Did you or a loved one get severely injured recently? Check out these 4 personal injury tips, then call our Hamburg lawyers to get started.
1. Time to File a Personal Injury Claim
People want to know how long they have to bring their case or to file their claim. The answer to that is, “It depends.” Lots of factors are in play. How were you injured? Where were you injured? Who injured you? The length of time to initiate an action can be different depending on the answers to those questions. That’s why it’s important to seek counsel right away. That way, your attorney can preserve your claim and make sure it gets filed in time. If your claim isn’t filed before the relevant statute runs, you’re out of luck.
2. Personal Injury Case Time Frame
Quite often, clients come in and ask us, “How long is this going to take?” Until we know more about their specific cases, that is a very tough question to answer. I really get annoyed when I see commercials presented by other law firms that say, “Our average time to resolve a case is 18 to 19 months,” or whatever it is. Claims like that don’t do clients any service because, first of all, a lot of the correct answer depends on how their medical treatment is progressing.
I prefer not to settle any claim until I’m sure my client has reached a near-end point of their medical issues. That’s important. For example, what happens if I settle a claim with someone early on – perhaps it’s a neck complaint – and then, later on down the road, they need neck surgery? At that point, the value of that client’s case increases dramatically – but we’ve already settled the case. As lawyers, we need to be patient, and we tell our clients that all the time.
The other primary cause of delays in these cases can be the insurance company and their lawyers. They like to delay things. It’s important to understand that some insurance defense lawyers are on the clock, and they are paid by the hour. I don’t know if that’s always a motivating factor, but it certainly could be. A lot of things are going on at once and, sometimes, court congestion can be a big problem. We try to get our cases scheduled for trial as quickly as we can, but some of the judges’ schedules are backed up as much as a year or two, so it’s not always easy to get an immediate trial date.
In those situations, we sometimes try to pursue other avenues such as mediation or arbitration in an attempt to resolve cases. That’s why, to give a blanket answer about how long a given case is going to take is simply impossible. I will tell you that we’re going to move it as quickly as we can, and we will do so based on all of the circumstances that are presented for your specific case – not everybody else’s.
3. Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
From time to time, people call us late in the game and say, “I didn’t really contact a lawyer. I didn’t know what to do. Six months has gone by. Is it too late to file a lawsuit?” Sometimes, waiting too long can be problematic – especially if your case involves a government agency or entity that you want to sue – because of certain time limitations that govern the filing of Notices of Claims. In some rare instances, that Notice of Claim deadline is 30 days, but most of them are 90 days. That means the time in which you can file a lawsuit is only a year and 90 days – much shorter than most traditional personal injury cases which allow three years from the date of the occurrence. Medical malpractice claims are a little bit different in that dental and medical claims allow two and a half years.
When it comes to medical/dental claims, finding out when their statute of limitations period starts and ends can be an exercise in extensive litigation all by itself. The bottom line is that, because those varying time limits do exist, you really should consult with a lawyer right away. That way, they can protect your interests. There’s nothing I hate worse – and I had this happen recently – than to have somebody call me about something that happened four years ago, and have to say, “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do for you.” Let the lawyer make the decision about what should happen and when it should happen because, if you wait too long, you may do yourself a huge disservice.
4. Telling Your Doctor About Your Accident
The majority of our cases that involve personal injuries require that medical records be recovered and used in the case. For that reason, our clients often wonder if they should tell their doctors about their accidents. Your doctors need to know if you have been injured and how. If you go to the doctor and you have a complaint that your ankle hurts, but you neglect to mention that you tripped over a dangerous condition on a property and fell, your case will be weakened. This will also make it more difficult for the doctor to make sure that payments are processed to the appropriate insurance company. By refusing to discuss the source of your injury with your doctor, you will find it more challenging when you are making a claim to demonstrate that the accident caused that injury.
It is crucial that you be honest with your doctors, that you be complete and accurate in telling them exactly what happened, that you be consistent, and that you tell all of your doctors the cause of your injuries and your symptoms. You need to know that what you tell your doctor is likely going to be recorded. When we pull those records at a later date, they will be used in the claim for personal injuries.
Download Our Free Personal Injury Guide
Did you suffer an injury and have questions about these 4 personal injury tips? Don’t wait too long, or you may not be able to file a claim. Contact the experienced Hamburg personal injury lawyers at Chiacchia & Fleming, LLP for a free consultation. We know how the insurance companies operate and treat your case and your injuries seriously. We will do everything in our power to bring you relief. Let our experience work for you.