Rapid RESOLUTION To Catastrophic Accidents (Part I)
Sorry about missing the blog post for last week, but I was out of state attempting to resolve a catastrophic accident only a few weeks following the incident. Obviously, I cannot go into the details of the case, but I wanted to share some ideas and practical bullet points to assist you in resolving these kind of cases, if possible.
Let’s face it, when a big truck is involved, the injuries are potentially devastating. Obviously, fatal accidents involve intensely raw emotions, but companies who care will reach out early with a genuine and authentic attitude to help the family to begin the process of closure.
Timing and Sensitivity are of paramount importance. You can’t expect the family to make major life decisions in the early stages of grief. On the other hand, you must gather essential facts and as much background information on everyone involved.
Keep a realistic, unemotional approach to what the case is worth; however, BE GENUINELY SYMPATHETIC. How would you feel if your wife, son, sister or father were killed in an accident?
The following is not an exclusive list of what to do, but it is certainly a great start:
1. Reach out to the pastor or priest for the family, and use them to assist in communicating to the family, as this has been a good resource in the past. Even if the clergyman can get in contact with someone close to the family to speak to you, (if the immediate family won’t) it’s worth a shot.
2. Paying for a funeral expenses or grief counselling are always good gestures. John Spiros of Roehl Transportation says: “We have paid funeral expenses and offered to pay any other bills that may need paying to reduce the stress from the plaintiff.”
3. A company representative (even if the person is not with the company) going to the hospital or trying to make contact with the family as soon as possible. Be careful there those who think this was very thoughtful, while others felt it was bothersome. Spiros goes on to say:
“Nothing against attorneys, but the best resolution is made with the plaintiff and the company official meeting in a room without attorneys. The company official really has to be the type that can show sympathy and be empathetic wholly! “
There is no reason to start a battle between lawyers too soon. Advise your client, but let the client negotiate the early resolution process. Sometimes your client may want you to be at an early conference, but if so, you MUST be thoughtful, kind, compassionate and NON-argumentative.
5. A proposal to pay legal fees to for someone to else to evaluate the settlement should only be used when you have suggested a very fair settlement number and the plaintiff needs the opportunity to review this with another attorney.
6. Finally, I quick point on the driver giving a statement: An attorney should take an UNRECORDED interview of the driver at the scene or right after. Tell your drivers to inform law enforcement that they will give a statement after the attorney arrives. Spiros says “This has helped is in 99% of the times we used it, and of course there is always that 1% of officers who think they are larger than the law!”
Next week, I will share some practical bullet points/list to have available in a rapid resolution. In the meantime, if there is anything I can do for you in North Louisiana or Northeast Texas, feel free to call me day or night.
Perkins & Associates, LLC