After a car accident, filing a lawsuit is the last thing on your mind. However, the law limits how long you have to file a lawsuit when insurance negotiations fail. In most states, you have up to two years to either settle or file a lawsuit.
Should you wait for two years to hire an attorney? Preferably not.
While the law might give you two years to file your lawsuit in court, the sooner you hire an attorney, the easier it is to get the compensation you deserve.
Why Do You Need an Attorney? Can’t You Just Work with the Insurance Company Yourself?
You may feel that you can negotiate a settlement with the insurer and get the compensation you deserve. But realize that the insurance company you are negotiating with has a team of attorneys and claims adjusters evaluating every detail of your case. If you go up against this team alone, you are outnumbered when it comes to research and pulling together evidence. Furthermore, this team knows how the process works, and they know the laws. They are willing to push the limits of those laws to lower the amount of compensation they offer to you.
When you face a professional team of adjusters and attorneys, you are at a significant disadvantage. These attorneys work against cases like this almost daily, and you do not.
It is vital to understand how important an attorney is at this point in your case. An attorney will help leveling the playing field so that you do not have a team of adjusters and attorneys working against you.
What Should You Do Immediately after the Accident?
After a car accident, you are most likely going to experience shock. But it is imperative that you remember what you must do following a car accident to ensure you collect the right evidence in case you ever have to take your case to trial.
Even if you do not think you will need a lawsuit, or if you think you’ll never hire an attorney, making sure you follow the correct steps after a car accident could be extra reassurance for you in case insurance negotiations do turn south and you find yourself filing an injury lawsuit down the road.
Some steps to take immediately after the accident:
- Get Medical Treatment Right Away – Do not delay medical treatment. Not only does a delay hurt your chances of receiving a fair settlement, but it could put you at serious risk for post-accident complications. Even if you feel okay, you should go to the emergency room or your family physician immediately after the accident. Your body goes into a state of shock after an accident, and the increased adrenaline can mask the symptoms of serious injuries – including life-threatening ones. Therefore, seeking medical treatment is critical following any type of car accident.
- Keep Documentation Regarding the Accident, Costs, and Medical Records – Now is the time to become incredibly organized. You need to keep proper documentation from your accident, because you may need that information to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company and you may need it as evidence in an injury suit. Make sure you keep copies of all medical records, prescriptions, hours missed from work, physician’s notes to your employer about your ability to work, out-of-pocket expenses, and even the police report from your car accident.
- Get Pictures of Everything – Ideally, you want photographs of the accident scene. However, this is not always possible, depending on how seriously injured you are. If you cannot take photographs, see if a friend or family member can get to the scene and take them for you. Also, do not forget to photograph your injuries. Recalling the details of your injuries and reading medical records does not hold as much weight compared to showing photographs of the injuries and the medical records together.
Know When to Hire an Attorney
While you do have two years to file your lawsuit, waiting that long could risk your chances for full compensation.
Some risks in waiting to hire representation include:
- Lost Evidence – The longer you wait to hire an attorney, the more likely it is that evidence you need to seek out fair compensation disappears. You may not have enough photographs of the accident scene, copies of your records and money spent on injuries and replacements, and your attorney might spend hours trying to track down evidence that is several months to years old – which complicates your case significantly.
- Witnesses Are Less Likely to Remember Details – The biggest piece of evidence in a personal injury case is eyewitnesses. These individuals saw the accident or might be passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident, for example. Like with any incident, memories fade. And the longer you wait to hire an attorney, the more likely it is that key witnesses to your case will forget details that can help you. When you involve an attorney early on, they can depose your witnesses and get their statements on record before they start to forget those minor details – ensuring you have the evidence necessary to seek full compensation.
- Passing the Deadline – The statute of limitations for injury claims is strict. If you go past that two-year limitation, you cannot file a lawsuit and seek compensation. Instead, the court will dismiss the case. Hiring an attorney a week before your deadline can complicate things and make it harder for your attorney to file the necessary paperwork in time.
- Not doing what you need to in order to maximize the value of your claim.
Injured in a Car Accident? Hire an Attorney Today
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident recently, do not wait to hire an attorney. There is no risk to hire a lawyer for your case, and you do not pay an attorney until you receive compensation. Instead of trying to negotiate with insurance companies while you recover from your injuries, contact attorney Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. regarding your case.
To get started, call him toll-free at the office at 800-465-8795, his cell 215-771-0430, or fill out his online contact form.