When Should I Speak with a Lawyer after an Accident?

How much time do you have to speak with a lawyer after you have been injured in an accident? Not as much time as you think. You may think that you have plenty of time to speak with a lawyer after your accident because the statute of limitations is a number of years.

But that’s deceivingly not true. You may not have anywhere near as much time as you think or you may even have more time than you think.

The problem is that many people are familiar with the statute of limitations, so they often wait thinking there’s still time, and then find that it’s either too late or lawyers don’t want the case even if there is still time. But there are many other time factors besides the statute of limitations.

Read further to find out why it’s important to speak with a personal injury lawyer immediately after your accident.


What is the statute of limitations?

The statute of limitations is the time within which a lawsuit must be filed.

Can you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired?

No. However, the important question is when did the time start to run. You may think it began to run at the time of your accident, but that may or may not be true.

For instance, if the person injured is a minor, then the time will begin to run when the injured person reaches the age of majority.

In medical malpractice, it’s very complicated to determine when the time begins to run, and it’s different in different states.

How long is the statute of limitations for personal injury and accidents?

The statute of limitations for personal injury differs by state. The statute of limitations is as short as one year in three states and six years in three other states, but in most states, the statute of limitations is two or three years.

Your lawyer may decide that a government entity needs to be sued. The statute of limitations against government entities is usually very short.

Why can’t I wait until just before the statute of limitations expires?

There are many problems that can occur if you wait to speak with a lawyer. Besides the statute of limitations, there are many other shorter time limits to file various claims for benefits.

Some time limits are as short as days, not years!

You may have some time limits of as short as 30 days to file a claim. For instance, to get your medical bills paid and receive lost wages when you’re injured in a car accident in New York, you must file a no-fault claim within 30 days.

An uninsured or underinsured claim may have to be filed within 90 days.

If your lawsuit will involve a government as a defendant, you may have only 90 days to file a Notice of Claim. And the statute of limitations may be much shorter for government defendants. for instance, a common time limit is 90 days to file a Notice of Claim and one year after that to file a lawsuit.

Warning: Do not assume that your case will not have a government defendant. It may not be obvious to you but will be to personal injury lawyers. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to find a personal injury lawyer willing to take your case.

Consequently, call a lawyer immediately after your accident. Waiting for a better time is never a good idea.

You may not be able to find an accident lawyer willing to take your case

You may have ruined your case

In the months that go by, you may have already ruined your case. There are a lot of ways that you can ruin your case from doing or saying things you should not have to not doing things you should have.

It may be too late to sue some defendants

If you call a lawyer several months before the statute of limitations will run on your accident case, you may find that lawyers are not willing to take your case because they don’t have enough time to properly investigate your case. They will be worried they could commit legal malpractice if they don’t sue a defendant that needed to be sued.

It may be difficult to determine all of the people, companies, or government entities responsible that need to be sued. Often, a lawsuit is started, and after depositions, the lawyer discovers that there is another person or company that needs to be sued.

The problem is that it can take 6-24 months before depositions are conducted, and it could be too late to start a lawsuit against that defendant.

The personal injury law firm where I started working had a case that involved a client with very serious injuries. It was very difficult to determine what companies owned and operated the vehicle that caused the injuries. Multiple defendants were sued, and all denied owning or operating the vehicle.

After the defendants were questioned at their depositions, three years after the accident, it was discovered that the wrong companies were sued and the right company was not. It was too late, and the law firm had committed legal malpractice. This is why law firms don’t like taking cases long after the accident.

How long can I wait before calling an accident lawyer?

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There is no way anyone can tell you how long you can wait, but you should call a personal injury lawyer immediately after you are injured in an accident or as soon as you possibly can.

There is no reason not to call because personal injury lawyers give a free consultation, and you have no obligation to hire the lawyer.

If you’re not sure whether you should call a personal injury lawyer either because your injury isn’t that serious or because you’re not the type of person to file a lawsuit, you should call immediately anyway and think about it later.

If you don’t think your injury is serious enough, you might be wrong. Your injury may be worth a lot more than you think, and your injury might get a lot worse as time goes by.

If you’re not the type of person that likes to file lawsuits, you should know that most personal injury clients are just like you. You might think that you’ll deal with your injury, but you should know that injuries get much worse over time, and by the time you’re in your 60s or 70s, previously minor injuries start getting serious.

The majority of the money that you get with your lawsuit is not for your injury today but is for what will happen to you in the future.

Call one of the personal injury lawyers in the Million Dollar Trial Lawyers directory.

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