How Long Does a Construction Accident Case Take?
After a construction worker is injured in a construction site accident, a construction accident lawyer should be called immediately. Sometimes an injured construction worker or the construction worker’s family may wait months or longer until the majority of medical treatment is over. But waiting months will delay your construction accident lawsuit and you will start needing money very soon.
Calling a construction accident lawyer immediately will mean your lawsuit will be filed sooner. That will not only get you a settlement faster but will also allow the construction worker to get a larger settlement for more money. An injured construction worker will likely encounter serious financial difficulties and after delays may consider accepting a smaller settlement offer because of the urgent need for money.
When you need money after your construction accident we can get you a lawsuit “loan” (really a cash advance on your future settlement) at the lowest rate available.
A construction accident case in New York often takes many years but it doesn’t have to. If the case is properly handled, it can be moved quickly, forcing the insurance company to offer a much larger settlement or result in a trial years earlier.
How to Speed Up My Construction Accident Case
Send a construction accident expert to the accident site immediately to observe the accident scene before any changes are made (your construction accident lawyer should do this for you). A construction accident expert will provide your attorney with a report of all New York statutes and OSHA violations which contributed to causing your accident.
File suit immediately. Call a construction accident lawyer as soon as you can after your construction accident. Unlike other types of cases, your construction accident lawyer should file a lawsuit immediately because unlike other accidents, the full extent of your injury from your construction accident is immediately known. This means a Bill of Particulars which describes your injuries can be prepared immediately and there is no reason to delay starting a lawsuit.
The lawsuit complaint should indicate the name and address of the injured plaintiff’s employer so the defendant property owner can immediately implead (include) other parties in your lawsuit.
Failure to advise defendants in the complaint of the employer’s name and address will result in a late impleader, possibly even on the eve of trial, which could delay the case for years. This is the best delay tactic the defendant has.
The Bill of Particulars should be prepared and served immediately upon receipt of the defendant’s Answer. Lawyers often wait to file the bill of particulars until the client’s medical treatment has nearly finished and all of the injuries are revealed. Workers injured in construction accidents usually have injuries that are immediately obvious, such as a broken bone, amputation, brain injury or death, and there is no need to wait to file your bill of particulars.
A Preliminary Conference should be requested immediately. Plaintiffs’ lawyers often wait for the defense to request a Preliminary Conference probably to do less work and save the court fee but that can delay your case by several months.
Deposition dates should be entered in the Preliminary Conference Order to be held as soon as possible.
The defendant’s insurance company attorney should never be allowed to enter “as per NY CPLR” in the Preliminary Conference Order in the Impleader paragraph. This will allow the defendant to implead a third-party at any time, even on the eve of trial. No more than 60 days after the completion of depositions should be allowed to implead a third party.
The injured construction worker should testify at a deposition on the date stated in the Preliminary Conference Order even if the defendant is not available to testify. Many lawyers will not allow their client to testify at a deposition unless the defendant testifies on the same day but this can delay your case for many months. In construction accident cases, defendants may be scheduled on different days.
A motion for Summary Judgment on liability should be filed immediately after completion of the plaintiff’s deposition. Summary Judgment in New York will entitle the injured construction worker to 9% interest on any settlement or award after trial or arbitration.
Summary Judgment means you already won liability against the defendant. This prevents the defendant from avoiding any liability at the time of trial and will allow the case to proceed immediately to a trial on damages. Obviously, this will substantially speed up your case and force the defendant’s insurance company to consider paying the entire policy or immediately settling for more money.
Many attorneys are unfamiliar with the procedure for filing the Notice of Entry of Judgment which needs to be filed after winning summary judgment. Particular attention should be paid to this procedure.
Impleader/Severance – If a defendant impleads a third-party later in the case, the plaintiff should move for severance of the trial (separate trials) to avoid substantial delay and prejudice to the plaintiff. Since the construction worker’s employer’s name and address were included in the complaint, the construction site owner and general contractor defendants cannot claim a lack of notice.
Lifecare Plan – We order a lifecare plan early in the case with every construction accident case where there is a serious injury. A lifecare plan will document future medical economic damages and can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars in value to a case. Most attorneys do not utilize lifecare plans without catastrophic injuries and when attorneys order a lifecare plan it is usually later in the case. Ordering the lifecare plan early will push the insurance company to offer the entire policy early on in the case.
Economist – An economist will document future lost income over the lifespan of the construction worker. As with the lifecare plan, retaining an economist early in the case will help to force the insurance company to offer their entire insurance policy early in the case.
Alternative Dispute Resolution – Additional methods to speed up a construction accident case may include mediation or arbitration. These methods are known as alternative dispute resolution and can substantially speed up any case. However, we usually refuse to participate in mediation or arbitration if we have won Summary Judgment which can often happen in a construction accident case. With Summary Judgment, you are entitled to 9% interest on the money the insurance company will have to pay you and we can often obtain the entire policy without resorting to mediation or arbitration.
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Partner Phil Franckel, Esq. talks about difficult cases and the 1-800-HURT-911® Personal Injury Dream Team™