Generally, the sooner an injured person consults an attorney regarding their potential case, the better.
It is important to act fast for several reasons.
The Other Side Has Already Contacted A Lawyer, And So Should You
Corporations and insurance companies have full-time lawyers on staff whose entire job is to respond to accidents. Their goal is pretty simple: try to demonstrate their client did nothing wrong, and that you are to blame. Even when the company is clearly at fault, its mission is to pay you as little as possible.
The time-tested process corporations and insurance companies use to get their clients off the hook begin immediately after an accident. Usually, the first thing they do is ask you to participate in an interview or give a statement. Then they ask you to see one of their doctors. Don’t do either one of those things until you speak to an attorney of your own.
Large companies, their lawyers, and the doctors they have on retainer are trained to ask questions in a way that gets the answer they want, regardless of what the truth is. That’s why you should never speak to anyone about your accident until you consult with an attorney of your own.
When the other side already has a lawyer, attempting to handle things on your own is like fighting with one arm tied behind your back. You need to contact a lawyer you can trust to aggressively represent your interests. Whether you hire Morrow & Sheppard or someone else, you should not try to fight a corporation or insurance company on your own.
Preservation of Physical Evidence
Shortly after an accident, the physical evidence involved will generally be more accessible than it will be months or years later. For example, even weeks after an 18-wheeler accident, the truck involved may be fixed up and on a job thousands of miles away. The equipment at issue (tires, brakes, etc.) may have been altered or repaired, hindering the ability to show its condition at the time of the accident.
The more time that passes, the more of an opportunity the party responsible has to discard or alter the evidence, even if they are not supposed to do so. A refinery involved in an explosion would be hard-pressed to explain why it discarded the product which caused the fire in the days, weeks, or months following the accident. But years later, the company may argue it discarded the product because it forgot or thought it was no longer important.
It is important to begin the investigation process as soon as possible.
Preservation of Non-Physical Evidence
Immediately following an incident, the non-physical evidence critical to the case may be easier to locate and document. For example, shortly after an accident, eyewitnesses may still be in the vicinity and available to give a statement.
In the months or years after an accident, those eyewitnesses may move away, their contact information may change, and contacting them may become more difficult. Over time, memories fade and can even change. Witnesses who would initially give supporting testimony may forget what they saw. Or, the witnesses could speak to others, including their employer, and be persuaded to remember things differently. For this reason, it is important to act quickly.
Statute of Limitations
There is usually a legal deadline to file a personal injury case. This is referred to as the statute of limitations or prescription. Depending on where you live, the statute of limitations to bring an injury lawsuit can be as little as one year, if not sooner.
A year can go by in an instant, especially when your focus is on getting the injured person better and taking care of their family, not legal matters. For this reason, it is important to act quickly following an accident to ensure none of your rights are lost.