Investigation and Preparation of the Case

AuthorEllsworth T. Rundlett III
Chapter 3
Investigation and
Preparation of the Case
§300 In General
§310 Investigating the Claim
§320 Initial Contact With Defendant
§330 Initial Contact With Insurance Company
§340 Obtaining Medical Information
§350 Obtaining Employment Information
§360 File Organization
§370 Processing Small Personal Injury Claims
§380 Enhancing Your Practice With Paralegals
§390 Conclusion
§300 In General
§310 Investigating the Claim
§310.1 Visiting the Scene
§310.2 Police Report
§310.2.1 Sample: Letter to Police Department Requesting Report and Notes
§310.3 Photographs
§310.4 Copies of News Reports
§310.5 Map of the Accident Scene
§310.6 Weather Reports
§310.7 Copies of Repair Bills or Property Damage Estimates
§310.8 Copies of the Reports Filed With the Secretary of State or Motor Vehicle Divisi on
and Parties’ Driving Records
§310.8.1 Sample: Letter to Secretary of State Requesting Report and Driving
§310.9 Credit Report of Potential Defendant
§311 Whether to Obtain an Investigator
§311.1 Factors to Consider in Retaining an Investigator
§312 Importance of Lay Witnesses
§312.1 Interviewing Lay Witnesses
Checklist: Information to Obtain From Lay Witnesses
§312.2 Preserving Statements of Witnesses
§312.3 Statements Taken by the Attorney
§313 Interviewing Official Witnesses
§320 Initial Contact With Defendant
§321 Initial Letters to Potential Defendants
§321.1 Sample: Initial Letter to Auto Accident Defendant
§321.2 Sample: Initial Letter to Uninsured Motorist
§321.3 Sample: Initial Letter to Defendant in Premises Liability Case
§321.4 Sample: Initial Letter to Defendant in Product Liability Case
§330 Initial Contact With Insurance Company
§331 Items to Discuss With the Adjuster in the First Telephone Conference
§332 Representation Letters in Various Types of Cases
§332.1 Sample: Representation Letter for Automobile Accident—Some Liability
§332.2 Automobile Accident—Clear Liability
§332.3 Premises Liability
Sample: Initial Letter to Insurance Company in Premises Liability Case
§332.4 Products Liability
Sample: Initial Insurance Letter in Products Liability Case
§332.5 Sample: Initial Insurance Letter for Uninsured Motorist Case
§340 Obtaining Medical Information
§341 Checklist: Obtaining Medical Information, With Sample Letters
Sample: Letter Requesting Hospital Record
Sample: Letter Requesting Doctor’s Office Notes
Sample: Letter to Doctor Requesting Narrative Report
§341.1 Considerations When Writing to Doctors
§341.2 How to Deal With Improper Comments From a Doctor
§341.3 How to Deal With Doctors Who Charge Excessive Fees for Information
§341.3.1 Reasons Why Doctors Charge Excessive Fees
§341.3.2 Remedies for Excessive Medical Information Charges
§341.3.3 Medical Records—2010
§341.3.4 15 Tips on Obtaining and Sending Medical Records for 2010
§341.3.5 Medical Records—2013
§342 Medical Bills
§342.1 Reasons Why Medical Bill Documentation Is Difficult
§342.2 The Importance of Medical Expense Documentation
§342.3 How to Obtain Proper Medical Expense Documentation
§342.4 Client’s Form for Medical Expense Records
§343 Sample: Instruction Letter to Client
§344 Using and Understanding Medical Records in Small Cases
§344.1 Common Abbreviations and Symbols in Medical Records
§345 Letters of Protection to Doctors and Medical Facilities for Payment of Client’s Medical Bills
§345.1 Checklist for Letters of Protection to Doctors and Other Medical Facilities
§346 Soft Tissue Injuries
§346.1 Client Expectations and Prior History
§346.2 Checklist for Client’s History in a Soft Tissue Case
§346.3 Small to Medium Closed Head Injury Cases
§346.4 Checklist for Small to Medium Head Injury Cases
§346.5 Injuries to the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)
§346.6 Checklist for Temporomandibular Joint Injuries
§346.7 Dealing With Insurance Carrier and Juror Bias Against Soft Tissue Injuries
§346.8 Successful Techniques to Document, Prove, and Maximize Damages in Soft
Tissue Cases
§350 Obtaining Employment Information
§351 Checklist: Lost Wage Information
§352 Sample: Letter to Employer Requesting Lost Wage Information
§353 Client’s Employment Records
§354 Loss of Income From Self-Employment
§354.1 How to Document Loss of Income for Self-Employed Persons
§360 File Organization
§360.1 File Organization Example: The Telephone Negotiation Conference
§361 Checklist of File Headings
§361.1 Outside Cover
§361.2 Inside Cover Information
§361.3 Correspondence
§361.4 Medical Bills
§361.5 Medical Reports
§361.6 Authorization Forms
§361.7 Contingent Fee Agreement
§361.8 Police Reports, Incident Reports and Secretary of State Reports
§361.9 Other Witness Statements
§361.10 Photographs
§361.11 Disbursements
§361.12 Liens and Subrogations
§361.13 Wage Information and Tax Returns
§361.14 Property Damage
§361.15 Notes and Client Intake Forms
§370 Processing Small Personal Injury Claims
§371 Timetable
§372 Timetable Checklist
§373 The Seven Most Common Ethical Problems in Small to Medium Personal Injury Cases
§374 The Role of Computers in the Small to Medium Personal Injury Practice
§374.1 Case Management
§374.2 Tracking Medical Bills
§374.3 Tracking Medical Records and Other Information Requests
§374.3.1 A Word About Viruses
§374.4 Using Graphic Images
§374.5 The Internet
§374.6 Client Communications
§374.7 Valuing Structured Settlements
§374.8 Summary
§380 Enhancing Your Practice With Paralegals
§380.1 The Paralegal’s Duties at the Initial Stages of a Case
§380.2 Paralegal Duties During Processing of the Case
§380.3 Paralegal Assistance During Settlement Negotiation
§380.4 Paralegal Assistance in Litigation
§380.5 Online Sources for Paralegal Investigation and Discovery Work
§380.6 Ethical Problems With Paralegals and Secretaries
§380.6.1 Ethical Guidelines for Non-Lawyer Staff, Paralegals and Secretaries
§390 Conclusion

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