How soon do I need to notify people about my intention to file a claim for my accident injuries?
- July 29, 2016
If you have been hurt in an accident, it may be a good idea to inform any responsible parties of your intention to sue as soon as possible. While there may not be a hard deadline to declare your intentions, doing so quickly may bolster your case. It may also make it more likely that you get a fair and timely settlement from the party or parties responsible for your injuries.
Taking Legal Action Against the Government
Injured victims who are taking legal action against a government agency may need to declare their intent to sue within six months of the accident. That timeline may be accelerated depending on the injuries you suffer and what type of accident you were involved in. If you hire an attorney, he or she will be able to advise you of your obligations and make sure that you file the necessary paperwork in time.
Taking Legal Action Against an Individual
If you were hurt by an individual, it is a good idea to state your intention to sue even if you think that the case can be settled out of court. Doing so protects your rights while not obligating you to take a case to trial. It essentially says that you are serious about getting a fair settlement and will do whatever it takes to do so.
Ideally, the insurance company or other entity representing the person who hurt you will settle the case quickly as a settlement may be better than spending time and money in court. However, make sure that you don’t take a settlement without talking to your attorney as insurance companies are a for-profit business, which means their main concern is giving you as little money as possible to make the case go away.
Make Sure You Know the Statutes of Limitation
One of the most important things to keep in mind during the legal process is the statute of limitations on injury claims. If you are over the age of 20, you have two years to file a claim. If you are under the age of 20, you generally have until your 20th birthday to pursue a claim regardless of when it happened. In some cases, the parents of a minor victim may have already pursued a case and won compensation. While it doesn’t necessarily preclude you from taking action on your own if new details emerge about your case, it could significantly impact how much you could win if you decided to reopen your case.
Take Time to Gather Relevant Information Before Going Forward
Before you either sue or pursue a settlement of your case, make sure that you have as much evidence as possible. This means that you should get a statement from your doctor or anyone who has seen you, seek out witnesses and take pictures of the accident scene to verify your version of events. The more information that your attorney has to work with, the easier it will be to settle your case in a timely manner.
However, your attorney will generally be able to get medical records, talk to witnesses or get other information if you were not able to provide it right away. If you called police to the scene of the accident, there should be a full report that can be used as evidence at trial or during settlement talks.
If you have been hurt, you may want to start the legal process as soon as possible. While you are not obligated to file a lawsuit or take any other action against the person who hurt you, making your intentions known quickly preserves your legal rights. This makes it easier to pursue a case in the future if you feel it is necessary.