More and more personal injury attorneys are hiring legal nurse consultants to assist them with:
1. Decisions about accepting new matters;
2. Pleadings, motions and other legal documents;
3. Settlement packages;
4. Preparing witnesses and
5. Case memos.
Personal injury attorneys learn about the legal system in law school, but they have no medical training. That’s why the best personal injury attorneys work with legal nurse consultants to supplement their understanding of their client’s injuries.
Legal nurse consultants can help personal injury attorneys read between the lines of medical reports and make better choices about what cases to take on, how much to settle cases for, and strategies for trial.
The Importance of the Legal Nurse Consultant Merit Review
The most important decision an attorney makes about a case is whether to take it on at all. That’s because most personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys handle cases on a contingency fee. This means that they risk a substantial amount of money on a case, and only get reimbursed and paid if they are successful. Many personal injury cases start with a retainer for “investigation only,” and only accept the case if the investigation reveals that there was a serious enough injury to merit the investment that must be made to prepare the case for trial. The attorney obtains the medical records from the health care providers, but it’s not always clear what really went on. It might say that there was a “FX L femur,” but not what type of fracture was sustained and what type of treatment was done. More importantly, it’s not easy for an attorney to spot whether the care that was given was typical or unusual. Swinehart Consulting has the experience and knowledge to help you make great intake decisions.
Preparing Pleadings, Motions and Other Trial Documents
Once you decide to take a case, the goal is to prepare it for trial in a way that forces the insurance company to make an offer in order to avoid a trial. The specific pleadings and what they are called differ from state to state, but they all require a detailed explanation of the injuries being claimed and how they were caused by the actions of the defendant. Legal nurse consultants can help personal injury attorneys prepare many of the following types of documents:
● Summons and Complaint
● Bill of Particulars
● Settlement Packages
● Opposition to Motions to Dismiss
● Statements of Merit
For example, for car accident cases, it’s often necessary to meet a “serious injury threshold” and motions to dismiss are often filed after litigation is commenced. Personal injury attorneys must decide whether to accept a pre-suit settlement or risk a motion to dismiss by starting an action. An experienced legal nurse consultant can review the medical evidence to determine whether there is enough to prove the injury is “serious” enough to meet the state’s standard. Based on this review, the attorney can make a decision about whether to accept the insurance company’s pre-suit offer. If the offer is rejected, and a suit is commenced, the legal nurse consultant can assist with drafting the response to a motion to dismiss if it’s filed. In some cases the insurance company acknowledges an injury, but claims that it was pre-existing and not caused by the accident. A legal nurse consultant can review the client’s medical records from before the accident and help the attorney develop a strategy to counter that claim. Swinehart Consulting has the talent and expertise to help personal injury attorneys get the best results for their clients.
Settlement Packages Are Critical To The Success Of A Personal Injury Case
While preparing a case for a possible trial, personal injury attorneys are usually negotiating with the insurance company hoping to get an offer to settle the case. Part of this process is preparing a settlement package for the insurance company to review. Personal injury attorneys are learning that the packages that are prepared by legal nurse consultants are much more effective than those done by secretaries or paralegals. Legal nurse consultants are also much more likely to notice that records are incomplete or missing, ensuring that a settlement package is not lacking evidence that would strengthen the case. The deeper understanding of the injuries and their impact on a person’s ability to work and enjoy life helps maximize the value of a case, prompting insurance companies to make more generous offers more quickly.
Legal Nurse Consultants Assist With Preparing Witnesses
When cases proceed towards trial, health care professionals are retained by a personal injury attorney as experts to testify at trial about the client’s injuries. It’s difficult for attorneys to assess and prepare medical witnesses to testify without a thorough understanding of the following:
● The medical terminology used to describe and treat the injury
● The typical treatment for the injury
● How long treatment for this type of injury usually lasts
● The prospects for full recovery from the injury
● The common permanent deficits from the injury
● The likelihood of extended or permanent disability
Legal nurse consultants are trained medical professionals with the experience and expertise to research and thoroughly understand the consequences of a wide variety of injuries. Personal injury attorneys work with legal nurse consultants to thoroughly prepare witnesses to testify in a manner that will result in the highest possible verdicts from juries.
Legal Nurse Consultants Can Prepare Case Memos For Personal Injury Attorneys
Personal injury attorneys may have more than 100 active cases in their office, making it very difficult to keep up with the treatment status of each case. Secretaries and paralegals request medical records and keep records up to date, but they are usually not able to understand the significance of the medical records that they obtain. That’s why so many personal injury attorneys are turning to legal nurse consultants to manage the medical records for their cases. When records come in, summaries are added to each client’s file that attorneys can quickly retrieve when consulting with clients. These case memos improve the attorney’s relationship with his clients and also help him know when a case might be ready for settlement negotiations. Swinehart Consulting has a team of experienced legal nurse consultants that can help you develop and prosecute your cases to achieve the highest possible settlements and verdicts.