Why do I Need To Contact a Lawyer Immediately After Suffering an Injury?
You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible after suffering an injury. Your first concern when injured should be to seek medical care for your injuries. Once you have been medically examined by a doctor, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options. Do not assume that insurance companies and defendants will help you, or that you can trust their advice. Their job is to defeat your potential claim, not to help you.
Here are just some of the crucial reasons timely consultation with an attorney is essential:
1. Crucial physical evidence to prove your case (for example, automobile parts or objects causing injury), may be destroyed within days of the incident if a lawyer is not involved. Once retained by you, your lawyer can immediately file documents in court to require other parties to preserve evidence or to even make it available for inspection. Without inspection and testing of this evidence by experts, your case may well not be provable.
2. Crucial visual evidence of an incident may be destroyed without immediate consultation with a lawyer. The City of Chicago, for example, has lined many city streets with traffic cameras. Similarly, businesses commonly maintain video cameras on their premises of minute-by-minute events occurring both inside and outside the premises. Without a court order, businesses will routinely destroy or tape over this video footage within a couple of weeks of the event. If you retain an attorney immediately after the incident, however, your attorney can go into court and order the city or the business to preserve the video of the crucial event involved in your case and make it available for copying.
3. Defendants (parties responsible for your injuries) may not be aware of their obligation to notify their liability insurers immediately of the claim you are bringing against them. If they fail to give prompt notice (within days or weeks of the incident) to their insurance companies, the insurers have a right under the insurance contract and under Illinois law to deny the claim and refuse to pay for your injuries on behalf of the insured defendant. While this may hurt the defendant, it hurts you far more because the insurance company will refuse to pay for your claim. Your claim will therefore have no value unless the defendant has substantial assets of its own, which is often not the case. By promptly retaining your own attorney, your attorney can make sure that the defendant promptly notifies his own insurer, thereby preserving the insurance pot of money necessary to compensate you for your claim. Your attorney can also make sure that you provide prompt, proper notice to your own insurance company when your claim is against your own company, such as claims for benefits under uninsured and underinsured motorist provisions of your own auto policy.
4. Your prompt retention of an attorney will ensure that you do not accidently allow the statute of limitations to expire, resulting in the permanent barring of your claim. See Frequently Asked Question, “What is a Statute of Limitations?”