A claims handler can significantly curtail pre-litigation costs by performing basic document retrieval herself. Building the case file beyond what is provided by the insured requires diligent requests to law enforcement and state agencies. While time-consuming, such requests do not require legal expertise and can be handled by an adjuster. In this second part of our five part series on easy ways to lower your litigation costs, we look at three simple tasks commonly and unnecessarily delegated to a law firm. Make sure you check back next week for three more tips on how to lower your litigation costs.
1. Public Information Act requests to state agencies:
The attorney will need everything the state has on the incident and the individuals involved. This includes police records, 911 records, dash cam videos, etc. Most records are publically available through a written request. However, such requests are time-consuming. With a little organization, an adjuster can save hours of work by a paralegal (and possibly an attorney) by requesting records herself.
2. Request the driver's certified driving records:
Especially important in motor vehicle accidents is obtaining all of a driver's certified driving records. This is another crucial, but time-consuming, task. A clean driving record for your insured, or a bad driving record for the claimant, may make a significant impact during the litigation process.
3. Perform a background check on the Plaintiff:
There is no such thing as a perfect background check, but online databases have increased their effectiveness. Subscribing to a service such as Westlaw or LexisNexis can cheaply and easily allow an adjuster to run her own background searches.
If the claims professional on one of our recent cases had completed these three simple tasks, she or he would have saved $1,131.00. This may not sound like much, but extrapolate that savings across 100 claims she or he is currently working and suddenly they have saved their company $113,100.00. Would these tips work in your office?
Mike H. Bassett is a Senior Partner at The Bassett Firm. Mr. Bassett's practice focuses on Insurance Defense, Transportation Litigation, Products liability, Premises Liability, and Employment Litigation. He received his B.B.A from the University of Texas El Paso in 1984 and his J.D. with distinction from St. Mary's School of Law in 1987. Mr. Bassett was voted a Texas Super Lawyer in 2006.
R.G. Bradshaw Hawkins is a Law Clerk at The Bassett Firm. Mr. Hawkins received his undergraduate degree with honours from University of St. Andrews, Scotland, and is in his second year at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law in Dallas, Texas.