When you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, you might be tempted to play the role of attorney.
Maybe it’s because your insurance company is putting you at ease and making you feel like everything is taken care of. Or perhaps you have a negative perception of personal injury attorneys. You figure you might as well try to sort everything out yourself, because you can just as easily hire an attorney later on if you need to.
Regardless of the reasoning, it’s almost always a mistake to put off hiring an attorney to represent your personal injury case. Here are a few reasons why:
Whether you like it or not, an insurance company or defense attorney is preparing to challenge your claim. If your case involves a large company that is being held liable for an accident, they have their protocols in place to minimize their responsibility. If it’s a car accident, the other driver’s insurance company will likely try to obtain a recorded statement that may well be used against you in the future.
An attorney will not only remind you of the pending investigation against you but also field requests on your behalf and protect you from hurting your own case.
After an accident, the focus immediately turns to evidence. Some of that evidence, such as surveillance footage, has a tendency to disappear (whether deliberately or simply due to volume) if you don’t get to it right away. You want to engage a personal injury attorney early on during the information gathering process so they can visit the scene of the accident, take pictures, speak to witnesses, and compile all other relevant documentation.
Your attorney can help ensure that you have access to the medical care you need, whether they’re facilitating treatment you’re already receiving or confirming that you’re being a good patient. When you’re making a personal injury claim, it’s extremely important to “follow doctor’s orders.” For example, if you skip physical therapy treatment recommended by your primary care doctor, you can bet the defense will bring attention to your negligence and question the seriousness of your injuries.
There’s a common misconception that personal injury attorneys work on an hourly fee, which lulls many people into thinking an attorney is a mere add-on to be reserved for if their case hits a wall. They’ll wait 18 months (while draining countless hours of their personal time), and then hire an attorney when their statute of limitations is on the horizon.
This strategy is flawed for two reasons: 1) attorneys work on a contingency percentage of the case outcome, and 2) 18 months is an eternity for you to damage your case by making flawed statements, losing track of evidence, and making other common mistakes.
If you hire an attorney well into your case, you’re essentially paying them the same amount to do less work, when they would have actually preferred to do more work and increase the odds of winning your case.
Most personal injury cases have a two-year statute of limitations, meaning you have two years to file a lawsuit or resolve your claim. However, there are numerous exceptions to the norm. A medical malpractice case, for instance, has only a one-year statute of limitations. An attorney is the best person to interpret and exercise your rights.
If you’re filing a personal injury claim, hiring an attorney from the start will make your life easier and solidify your case. Belgum, Fry & Van Allen specialize in representing personal injury claims ranging from car and motorcycle accidents to dog bites, slips, and falls. Click here to learn more about our team.Tags: los angeles personal injury attorney