Why Outsourcing an Asset Search is Essential for the Personal Injury Attorney
Personal injury attorneys have enough on their minds during a personal injury case including whether to accept an insurance offer for the insureds’ policy limits. They are under pressure to get the best outcome for their clients, who are also under stress for obvious reasons. Their clients may have severe injuries and may be on an indefinite hiatus from work. The injured party needs to know what kind of compensation they could receive at a settlement or at a trial. An asset search is a quick and convenient way for personal injury attorneys to satisfy their “due diligence” to determine if other assets exist to make the client whole, prior to settling the claim.
The personal injury attorney is responsible for accurately assessing the risks and potential benefits of accepting a settlement or pursuing further damages at a trial. Not fulfilling this responsibility puts a personal injury attorney at risk of being sued for malpractice. If a plaintiff has suffered severe injuries and their insurance does not cover the full damages, the plaintiff needs to know whether to accept a settlement from the insurance company and the at fault party, or whether to reject the settlement and embark on a trial.
As a personal injury attorney, you need to establish that there are no additional assets left on the table. Having an asset search conducted on your behalf, allows for the identification of assets and liabilities by clarifying what assets are available to “reach and apply” when it comes to your client’s injuries, which may be extremely serious, and not covered by insurance.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
In a personal injury case involving a vehicle, an asset search can be particularly helpful in gathering details about who the tortfeasor is living with and who else owns a vehicle in the tortfeasor’s home, which may provide other insurance policies and additional coverage that could be available to cover your client’s injuries. An asset search can provide the driver’s license and motor vehicle ownership information and whether the vehicle is associated with any corporate entities that may have an interest in the ownership of the vehicle or coverage. Some asset searches may even provide driving records and civil violations which could strengthen a case.
The Plaintiff’s Injuries
The injured party needs to receive compensation that can be stretched to cover the challenges of rehabilitation and covering lost wages and medical bills. Insurance companies and the at-fault parties may attempt to lowball the injured party into accepting a settlement that doesn’t cover the full cost to the injured party. The cost of the injuries may take time to become apparent, such as when the injured party needs additional medical assessment, time off work, ongoing physio etc. An asset search reduces uncertainty for an injured party who wants to know whether it is financially worth it to pursue further litigation. Obtaining a judgment is only half of the battle. The other half is collecting the judgment. If additional assets are identified, it could help the injured party to receive a settlement or damages to make them fully whole, and not just what the insurance company will pay.
Identifying the Available Assets
An asset search is fast, inexpensive, and thorough. It can be completed within 1-3 days and can cost as little as $185 for a nationwide asset search on an individual or $165 for a search on a business or company. It can reveal both the assets and the liabilities of the parties, including, but not limited to, real estate, deed transfers, limited partnerships, trusts, patents and professional licenses, automobiles, watercraft and aircraft, judgements, debts, and liens against the party.
If you need more information on how to conduct an asset search for a personal injury case and what is included in an asset search, please click here to download an eBook on conducting an asset search or contact us at (800) 290-1012, ext. 111, for any further questions.