Once we accept a case our team of bed bug lawyers and assistants take many steps to gather evidence and present a claim to maximize our client’s recovery. Since all cases are not the same, we rarely follow the same procedures in the handling of claims. Some cases resolve within a few months and others require a lawsuit to be filed, along with several years of litigation. The length of time to resolve a bed bug claim depends on many factors; some of which are outside of our control.
Generally we take the following steps once we have been hired by a client.
Determine the negligent party: Conduct a thorough investigation to determine the proper name and business address of the negligent business or property owner(s).
Send letters of representation to the appropriate parties: The letter of representation is a letter which instructs the negligent party to preserve any all evidence related to the claim, not communicate with our client, put their insurance carrier on notice of the claim or provide us with their insurance carrier’s contact information. In most circumstances the business owner will put their insurance carrier on notice of the claim immediately. Once the insurance carrier receives notice of the claim, an estimated 2 to 6 weeks later an adjuster from the insurance carrier will contact our office with a claim number and a copy of the insurance policy. On some cases the adjuster will request a recorded or non-recorded statement of our client. The statement is not mandatory and it is at the client’s complete discretion to participate. The purpose of the statement is to hear the client’s side of the story as to what happened. We will prepare our client for the likely questions in such an interview, and determine if an interview is appropriate for the claim.
File review: We are continually reviewing client files to make sure we have all of the necessary documentation to present the claim to the business owner or their insurance carrier. A complete file contains the following:
1. All Medical records and bills related to the claim.
2. A time line/narrative of all the events related to your bed bug claim. The narrative should describe all the events related to your claim. Include the names of people you spoke with, important dates, medical treatment received and anything else you think is important and related to your claim. It is generally reviewed by our nurse practitioners prior to submission.
3. Photographs and/or videos of the bites. It is important for clients to continue taking photos or videos of their bites in order to document the progression of injuries.
4. Copies of any and all receipts for prescriptions, discarded clothing, extermination invoices, furniture receipts, and etc.
5. Copies of other important documents. For example: invoices, credit card bills, leases or statements related to your claim.
6. Copy of the incident report or Department of Health report (if applicable).
7. If you have lost any wages or time from work as result of your injuries a letter from your employer stating the dates you missed from work and a letter from your medical provider supporting the missed time must be provided. Our financial consultants will work with you on this as needed.
The process of reviewing a file to determine whether or not it is complete can take as little as 4 to 6 weeks or many months depending on the complexity of the claim. The faster you provide our office with the requested documents, the sooner we are able to present your claim to the business owner/insurance carrier and commence settlement discussions.
Demand Package: Once a file is determined to be complete, one of our bed bug attorneys will review all of the evidence in your file and draft a demand letter. A demand letter is a letter whereby we present the relevant evidence, legal theories and demand a certain sum of money to resolve your case. Once complete, the attorney submits the demand letter, along with supporting documentation to the business owner or their insurance carrier. It generally takes the business owner/insurance carrier 4 to 8 weeks to review the demand package and present an offer. Sometimes the business owner/insurance carrier will request additional time to respond or additional supporting documentation in evaluation of the claim. We will determine if we will grant such a request.
Settlement Negotiations: We must reiterate every bed bug claim is different. Some business owners/insurance carriers will go through multiple rounds of settlement discussions and others will make no offer at all. If a settlement is reached which satisfies our client, the case comes to an end. Generally, a case will resolve within 30 to 90 days after settlement negotiations commence.
Filing of a lawsuit: The majority of bed bug cases resolve without the need for filing a lawsuit. In the event a settlement is not reached, it is a joint decision between you and your attorney as to whether or not a lawsuit will be filed. The litigation process can take anywhere from 6 months to a few years. Time frames are set by the presiding judge and local rules of civil procedure.
All of the above time-frames are provided as estimates in order to provide you with a better understanding of what to reasonably expect. If you have any additional questions please post a comment below or email the attorney assigned to your case.