I thought it would be interesting to follow two cases we are handling from start to finish. Obviously, we will describe the cases anonymously, but the details will give you an idea of the process.
Last week, we were employed by two different clients. In one case, the husband and wife were involved in a car wreck. By the way, you will see that we do not use the term "accident". We use "wreck", "crash", and "collision". The wreck is not an accident. It is the result of another driver failing to pay attention by choice. These clients were referred by a former client who has since gone to law school and become an attorney himself.
The second case involves fraud and misrepresentation. Our client purchased a car which had been bought back by the manufacturer in California under the California Lemon Law. He bought the "pre-owned" car in Alabama. "Pre-owned", as we all know, is the fancy term for "used". When he bought it in Alabama, the title is supposed to be branded with the phrase: "THIS VEHICLE WAS RETURNED TO THE MANUFACTURER BECAUSE IT DID NOT CONFORM TO ITS WARRANTY." Well, it wasn’t. Not only that, there are more facts which I will discuss in a future post. This client was referred by another attorney.
Both clients came into our office in downtown Birmingham, Alabama and met with me to discuss their cases. I spent about thirty minutes to an hour with each. With respect to the collision case, we discussed the facts of the collision (they were rear-ended by another vehicle), the injuries suffered by the husband and wife, their medical treatment, their medical history, their insurance information, the damage to their vehicle, other personal information, how the case will likely progress, tort reform issues, and how our firm handles the case. They executed our contract and medical authorizations so that we can obtain their medical records and bills, and we ended the meeting.
What were their injuries? The wife had pain in her hip and buttocks area. The husband had pain in his neck, cervical strain, and pain in his lower back. About ten years earlier, he had a protruding disk in his lower back, and he is concerned that this wreck has re-injured that area which was already weak. He had been fine until this wreck. He was clearly in pain in my office, especially when he got up to leave. He is in his early thirties, and he should not have such pain at his age. He was following up with an orthopaedic surgeon.
With respect to the fraud case, we discussed the facts of the transaction and what has transpired since he purchased the vehicle. We discussed the legal ramifications of what was represented to him by the dealer and who might be responsible for his loss – a $19,000 vehicle which is inoperable right now. We also discussed his possible damages as a result of the misrepresentation. Again, he executed our contract, and we ended the meeting.
Our next step on each case: write representation letters to all parties and/or insurance companies who or which might be liable for the claims. We almost always try to resolve cases without litigation because it is usually most beneficial for all parties involved – less cost, time and emotional strain. In the car wreck case, we will begin obtaining medical records and bills, but we will also have to wait to see how the medical treatment will proceed as well as what the final outcome is. In the fraud case, we will wait to see how each party responds to our claims. Those claims will include: negligence, wantonness, misrepresentation, breach of warranty, breach of contract, and violations of the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act.