If you're injured, seeking medical treatment for your injuries is certainly the first priority. No less urgent, however: talking to a personal injury attorney.
Just as with medical treatment, people who have suffered injuries often wait until they feel it's absolutely necessary to talk to an attorney. But often with personal injury cases, as the saying goes: You snooze, you lose.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn't wait to call a personal injury attorney:
- Statutes of limitations and government tort claim deadlines. The statute of limitations is a legal rule requiring any case arising from an injury be filed within a certain time limit. These time limits vary from state to state and also depend on the nature of your case. In addition, claims against the government are subject to "Tort Claims Acts" which may impose dramatically accelerated deadlines before which your case must be filed. An experienced attorney will know the deadlines that apply to your case and in your jurisdiction.
- Evidence may be lost or destroyed. Your chances of prevailing in a personal injury case in large part depend on the strength of your evidence. However, the longer you wait to take action, the more likely that key evidence that could support your case -- such as witness statements, physical evidence at the scene, and proof of your injuries -- may be harder to document. A lawyer will work to immediately preserve any and all evidence that may help your personal injury case, taking the burden off of you and increasing your odds of recovery.
- Your memory (and witnesses' memories) of the event may fade. The most important evidence of all is often your own memory of the event. And as we all know, memory can often fade or be altered with time. A lawyer will help you document every detail of the event, and will know which seemingly unimportant details may be key to a successful case.
- You may miss out on a chance for quick settlement. A settlement can often be the best resolution for a personal injury claim, allowing the injured party to be financially compensated for their injuries and allowing the defendant to forego the time and expense of trial. Negotiating a quick and fair settlement is often easier said than done, however. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to advise you on the pros and cons of settlement, and will be able to negotiate on your behalf.
- The peace of mind you'll get from knowing your case is in good hands. Dealing with the physical and mental healing process from any injury can be difficult. Knowing that there is someone advocating for you and taking care of your case can be a huge weight off of your shoulders.
If you're still hesitant about hiring an attorney, remember that many personal injury lawyers offer free (or low-cost) consultations and take cases on a contingency fee basis, allowing you to have a lawyer on your side without having to come up with any extra cash. The sooner you get an experienced personal injury attorney on your case, the sooner you'll be able to resolve it and move on with your life.