The initial file review of a case is absolutely critical in bringing out the key issues of a case. Reviewing different forms and documents and putting together a summary will highlight the strongest points of your case. The case can be one that is related to personal injury, or immigration laws, or contract laws, or mergers and acquisitions or real estate laws. TLB has a dedicated team that works on the initial file reviews of the case to guide you on your case from the beginning. The team is capable of letting you know if you should go ahead with the case or not.
Few steps to ensure that the review done is of good quality
It is advisable to put notes pertaining to the review in a file first. This will help to build the case and another good reason to do this would be to key in on any issue that needs to be addressed right away with client, priors, liability problems, contributory negligence and to determine if an attorney needs to get involved at this stage. There is no right or wrong way to do an initial summary of a case, but it should be clear so anyone picking up the file has a quick idea of what’s going on in the case. A good file review should include all the injuries, accident, liabilities, coverage reviews, issues, potential defendants and anything else that would be necessary or helpful to make the case strong. This helps the attorney to know where the case is heading. They can find out from this info also if a plaintiff is treating the injuries well and that the med stats are up to date.
Gathering all the relevant info
The client info is taken from the intakes, notes, the retainer agreements, and from other forms and applications. For multiple clients, the same method is used but it needs to be ensured that all potential clients are identified. When there is more than one plaintiff and one plaintiff is operator and another plaintiff is a passenger, there are sometimes some letters that needs to sign that discharges obligation by the passenger plaintiff, so that needs to be highlighted. If the file has been taken over from a prior attorney a consent letter should be signed and should be available in the file. The info from the prior attorney’s file should be incorporated too.
Identifying types of cases:
If it is a personal injury case, then it is important to note what type of case is it? E.g., if its a motor vehicle accident, or a pedestrian accident, or a bicycle accident or just a slip and fall. If it is a workers compensation case, then we need to highlight the same because the accident must have happened on job. The question generally is whether the client was during the course of her job or was traveling to work, etc., and these needs to be noted. If it is social security disability case, then all the info around the social security of the client must be gathered and included in the note. It is also important to note who the defendant is, i.e., if it is an institution, or an individual or municipality/government. The value of settlement is decided accordingly.
If it a case on trusts and will, then it is pertinent to find out all the details of the beneficiaries and the heirs. Laws are in place to make sure that one can arrange the trusts in many specific ways so that the beneficiaries are benefitted in the most appropriate ways, so it is important to make a summary of the case before drafting the relevant documents.
If it is related to contracts or mergers & acquisition, doing a file review that would include due diligence would be also beneficial to the attorneys and paralegals.
Statute of Limitations (SOL)
Statute of Limitations (SOL) is critical to confirm and the timelines pertaining to the filing of documents are extremely important to note.
List party and witness statements and photos
Identifying the witnesses to a case is one important in the checklist. Mostly the police report and the clients themselves will give this info but all other documents should be looked at too to note the list of witnesses. Documents should be thoroughly read to note if photos were taken and if they are not available then it is important to collate them and file them.
Everything at the end depends on the coverage part. Confirmation of coverage mainly happens is from two main sources, via phone from the insurance company and via Letter from Insurance carrier. If letter from the actual insurance company rather than a third-party claims administrator hired by the insurance company, then that needs to be noted.
TLB has a team of attorneys, who can write file reviews or initial file summaries to guide you to the best results for your case. The team has worked on case summaries, demand letters and file summaries for many law firms across US and have gathered experience where they can advise if a case is good to be retained or not.