injury attorneys invariably hear during the life-cycle of a case: 1) do I have a good case? at the beginning, and later on 2) why is my case taking so long? Today, let’s look at the latter question.
Personal injury cases start with an injury, whether you engage an attorney the next day or the next year. The most important thing to any accident victim is to get good medical care. Some people go to urgent care clinics or hospitals, some go to see their primary doctors, and still others see specialists like chiropractors and orthopaedists. It doesn’t matter where the person goes, or for how long, but each and every visit becomes a part of the client’s medical record. That record is a living document, that continues to expand with each visit, treatment, phone call, and referral. The longer the care, and the higher the number of providers, equals a larger medical record.
A lawyer’s first job in evaluating a case after he has been retained is investigating that case, and a large portion of that investigation comes from obtaining the client’s medical record. This task is primarily assigned to staff personnel, usually a paralegal or investigator. That person will send out for copies of records, bills, reports, charts, x-rays, MRIs, blood tests, etc. Each doctor’s office and hospital has a different procedure for getting those bills, and the staff people have to know them all, and work with the providers. Some times those records come in chunks, and have to be assembled, ordered, and read.
This process takes time, because many times the law firm’s first request is not the only one. Hospitals have huge numbers of patients, and will process requests in the order received.
Gathering together this massive array of medical records (what insurance companies call “specials”) takes time, usually a few months. More to the point, if a client is still in active treatment, the staff must keep sending for updated records. The longer a client is a patient, the longer the case will take to evaluate.
During the investigation of the case, a client will usually speak to a staff member, and not the lawyer himself. The reason for this is not that the lawyer is neglecting the client or is disinterested, it is due to specialization. Investigators and paralegals specialize in collating data, analysis, and investigations. Once they have complete their work, they forward everything on to the lawyer, who then contacts the client.
Attorney Joseph Blaszkow always takes the time to explain the process to clients when they come into the office. He understands how frustrating it feels for clients to see weeks passing and then to think that nothing is happening. By explaining the process, he helps to alleviate that frustration and keep clients informed.
At the end of the day, there is no hard and fast measurement, such as car accidents take X months, and slips and falls take Y. Each case is dealt with based on its own circumstances, but at least now, you the reader have a little better understanding of why things seem to drag on. Always rest assured, work is being done, but that work is simply behind the scenes.