Understanding the legal steps to take after you or a loved one are seriously injured in an auto accident is important and will alleviate a lot of the anxiety and help you or your loved one recover physically, emotionally, and financially. If you or a loved one are seeking to recover compensation from the at-fault driver, there are many important parts of the process to complete in a timely manner.
The Absolute Limit – No Compensation May Be Pursued Once the Statute of Limitations Have Expired
Every jurisdiction in the United States has a statute of limitations, and these statutes of limitations can vary in length from two years up to four years (or more). If you attempt to file a car accident lawsuit after the statute of limitations has run (as measured from the date your accident occurred), the other party who you allege caused your injuries can easily secure a dismissal of your case from the court. Such a dismissal would occur no matter how egregious the other party’s conduct was in the accident nor how great the amount of your losses and expenses. Therefore, you should always plan to have your lawsuit filed and case commenced well in advance of the statute of limitations’ expiration.
Is Your Car Accident Suit Ready to Be Filed?
You know when the absolute latest time you can file your car accident lawsuit is, but what about the most advantageous time? As you might expect, there is no one “right” time to file a car accident lawsuit that is applicable to all situations. The circumstances of each specific car accident will determine when an appropriate time to file suit occurs. However, this “advantageous time” is usually a time when:
- Evidence and witnesses necessary to support your claims are discovered: In order for you to have a reasonable chance at success with your lawsuit, you will need evidence and/or witnesses that can corroborate your claims and assertions. Your allegation that the other driver was doing about 25 miles an hour over the posted speed limit is much more credible when a traffic camera caught him or her doing just that or a disinterested eyewitness came to the same conclusion as you about the other person’s speed. While other evidence and information will undoubtedly come up after your lawsuit is filed, it is beneficial to wait to file a lawsuit until you have some idea of what evidence and witnesses are available to support your suit.
- You are in a position to reasonably estimate your past and future harm: Once your lawsuit is over (either because of a settlement or because you have prevailed at trial), you are almost always prevented from “reopening” your case to seek additional compensation. For example, if you request $50,000 for your future medical expenses and are awarded this amount, you are unable to reopen your case to seek additional compensation if that $50,000 is not sufficient to fully compensate you. Therefore, you must be patient and wait to file your car accident lawsuit until you have had an adequate opportunity to fully assess your situation and determine the amount of compensation you would need for all of your past and future expenses.
- You have had an opportunity to speak to a lawyer: It is essential that you understand your legal rights and all of the avenues in which you can recover compensation. There are many misconceptions about the car accident lawsuit process, and having an experienced car accident attorney to assist you in separating fact from fiction can help you be better prepared for the challenges, difficulties, and delays that are often present in car accident lawsuits. Some studies have shown that
- You have made some recovery and regained some stability in your life: Car accident lawsuits can be extremely stressful to you, and experiencing additional stress can negatively impact the speed and quality of your recovery. It can be difficult to remember to make meetings with your attorney while also participating heavily in physical therapy or while you are on powerful painkillers. While you should always be mindful of the statute of limitations, usually even the stricter, two-year statutes of limitations will afford you with enough time to get your recovery off to a good start and regain some control over your life before you must file your lawsuit.
- You have considered the tactical decisions about your car accident lawsuit: There is more that goes into deciding to file a car accident lawsuit than simply wanting compensation for your injuries. You must also give some consideration to the question of where you will file your lawsuit. This is not an inconsequential decision: there may be several jurisdictions where your car accident lawsuit can be heard, each with its own laws and rules. You will want to consider which of the jurisdictions available to you would be most beneficial to your lawsuit and your chances for success.
The decision to file suit after a car accident that leaves you or a loved one injured is a significant decision. You should not feel as if you need to make this decision alone or without guidance. Parker Waichman LLP has helped countless car accident victims recover compensation for their injuries and losses, and we can help you do the same.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP FOR A FREE CASE REVIEW
Did you or a loved one suffer an injury due to an accident caused by a negligent driver? Parker Waichman LLP helps victims and families receive justice and full monetary compensation for harm caused by an accident. Trust your case with our motor vehicle accident lawyers. For a free consultation, contact our law firm today by using our live chat or calling 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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