In previous articles about personal injury attorneys, we have reviewed the numerous reasons why you should hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you after an accident and how you should shop for a lawyer; however, we have not yet discussed the timing question. In many respects, the question of when you should hire a personal injury attorney is simple. Most attorneys will agree that you should hire an attorney immediately after an accident, but that advice misses some minor, yet important, steps that should be taken before hiring an attorney. If you have been in an accident or have recently suffered an injury, you should consider the following issues in deciding when to speak with an attorney.
Have You Sought Medical Help?
This should be a no-brainer for most people, but it is not. Often, a person’s first call after an accident is to a personal injury lawyer rather than either the police, a hospital, or an ambulance service. In some cases, this is fine, particularly where the victim’s injuries are minor; however, you should not be calling a personal injury attorney if (and these cases really happened) (1) you are bleeding profusely on the side of the road; (2) your attorney consult will cause you to miss much needed medical assistance; or (3) you are calling from inside of an ambulance. Getting to an attorney quickly is important, but your health is your most important asset. Always seek medical care and use your common sense before attempting to hire a personal injury lawyer.
Most people are aware that they should file a police report after an accident. A police report is an important evidentiary mechanism that helps both the police and your attorney discover what really happened at the scene of the accident. It is very difficult to file a useful police report hours or days after an accident has occurred. In fact in many jurisdictions you are only entitled to filing a citizen’s complaint if a police report is not made at the scene of an accident. After an accident, if you are conscious and not in desperate need of medical care, you should see to it that the police or called to the scene of the accident. After that is done, you should call your lawyer.
Shop Around and Consult with Several Attorneys before Making a Final Decision
While it is possible that the first personal injury attorney you visit is your best bet, you should always consult with multiple different personal injury lawyers to determine which will be the right attorney for your case. While factors such as practice area, cost, and history are important, most of all, you should like your attorney and form a personal connection with him or her. We are not saying you need to love your attorney – far from it. The important thing is to have a strong working relationship with your personal injury attorney. A good relationship increases productivity and makes your experience more manageable. Do not hire an attorney until you are relatively sure you have found an attorney who listens to you and your needs, communicates with you regularly, and will fight for you and your case.
The Statute of Limitations – Or when is it Too Late to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
The statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on a victim’s ability to file a lawsuit. Different statutes of limitations run at different periods, and you may always want to call a lawyer simply to ask what the deadline for filing a claim is. That way, you know when you lose your right to file a claim. For most standard personal injury actions in New York, the statute of limitations is three years.
However, it is dangerous to move to file a claim too close to the expiration of the limitations period. A lot goes into preparing to file a lawsuit between investigating the circumstances, writing the civil complaint, and getting testimony commitments from witnesses. Showing up at a law firm the week before the statute limitations deadline is never a good strategy. In general, you should try to contact a lawyer no later than 30 days after the date of accident.
Hiring a personal injury attorney is an important undertaking that should not be done lightly, but it ideally should be done quickly. If you have been injured and are seeking to hire a personal injury attorney in the New York and New Jersey areas, you should contact the Law Offices of Yuriy Moshes. We offer free consultations for new personal injury clients and focus on providing a personalized customer service experience.