“That is case specific usually. When you determine that you had an injury that is not getting better, and that you are not feeling well, and you think you may need to pursue additional treatment—that’s the point where you need to get an attorney involved.”
– Dena Sisk Foman, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer at McLaughlin & Stern LLP in West Palm Beach
She Said – More Information from Dena Sisk Foman, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
The answer as to how quickly you should contact an attorney in an accident case varies depending on the type of accident. In car accident cases, the law changed in 2013. It now requires the person seeking Personal Injury Protection benefits to seek emergency medical care within 14 days of an injury. If they do not, they can waive all of their personal injury protection benefits. This is true even though the statute of limitations allows four years to sue a person who caused the accident and five years to sue an uninsured/under-insured automobile insurance carrier.
For car accident cases, it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. In other types of injury cases, it is important that if you do not contact an attorney right away, that you do get treatment and document your injuries. Often, people think they may get better and do not want to get an attorney because of this. If you do not document your accident and associated injuries, insurance companies will make the argument that if you were hurt so badly, you would have sought treatment.
There are other reasons to get to an attorney just after an accident, such as a slip and fall. Not everyone files an incident report and often surveillance footage is the only way to prove a slip and fall in an accident case. Most businesses erase video surveillance footage either every 30 or 45 days. It is imperative that your attorney send a demand for the surveillance to be preserved.
Lastly, if you are asked to give a recorded statement or a statement under oath, you should seek the advice of an attorney before giving any statement that is recorded. Often you will not understand why the questions are being asked and sometimes the questions are improper.
He Said – A Response from Bill Abel, Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
Generally speaking, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Because personal injury attorneys represent injured victims on a contingency basis, you as the client do not have to pay any money to hire an attorney and the benefits of hiring an attorney far outweigh any downside. For example, if you hire a personal injury attorney shortly after your accident and you get better, then you can drop your accident case and discharge your attorney. You do not lose anything.
However, if you fail to hire an attorney shortly after your accident, and you do not get better, you may have inadvertently damaged your accident case. For example, if you injure yourself at Publix or Walmart, most likely the accident was captured by security video. If you fail to request a copy of that video within a certain amount of time, that video will be erased and will never be available to help support your claim. An attorney will know what steps to take to preserve such evidence.
Additionally, without an attorney’s guidance, when you see your medical doctors, you may be making mistakes that will affect your accident case. For example, if you are injured in an accident and you seek chiropractic care for your injuries. During this time, you also go to your primary care doctor for a cold but do not mention your neck or back pain because you are seeing your PCP for your cold. The fact that you did not complain to your primary care doctor about your neck/back pain will be used against you if you ever bring a claim for your injuries.
With a legal claim or accident case, it is not what you know, it is what you can prove that matters. Most people don’t understand this and believe that because they are hurt and in pain, that is sufficient to prove their claim. This could not be further from the truth, which is why it is better to hire an attorney as soon after an accident as possible to help you through the process of an accident case.
Personal injury law video number 100042: Video: How Quickly Should I Contact an Attorney in an accident case?