I received a call from an injured person the other day who had previously contacted me a short time after his auto accident. After that initial conversation, he decided to negotiate with the insurance adjuster without the help of an attorney.
Timing is everything
His recent call was to ask if I could get involved in his case. He had not achieved a settlement amount with which he was happy by negotiating on his own, so he wanted to know if I could file his lawsuit.
I had to decline his request. He was calling at 1:00pm on the two year anniversary of his accident. His statute of limitations for his injury claims regarding an Oregon auto accident was about to run out in a few hours.
This example is an extreme case of what can go wrong if an injured person does not hire an attorney soon after their accident. An auto accident, especially with injuries, is like the inner workings of a clock. Certain things need to mesh to operate smoothly.
Why do people wait?
We can speculate that his busy life did not give him as much time to handle his settlement negotiations as he would have liked. We can be certain that he did not have office management systems and computer systems to assist him in pursuing his claims.
It is likely that he had little knowledge of how things should proceed and even less knowledge of the signs that point to a claim not proceeding in an orderly fashion to a just and agreeable resolution. In short, he was in over his head, and realized he was not comfortable navigating the unfamiliar waters in which he found himself.
Putting the pieces together
I like to get involved in an auto accident case as soon as possible because:
- There may be important evidence to preserve for future use.
- I am ready with a complete medical file if questions arise.
- I monitor all of my client’s medical bills so we can be prepared as they approach the policy limit for medical payments.
All of this preparedness results in smooth orderly progress toward resolution of my client’s auto accident claim.
Experience shows that people who engage an auto accident attorney early in the injury claim process have a much better chance of settling their case before a lawsuit has to be filed. In the last two years I have been filing more and more lawsuits to achieve fair results for clients, but one thing that practically guarantees that a case will be filed is a client that signs up late.
Keep in mind that even two months before the two year anniversary of an accident is late enough in the process to greatly increase the chances that a lawsuit gets filed.
Many people find it distasteful to sue somebody else. If you are one of those people, becoming a client sooner rather than later makes fair resolution of your auto accident claim without suing someone far more likely.