Huge Mistake #6
Waiting to hire a lawyer
You have probably seen shows on TV where a detective opens up a cold case from thirty years ago to go after the murderer and bring him to justice. The family of the victims are finally brought relief, and the detective is a hero for refusing to give up. This is not how it works with personal injury cases. After a certain amount of time, you are not allowed to pursue your case or seek settlement money. Waiting too long raises the question, why didn’t you pursue the case right after it happened? People will question whether your personal injury deserves compensation if you take too long. Worst case scenario, the insurance companies will think that you are only looking for an opportunity for free money. Their assumption is that you would not wait to seek a settlement for a serious injury, so your personal injury case must be illegitimate.
Obviously, there are plenty of reasons that might make you wait to seek legal advice. You could be in physical and emotional pain. You’re probably frustrated. You might even be humiliated or embarrassed, and the last thing you want to do is have to talk through the details of your traumatic experience. That being said, I have found that most people leave the free consultation that we offer with a greater sense of security. They can rest assured that they have all of the information they need to go forward and the peace of mind that they pursued all of their options. I understand that your personal injury case can be one of the most difficult times in your life, so it’s always brought me satisfaction to help people through it.
All cases are governed by a statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is basically a time limit. You must pursue your case before the time limit runs out. After the time limit runs out, there is nothing you can do. The courts will not hear a personal injury case that happened a long time ago, even if your case is very good. The statute of limitations vary from state to state, and they vary depending on what type of case you have. It is always important to go see a lawyer at the earliest possible time. Do not delay. If you need a lawyer, put this book down and call a lawyer right now.
Even if the statute of limitations has not yet run out, waiting can still be a huge mistake. Preparing a good case can take a long time. Documents have to be exchanged, witnesses have to be contacted, and courts have packed schedules for hearing cases. Waiting to contact a lawyer puts pressure on the case. If you wait to seek legal advice, you make your lawyer race against the clock.
I had a client who was in a very serious car crash. We’ll call her Iris. Overwhelmed with her injuries and medical bills, Iris waited to seek legal advice. Hiring a lawyer seemed like one more thing that she did not want to deal with during her difficult time. Unfortunately for Iris, she waited too long. She did not go see a lawyer in time, and she lost her right to go after the guilty driver forever. She had a good case, and we could have gotten her a great settlement for her injuries. But, because she did not see us in time, there was nothing we could do.