Omaha Personal Injury Lawyer
You have suffered a loss and you need assistance. Once you have placed your claim in our hands, we will strive to get a fair and successful result for you.
Clients, particularly those that have never worked with a lawyer before, often feel uncomfortable, or even guilty about making a valid claim. There is nothing to feel uncomfortable or guilty about. Your claim is nothing more that a good faith dispute with the person responsible for your injuries and that person's insurance company. By asserting a claim through the legal system, you are seeking a fair settlement of that dispute. Our civil legal system was developed for that very reason.
While many claims can be resolved between the client and the insurance company directly, many people prefer to have an attorney handle the claim to make sure that the insurance company isn't taking advantage of them. The insurance industry hires professional claims adjusters and lawyers to look out for the interest of the insurance companies and their insureds. Although most insurance adjusters are honest, professional individuals, their job is to convince you to accept as little money as possible for your claim. They are not in the business of looking after your best interest.
HOW DO WE HANDLE INJURY CLAIMS?
It is important that you understand how Kellogg & Palzer, P.C. generally handles claims. First, we handle personal injury cases on a contingent basis. This means that no fee is due if we are unable to get a recovery for you.
Keep in mind that each client is a unique individual, and each claim is different. As a result, different procedures will often be used with regard to different claims. Keeping that in mind, the following is a general review of the steps that will most likely be taken in your claim.
(1) Beginning of Claim: At the time of your initial interview, you will meet with us to determine if you have a viable claim. You will be asked to sign a fee agreement with our law firm and medical release forms authorizing your medical providers to provide us with copies of your medical records.
Kellogg & Palzer, P.C., has two attorneys on staff, John H. Kellogg, Jr. and Jeffrey T. Palzer, to handle claims. Unlike some law firms where your claim is handled by a legal assistant, paralegal, or law clerk, at our firm, your claim is handled only by an attorney authorized to practice law in the State of Nebraska. Although we may have staff assist with the preparation of documents or investigation, your claim is always under the direct control of an attorney.
(2) Information Gathering: After we have obtained the basic facts of your case from you, we will inform the insurance company that we represent you and then begin the process of gathering any additional information we need to fully understand your claim. If there has been an automobile accident, we will obtain a copy of the police report. If there are witnesses, we may contact the witnesses and obtain statements from them. If you have been to a doctor or a hospital, with your authorization, we will obtain copies of the documents we need to prove your wage loss, medical expenses and other out-of-pocket losses.
(3) Handling the Paperwork: We will help you with the paperwork needed to get your medical bills paid by your auto or health insurance company, and your automobile repaired.
(4) Analysis and Evaluation: It is impossible to arrive at a suggested reasonable amount of compensation for your injuries when we first meet with you. We need all of the information on your accident and your injuries before we can analyze and evaluate your claim. We cannot accurately determine the full extent of your injuries until you are "medically stationary." You are "medically stationary" when you have fully recovered from your injuries or your physician has determined that your medical condition will not get any better or worse in the foreseeable future.
(5) Settlement Negotiations: Generally, we begin settlement negotiations by presenting the opposing insurance company or opposing attorney with a written "Demand Packet." The Demand Packet will contain copies of your medical records, medical bills, wage loss documents, and any other documents that are needed to prove your claim. Settlement negotiations may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on the size and complexity of your case. We will give you updates on the progress of settlement negotiations. We will not settle your claim without your authorization to do so.
(6) Filing a Lawsuit: If the responsible party does not promptly respond to our settlement offer, or is unwilling to pay a fair settlement, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. In some cases, it will be appropriate to file your lawsuit before we begin settlement negotiations. For example, in Nebraska, most personal injury claims must be filed within four years of the date of the accident. If the client does not hire us until the last minute, or is not medically stationary by the four year deadline, we must file the lawsuit or the client may lose his or her rights. On other occasions, we will file a lawsuit before beginning settlement negotiations when the responsible party indicates that they are not willing to talk seriously about settlement. The prompt filing of a lawsuit prevents unreasonable delays by parties who are unwilling to negotiate a fair settlement.
(7) Trial and Settlement: We handle all claims as if they would go all the way to trial. However, experience show that over ninety percent of all lawsuits filed in court settle prior to the actual trial. Often, the responsible parties will not pay a fair settlement until "discovery" has been completed and a firm trial date has been set. "Discovery" is the formal process by which the attorneys for both parties in the lawsuit go about gathering information about your claim and any defenses the defendant may raise against your claim. As part of the "discovery" process, you may be required to produce documents or to give a sworn statement (called a deposition) to the opposing party's attorney. The attorney handling your claim will thoroughly prepare you for your deposition and will be at your deposition to protect your rights. After the discovery process is completed, the responsible parties will often re-evaluate their positions and make additional settlement offers. If they are unwilling to pay a fair settlement, we will go to trial to protect your rights.
