US Bodily Injury News
TMA BI Team’s Attorney Reporting Guidelines…how they help Club Members
As is often noted in the BI News, injury cases in the United States are some of the most financially volatile cases the Club deals with. They are also often cases which can be filed and served up to three years after the incident.
significant impact on the MLO of a case and defense counsel are expected to consider them when preparing the litigation budget
Linda Wright Claims Executive
In an effort to monitor and minimize claim and fee reserves for UK Club bodily injury cases, Thomas Miller Americas’ Bodily Injury Team developed attorney reporting guidelines that are specific to bodily injury (BI) cases brought in the US.Th
ey work in conjunction with the Club’s overallValue for Money (VfM) Program. In accepting an assignment of a case, attorneys – who are appointed because of their experience in handling bodily injury matters - are required to follow these guidelines.
The basis for determining claim and fee estimates is the most likely financial outcome (MLO) of the case.Th
e MLO is a combination of claim expenses, including, for example, maintenance and cure and unearned wages, the forum where the lawsuit is pending as well as the likely settlement value of the case. It also includes other financial costs such as prejudgment interest on a potential jury verdict.
Legal fees and costs, including expert witness fees also factor into the overall MLO of any case. For example, some plaintiff attorneys are known to settle early. In others, plaintiff attorneys insist that the defendant shipowner or employer bear the financial cost of working up their entire defense case to ensure the defendant fully understands plaintiff ’s case before any settlement discussions will be considered. Still, others will only settle on the court house steps. Clearly, these factors have a
Counsel is initially required to provide a detailed preliminary case assessment report within the first thirty days of the case assignment. The initial case assessment must include, among other things, a detailed preliminary budget and case strategies for handling the matter. Although significant developments such as trial dates, mediation dates, and motion dates are required to be reported promptly, updated status reports are to be sent at a minimum of every ninety days thereafter.
To ensure that the case progress is recorded on a timely basis, defense counsel are also required to complete a checklist with each report.Th
e checklist identifies specific tasks, for example jurisdictional motions, plaintiff ’s deposition, defense vocational rehabilitation expert reports, during particular stages of litigation and requires counsel to report the date when each task is completed. The result is that every 90 days a comprehensive report and updated timeline are prepared. This helps keep the attorney on track and the Member and Club updated on a regular basis.
To assist the Club and the Member in determining the MLO, counsel are required to prepare their reports using specific headings including an update on fees/costs paid to date versus the budget; procedural status; factual background and discovery; plaintiff ’s theories of liability; defenses; plaintiff ’s damages; and recommended further handling. Attorneys are also required to address the recommended claim/settlement estimate in each report because every case, regardless of the state of litigation, has a settlement value. The guidelines make clear that it is the attorney’s job to resolve all BI cases expeditiously, economically and efficiently.
Counsel is required to review and update the
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