How Quickly Should I Contact an Attorney After I Was Injured by Another Person?
If you suffered an injury due to the negligent or reckless behavior of an individual or company, you can contact an attorney immediately. Contacting an attorney does not mean that you are hiring an attorney, and a free consultation can help you better understand your situation and what you can do to preserve your legal rights.
How Can a Free Legal Consultation Benefit Me?
If you have been involved in an accident that resulted in injury, chances are you have a lot of questions. Nobody expects to be seriously injured in an accident and even fewer people understand the steps necessary to pursue financial compensation. This is not a time to “learn as you go.”
Consulting with an attorney will help you understand the potential pitfalls you may face in your pursuit of fair compensation. An attorney can also help you better understand what information can benefit your claim to recovery and what information may damage your claim.
Finally, having a sit down with an experienced attorney can help you understand the scope of your damages. The injuries you have sustained may not be immediately evident – the attorneys at Thomas J. Henry understand this and will advise that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
You deserve peace of mind following an accident. The sooner you consult with a knowledgeable attorney, the sooner you will be able to achieve a sense of stability.
What Do I Risk by Waiting to Contact an Attorney?
Many people view contacting an attorney as a last resort – an action that should be taken if the insurer of the negligent party fails to offer fair compensation. This is an unfortunate misconception. While you are taking the “wait and see” approach, the insurance company has representative and lawyers actively working to limit their financial liability.
Insurance companies do not have your best interest in mind. While they may seem cooperative while on the phone, behind the scenes they are doing everything they can to undermine your claim.
A common example of this is the “recorded statement.” The adjuster will claim that providing a recorded statement for reference will help them resolve you claim faster. What they won’t tell you is that they will compare the recorded statement to future conversations for inconsistencies, nor will they tell you that the recorded statement you are providing can be used against you in court.
Providing a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney can often result in:
Unintentional inconsistencies – Accidents that result in injury are hectic and disorienting. As time moves on, you will likely remember less and less about the events leading up to and following an accident. When an insurance company goes back to compare all the statements you made over a period of weeks or months, they will claim that any inconsistencies were attempts by you to mislead the company and label them as lies before a judge or a jury.
Exposure to trick questions– Representatives often ask trick questions or word their inquiries in a way meant to trick or trap you. You may even be pressured into agreeing to facts that are not completely accurate just to get the representative off your back. Even an aggravated response of “I don’t know, maybe” or “I guess” can come back to haunt you later.
Exposure to leading statements – Even a statement that seems innocent on its surface can damage your claim depending on your response. For example, by giving a positive response to statements like “I hope your back is starting to feel a bit better” or “Wow, it’s a miracle you weren’t more seriously injured”, you could be tricked into understating the severity of your injuries.
Failure to report undiagnosed injuries – Most doctors agree that the full extent of any injuries suffered in an accident may not be evident until several days after the accident has occurred. If a claims adjuster contacts you within 24 hours of an accident and asks about your injuries, chances are you will not be able to provide a complete list of injuries. This will not stop the insurance company from questioning and attempting to dismiss any injuries that became symptomatic after that initial recorded statement was made.
Provide material for cross-examination – By the time deposition or trial occurs, chances are the defense counsel will have reviewed your recorded statements dozens of times. They will craft questions for cross-examination with the understanding that you likely don’t remember everything you said or agreed to in that recorded statement. And when you misremember or contradict yourself in a moment of confusion, they will try to claim your misstatement proves your testimony is not credible.
When Should I Contact an Attorney?
When a serious injury or death occurred. If you or a loved one was seriously injured or killed in an accident, contact an attorney immediately. Hiring an attorney in a timely manner can help protect your rights and ensure that essential evidence is preserved. Serious injuries include broken bones, soft tissue damage, head and face injuries, neck and back injuries, or any other injury requiring hospitalization.
When a loss of wages occurs. If an accident has cost you time away from work and resulted in lost income, you may be able to recover those lost wages from the responsible party.
When a commercial vehicle is involved. If you were involved in an accident that involved a commercial vehicle, such as a delivery truck or an 18-wheeler, it is better to err on the side of caution. Accidents involving company vehicles can become complicated very quickly as company vehicles are subject to additional laws and regulations. You need an attorney who has the experience and resources to navigate these complex cases.
When there is contested liability. If there is any dispute about who caused the accident, an attorney can help you make sure that any fault determinations are correct. In Texas, civil litigation is decided on preponderance of evidence. This means that a party found to be 51% liable or more is unable to recover damages. Additionally, insurance companies will often dispute liability and assert their policyholder was not entirely responsible for a crash to mitigate payouts.
When you have questions. If you are ever unsure about your rights following an accident or have questions about how you should proceed, contact Thomas J. Henry for a free consultation. One of our experienced personal injury attorneys will review your case and help you determine if legal representation is right for you. Our attorneys are available to assist you 24/7, nights and weekends