Burnett & Williams specializes in personal injury law, which encompasses many injuries and incidents for which a third party is negligent and legally responsible.
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Our experience is that most people walk into one of our offices feeling wronged and uncertain. Their lives have been seriously disrupted. They are confused about the specifics of the law, uneasy about the legal process, and worried about their options. We understand that. When someone who has been injured calls Burnett & Williams, our first job is to listen to the unique facts of the case. With a handle on the facts, we can explain how the law works and what paths are available to get a satisfactory resolution.
That has always been our approach. We help people through their unexpected difficulties, first by listening and then by carefully applying the law to the specific circumstances of each case. Decades of experience coupled with persuasive advocacy reduce worries for our clients and help them get the compensation they deserve, so they can move on with their lives. It is never a simple process, but we take pride in carefully removing obstacles and making the system work the way it should, every step of the way.
1. Intake and Initial Consultation
Every case begins with us listening to you. When you call our office for the first time, one of our legal assistants will take down all the details of your case for our attorneys to review. Once we decide that we are the right firm to assist you, we will contact you to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, at no cost to you.
In the first meeting, an attorney will gather information about your case and answer any questions you might have about the process. This consultation usually takes one to two hours.
2. Engagement Agreement
After our initial consultation, our firm will send you an Engagement Agreement as well as Authorizations so that we can begin working up your case. Unlike many firms, we allow 14 days for you to review the documents and consider your options before signing it.
3. Case Work-Up
Once we open your case file, Burnett & Williams will contact the insurance companies and notify them of our representation. After that, all contact with the adjusters will be through our office. We then begin investigating every aspect of your case, including the details of the accident and the damages it has caused. We collect all relevant documentation, photographs of the accident scene, and track down any witnesses who might be able to offer testimony of what happened.
In addition, we collect copies of your relevant medical records and bills, and thoroughly analyze each record for important details about your case. A thorough review of all documentation allows us to assess the extent of damages.
Damages can include medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering caused by your injuries. In addition to collecting documentation of your injuries and medical treatment, we will keep in close contact to document and understand all of the intangible damages you are suffering
The investigation stage lasts until you are either completely recovered, or you have reached maximum medical improvement. Then we will begin the settlement negotiation process.
4. Settlement Negotiation
The first step in the negotiation process is the demand package. Our firm puts together all of the materials we have collected in your case and prepares a narrative report for the insurance company that will make you a person in their eyes, rather than a claim number. We work to anticipate any possible defenses, and present the arguments that would be necessary should the case proceed to trial.
Once the insurance adjuster receives the demand package, they will evaluate your claim for approximately one month depending on the complexity of the issues in your case. After the adjuster completes an initial evaluation, they will contact Burnett & Williams to discuss the possibility of settlement. The path of your case is generally determined at that point. The insurer might accept liability for the accident, make an initial settlement offer, or request additional information.
The adjuster and attorney will then begin the process of negotiating a favorable settlement on your behalf. We involve you every step of the way, and never make a demand or accept an offer without first obtaining your approval.
Then to Disbursement or
to Litigation if Necessary
Discovery is the process of each side requesting and producing information which may be relevant to a lawsuit. According to law, certain items must be produced, even if they will not be introduced at trial. At the same time, we will request information from the defendant, further investigating their account of the accident.
6. Mediation / Arbitration
Both mediation and arbitration offer methods of settling a case without going to trial. Since jury trials can be unpredictable, mediation and arbitration can help reach a fair result without the same level of risk.
Mediation is a conference with you, your attorney, the defense attorney, and sometimes an insurance adjuster in front of a retired judge. Each side has an opportunity to present their case, and the mediator works with both sides to encourage compromise and find a resolution to the case. Mediation is not binding, and if both sides cannot reach an agreement, the case can proceed with litigation.
Arbitration is similar to mediation, but the arbitrator makes the decision about what the case is worth and brings the matter to a close. If you agree to the process of arbitration, you must accept the arbitrator’s decision.
Then to Disbursement or
to Trial if Necessary
If your case cannot be settled through alternative mediation/arbitration, it may be necessary to go to trial and have your case heard before a judge and jury. When trial is approaching, the attorney will meet with you to discuss case strategy and the logistics of trial, including what witnesses will be called, exhibits that may be used, and the way trial will likely proceed.
On the day of trial, you and the attorney will go to court and present evidence to the jury to support your case. The evidence usually consists of eyewitness testimony, expert testimony regarding medical treatment and causation, medical illustrations, and testimony from your friends, co-workers, and family. After all evidence has been presented, both attorneys will make closing statements and the judge will give the jury instructions on the law applicable to the case. Then the jury will deliberate and give their verdict.
8. Appeal / Retrial
Either side may appeal a verdict for a number of reasons. In order to pursue an appeal or retrial, our firm may renegotiate our representation agreement with you, or we may refer you to an attorney that specializes in appellate work, depending on the issues involved.
Then to Disbursement
After settlement or verdict has been reached, the insurance carrier will mail a check for the total amount of the settlement to our firm. We will deposit the check into our Trust Account and prepare a disbursement sheet outlining the expenses to be written out of the settlement. The legal assistant or attorney will review the disbursement sheet with you and answer any questions you may have. We will then write checks out of the settlement amount to pay attorney fees, costs advanced, any liens or medical bills, and a check to you of the settlement proceeds.