Have you ever heard the claim that "You should talk to an attorney immediately after a car accident"? There's a good chance that you heard this claim as a part of a marketing message for an attorney website. With stereotypes like "ambulance chaser," it is easy to ignore these claims, but you should not.
Why is it so important to talk to a personal injury attorney immediately after an accident?
We will begin the discussion with the law. West Virginia Code Section 55-2-12 gives car accident victims a two-year window in which they can bring a lawsuit for damages. Two years might seem like a long time, but is it?
When you or a loved one is recovering from serious injuries, this time can go by much faster than you think. Medical procedures, doctor's visits and therapy quickly fill up your schedule. Worry, fear and anxiety about your health or your loved one's can consume your thoughts.
It is hard to think about legal proceedings or hiring an attorney at a time like this, but you should. Here are only a few reasons why you should talk to an attorney immediately:
- Your insurance company may underpay or deny your claim: Insurance companies don't want to pay more than they have to, which is why you can expect them to find ways to underpay or deny you the full compensation they owe under
- The clock starts running immediately: The two-year window begins at the time of the accident, not when you file an insurance claim or discover evidence that the other driver was at fault.
- You need time to file and prepare your case: If your claim is denied or you dispute the amount of the offer, you want to make sure that you are not outside the window in which you can legally file a claim. You also want to leave as much time as possible for your attorney to prepare your case before you file.
- Evidence disappears or gets lost: The risk that evidence that could prove vital to your recovery gets lost or destroyed increases the longer you wait to file a claim.
- You can focus on physical, mental and emotional recovery: When you hire an attorney, they will likely take care of the insurance details for you. They can deal with the paperwork so you can make your recovery or your loved one's recovery is the priority.
Timing isn't the only reason why you should consult with an attorney. Many other reasons are equally important. With free consultations and contingency fees most personal injury attorneys offer, getting some advice can't hurt.