(8) Payment of Recovery: If we are able to obtain a recovery on your behalf, either through settlement or at trial, it will usually take several weeks before you actually receive any money. Typically, once a case has been settled or resolved at trial, the attorney for the opposing party to its insurance company will draft the legal papers needed to conclude the claim and will send the papers, along with a claims draft to our office. You will be asked to come to our office to sign the documents and the claims draft. Once you have signed the necessary documents, the claims draft will be deposited into our client trust account and legal documents will be returned to the defendant's insurance company or filed with the court. Once the claim draft has cleared the bank, the "net proceeds" of your recovery will be paid to you. The "net proceeds" of your recovery will be the total amount of the recovery minus attorneys' fees, costs, and any outstanding liens and medical bills which must be paid out of the proceeds of your recovery. You will be provided with a written statement from us containing an itemization of all amounts that have been paid out of your recovery.
WHAT WE NEED FROM YOU, THE CLIENT
In order for us to effectively represent you, we need your cooperation and support. By working closely with us, you can be assured that we will get all the information we need to present your claim in the most favorable light. These are the things that we need and expect from you:
(1) Total Truthfulness: It is imperative that you share with us anything that might be relevant to your claim including any facts which you may consider potentially harmful to your case so that we may effectively deal with those facts.
(2) Cooperation With Your Doctor. Your primary job is to recover from your injuries. You should follow your doctor's instructions and return for treatment as often as necessary.
(3) Assistance in Gathering Evidence. There are several things which you can do to help us gather the proof we need to present your claim:
(a) Witnesses: Furnish us with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of any and all witnesses. Keep a record of them. As other witnesses become known to you, promptly furnish us that information;
(b) Photographs: Photographs of your injuries, the accident scene, or the damage to the vehicles involved in your accident are extremely helpful. Over time, injuries heal, accident scenes are changed and property damage is repaired. Photographs taken at or near the time of the accident are often our best proof. Therefore, if you have any photographs of your injuries, the accident scene, or the damage to the vehicles involved in your accident, give us both the photographs and the negatives;
(c) Medical bills and expenses: Provide us with copies of all medical, hospital and prescription medication bills for the treatment of the injuries you suffered in your accident. Keep accurate records of your mileage to and from the doctor, the hospital, the physical therapist and any other medical treatments. Keep a record of any other expenses you may have resulting from your accident. All bills should be paid by check or you should obtain and keep receipts for the bills. Periodically, you should forward all receipts and other proof of expenses to us;
(d) Lost wages and benefits: Keep an accurate record of all days lost from work as a result of your injuries. Keep a record of sick leave or vacation time taken as a result of the accident. Provide us with copies of your pay stubs for several months before your accident so that we can establish what you were earning at the time of your accident.
(e) Save anything that will help us with your claim: If your injuries require casts, braces, traction or other devices, save them. They may be important evidence. Save anything that will help us present your case. Let us know what you have and keep them until your claim is over.
(4) Don't Discuss Your Claims With Others. Anything you say to others about your claim could be used against you if your case goes to trial. Therefore, with the exception of your immediate family members, your treating doctors and members of our law firm, do not discuss your claim with anybody. Always require identification from anyone who is asking you questions about your claim. Do not talk with the insurance company for the party responsible for your accident.
(5) Address and Telephone Changes. It is crucial that we always have your correct address and telephone number. If you move or change phone numbers, inform us immediately (preferably before you move) of your new address and phone number. If you are going to be away from your home for more that a week (e.g. vacation, business trip), give us a phone number where you can be reached.
(6) Appointments. If you need to see one of our attorneys, please call for an appointment before coming in to the office. We have busy schedules and it is often impossible to see you without an appointment.
(7) Telephone Calls/Emails. We want you to know exactly what is going on with your claim. Whenever you have any questions about your claim, call the office or email the attorney handling your claim. You are not "bothering us" by calling or emailing. If we are unavailable when you call, leave your name, phone number, and a time when you can be reached with the receptionist. Your call will be returned as soon as possible.
WHO IS MY LAWYER?
You have hired Kellogg & Palzer, P.C. to represent you on your claim. This means that both John H. Kellogg, Jr. and Jeffrey T. Palzer are your attorneys. At any time, one or both of your attorneys may be actively involved in the pursuit of your claim. We believe in a team approach instead of just having one person handle your claim. We feel that this gives us a better depth in both investigation and evaluation and decreases the chance that any important fact is missed.