Many personal injury claims will settle before the end of the year. How do you find out if your client should take the case to trial or settle? Using an asset search can help you satisfy your “due diligence” so your client can come to the proper decision about whether to move forward with a personal injury case.

According to the American Bar Association, small firms and solo practitioners are the most susceptible to a legal malpractice lawsuit if they fail to satisfy their due diligence before they settle a case. Moreover, personal injury is an area well known to be one of the practice areas most vulnerable to a lawsuit by a client who was injured. Personal injury attorneys build a case by establishing the facts of the case and making an estimate about the value of the case and of the judgment. If the defendant is not able to pay, the case may have little value and it will be better for your client to negotiate a settlement. If it turns out that the at-fault party does have assets, you could be liable for failing to do your due diligence to your client but identifying and securing those assets. 

One way to speed up the process and make a more accurate assessment is to conduct an asset search as soon as possible to help you ascertain the value of your client’s case. Is the insurance company negotiating in bad faith, or is the insurance inadequate to recover? Do not forget that the at-fault party can also be a source of recovery for your client. 

An asset search can help you decide in a timely manner whether to settle or go to trial and making a decision about going to trial should be done sooner rather than later because there may be time limits set by the statute of limitations. An asset search is fast, and usually turns around within a few days. As well as being efficient, an asset search is also inexpensive. Most asset searches cost between $ 165 to $ 350. At Asset Searches Plus, Inc.,, a nationwide asset search on an individual costs $185 per subject and a corporate asset search costs $165. All that is normally needed to conduct an asset search is the name and last known address of your subject to be searched. 

An asset search can provide a wealth of information relevant to a personal injury case. They can locate a person’s real estate, recent deed transfers, boats, automobiles, planes, and intellectual property, trademarks, patents, and professional licenses. They will also be able to uncover associated entities that could be holding assets such as trusts, limited partnerships, and corporations. An asset search can reveal assets that are held jointly or otherwise. An asset search can also uncover important details such as the correct and verified address and phone number of the defendant, information about who the defendant is employed with, whether they are in the armed services, whether they are a director of a publicly traded company; driving records; civil or criminal records; family and neighbors, and any debts, liens and judgements against a person. 

Providing all the relevant information to assist you with decision-making about how to recover damages is a critical part of satisfying your due diligence to your client as a personal injury attorney. Even if you do not go to trial, the more information you have, the better position you are in to help your client negotiate a realistic settlement. Since most personal injury attorneys offer a contingent fee agreement, the more the client can recover the more the attorney will be paid for their services. An asset search is an information-gathering tool that preempts the more arduous and expensive discovery process if you are to go to trial. Even if the client does not want to pay for the asset search, it is a cost-effective way to ensure that you are covered by doing your diligence to the full extent. 

Since most asset searches also reveal not only assets but also liabilities, it gives a more accurate picture of whether it is cost effective to pursue a lawsuit in addition to seeking a claim against the insurer. Liabilities commonly unearthed in an asset search include, but not are not limited to any state and federal tax liens, bankruptcies, uniform commercial code liens, other lawsuits, and judgements. 

An asset search is an extremely convenient way of helping to answer the question of whether to settle or not to settle. Just one quick asset search could help you decide the correct course of action, add significant value to your client’s case and free you from the risk of being sued for failing to do your due diligence. For more information on conducting an asset search, please call us at 1(800) 290-1012 ext. 111, or visit our site at .