The When and Where of a Personal Injury ClaimWhen should you file a personal injury claim? And where should you go for help? They seem like easy questions, but the devil is in the details. First, know your rights. Second, know how to ask questions. Third, go with the experts. This guide answers many related questions.
When Should You File? First, when should you hire a lawyer?
You should consult with a lawyer before agreeing to anything with insurers or the entity at fault. Quite often insurance companies will try to settle before this case goes anywhere. However, know your rights, know that the people at fault are thinking of themselves first and not you, and follow your given right to hire legal representation. You should hire a lawyer the moment you know a claim will be needed. There may be a case of a hospital mistake leading to an injury. In cases such as wrongful death, it's even more important to follow this step. If you are in an accident, make sure you are okay first, but if possible write down important details on what exactly happened.
How should you hire a lawyer?
Not all personal injury lawyers are equal. Just as in any profession, some are better than others. This profession requires both in court and out of court experience. To hire a lawyer you can go online, make some phone calls, and perhaps even go on recommendations. You want to consult with more than one. And never meet with a lawyer who charges an initial consultation fee. Meet with several lawyers, go over experience, and consider rates.
When can you file?
Once you hire a lawyer, you can then begin the legal process. If you hire a good lawyer, he or she will handle the time table for you. They will be in charge. Unless major mistakes are made, leave it that way. You typically want to wait six months to a year before making any kind of lawsuit. You may even get offers during this period; until you know the full scope of your injury, make no agreements.
You do have a time table allowing you to file the claim. State laws differ, but usually you have about 3 years to file a claim. It's best to file far before that, especially if you have medical costs or other damages.
Where do you go for help?
If you are unsure of this while process, that's okay. It does get complex. There are many references in print and online helping those in need of personal injury law information. However, your best resource is your lawyer. Also, legal sites like this one, as well as government law sites, can provide some detailed information. You may even ask someone who's been through a similar case, though no two personal injury lawsuits are exactly alike.