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How Long Can I Wait After a Car Accident to Find a Lawyer?

Whenever you’re involved in a car accident, your wisest course of action is to contact an experienced local car accident lawyer as quickly as possible. Why? Because the sooner you have a lawyer working on your behalf, the easier your life will be with regard to making an insurance claim, defending against any lawsuit that one of the other drivers brings against you or filing such a lawsuit yourself.

Statute of Limitations

As a car accident lawyer in Philadelphia PA from a law office like the Wieand Law Firm can explain, each state has its own laws governing how long you have to file a lawsuit after the accident occurs. Called statutes of limitations, these laws vary from state to state and often even within a state depending on who you sue. Most states provide for a 2-3 year window of opportunity, but some states give you a longer time in which to file and a few states have very strict statutes of limitations providing for a year or less. This is one reason why it’s so important to contact a local car accident lawyer as soon as possible. He or she will know which statute of limitations applies to you and your situation.

Preservation of Evidence

Another very good reason to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident is that evidence tends to deteriorate over time. Even a few days’ wait may erase skid marks or other evidence on the road if the weather becomes inclement. Also, the sooner your lawyer can interview witnesses the better. Like physical evidence, people’s memories tend to deteriorate over time. Consequently, your lawyer needs access to witnesses as quickly as possible so as to get the most accurate descriptions of what they saw.

Determining Fault

Since virtually all auto accident lawsuits are grounded in negligence, it’s critical to determine which driver’s negligence caused your accident and therefore your injuries. Car accident lawyers are especially good at conducting a thorough independent investigation to determine which driver was at fault. This is the person you will sue because this is the person legally liable for causing your injuries.

Depending on the precise circumstances surrounding your accident, you may also be able to add the driver’s employer, the vehicle’s manufacturer or retailer, or the city or county responsible for road maintenance to your list of defendants. All of these, in turn, may determine which statute of limitations applies to your lawsuit.

Insurance Company Negotiations

Keep in mind that virtually all personal injury lawsuits begin with negotiations between the plaintiff’s lawyer and the lawyers and adjusters representing the defendant’s insurance company. Here again, an experienced local car accident lawyer probably has dealt with this company in the past and therefore knows how much it is likely willing to offer as a settlement so as to avoid going to trial.


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