When Should I Call a Personal Injury Attorney after an Accident?
Following an auto accident, burn injury, dog bite, or any other type of incident that causes serious injuries, victims may experience pain and trauma. Ensuring your injuries are stabilized should always be your first priority and you should therefore seek an immediate medical evaluation as soon as possible. However, in many situations, recovery from injuries can be extensive and you may spend weeks or months focused on medical treatment. If your accident occurred due to someone else's negligence, you should also consult with an experienced Wisconsin personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. There are many important steps that may need to be taken immediately in order to preserve the evidence to prove the negligence of the party or parties who caused the accident.
An Attorney Can Help with Every Stage of Your Case
In many municipalities, traffic cameras record intersections, but often, the recordings are only maintained for 24 hours. If a request is not made within that time frame, the evidence could be lost. Evidence at the scene of the accident can also be critical. Skid marks, gauge marks, debris, and other valuable information can be lost if not photographed and documented while still available.
Police who investigate the accident sometimes videotape their inspection of the scene and communications with drivers and witnesses, but those recordings are also only maintained for a limited amount of time. 911 calls can be invaluable in many respects.
First, there are often witnesses who may have seen an accident and called 911, but did not stop and give their names to the investigating officers. Second, there have been many occasions where the negligent driver called and admitted fault during that initial call, but later denied fault when the police arrived or when they gave their statement to their own insurance company. Third, either injured parties or occupants of their vehicles may call and express emotional comments about injuries or the emotional trauma caused by the accident. Lastly, a 911 operator may be the last person who conversed with a dying victim.
The counties are only required to maintain 911 communications for 120 days, so if the request isn't made within that time, this valuable information may be lost forever. Lawyers can collect and preserve this very important evidence.
When trying to obtain compensation from a responsible party's insurance company, injury victims may not believe that the assistance of a lawyer is necessary. While you certainly have the right to communicate with the insurance company on your own, having a lawyer who understands how to negotiate with insurers can greatly increase your chances of an adequate settlement so that you can avoid a subsequent legal case. Insurance companies often pressure people to settle early, before the full extent of the damages or the long term complications from injuries are known. Once a victim signs a release, it becomes very difficult, and often impossible, to obtain additional compensation once the full extent of the injuries are finally known.
Statute of Limitations and Other Deadlines in Wisconsin
Wisconsin law sets out a very strict time limit for filing legal claims based on personal injuries. An injured victim has three years from the date of an accident and injury to file his or her lawsuit against any negligent parties. Once this three-year time period ends, unless an exception to the three year deadline can be found, any filings will likely be dismissed and you will lose your opportunity to recover.
In addition, if the driver who caused the accident fled the scene and you want to pursue damages on the underinsured motorist section of your own insurance policy, Wisconsin law provides that you must give immediate notice to your insurance company if the vehicle that caused the accident did not come into contact with your vehicle.
There are also other very important deadlines. If the person or party that caused the accident is an employee of any state, county, municipal, public school, or other governmental entity, a formal notice of claim must be filed within 120 days of the accident in order to preserve the right to collect damages at a later date.
While three years may seem like a long time, some deadlines are shorter. On top of that, personal injury claims often require a significant amount of time to prepare to ensure your best chances at recovery. An attorney will need to investigate the circumstances of your accident, interview witnesses, gather evidence of negligence and of your losses, and draft the complaint in accordance with Wisconsin rules of civil procedure. For this reason, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible so that he or she can begin building a strong and effective case.
Do Not Hesitate to Consult with a Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney Today
Too many injured victims delay in speaking with an attorney because they do not want the added stress or expense of a legal claim. However, you can rest assured that the Appleton personal injury attorneys and Green Bay personal injury attorneys at Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. will handle your case skillfully and efficiently on your behalf so that you do not have to stress about legal developments. Please call us at 920-739-7366 to set up a free consultation at one of our offices in Appleton, Green Bay, New London, or Oshkosh today.