My best clients didn't know how bad they needed me right away. So often
I hear people say, "My friend is in the hospital after a horrific
accident, but the family wants the dust to settle before they do anything
with a lawyer." This makes me uncomfortable in so many ways, I usually
lose hours of sleep. Here is why that family needs me right away, no matter
what kind of personal injury or wrongful death case it is:
Preserve the Perpetrators Evidence
Logically, if a company is facing losing a lot of money because the video
they recorded shows their employees causing a terrible accident, then
they likely will not go out of their way to keep that video safe and preserved
unless they have to. It is your lawyer's job to force them to preserve
that evidence. Your lawyer does this by writing "spoliation"
letters to the defendant or their insurance company, demanding that they
preserve records, videos, physical evidence, transcripts, recordings,
etc. The consequences for losing or destroying this evidence could be
too damning and monumental for the defendant to overcome at trial.
Preserve Your Evidence
Your brother slipped and fell on an invisible wet slick surface in a supermarket
and fractured his skull. He needs emergency care and a few weeks later
all is well and he's back on his feet. Two months later after seeing
the mountains of bills he owes, he comes to me. Of course I'm most
interested in what he slipped on, how long it was there, and how it got
there, but I also am concerned with what the supermarket's defenses
will be. I tell him I need to take possession of the shoes he was wearing,
and he tells me he gave them to Goodwill a month ago. My heart sinks because
I know one of the defenses will be that maybe your brother had old, worn,
slick shoes, with no tread. In every injury or wrongful death case, preserving
YOUR evidence is critical. I tell my clients to write down everything
they remember happening, take pictures of injuries, take pictures of the
cars or property involved, find all witnesses and get their statements.
If there is blood I tell them to keep the clothes they were wearing. If
your friend is in the hospital, take a picture of them on that bed. Every
case is different and with each of my clients, I think of different pieces
of evidence that will be helpful for my clients. The longer somebody waits,
the harder it will be to preserve these valuable tools necessary to prove
your case. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so he/she can tell you
what they need.
Time Sensitivity for Means of Recovery – Uninsured Motorist Coverage
More immediately important than the usual two year statute of limitations
deadline is acting quickly enough to preserve every avenue of recovery
possible. What if the guy that hurt you is underinsured or not insured
at all? My injured client was a "hit and run" victim and they
hired me three months after the accident. Pursuant to the language of
the insurance policy, the insurance carrier tried to deny the uninsured
motorist claim based on them not receiving actual written notice of the
accident from my client within 30 days of the incident, even though they
knew of the accident based on the numerous conversations with my client
before the 30 day deadline. A competent personal injury lawyer will send
written notice to your UM carrier in all cases, no exceptions.
Also worth mentioning is that government entities require "ante-litem"
notice of the personal injury incident usually within six months of the
accident in order to recover from them.
Ruthless Creditors / Lienholders
One of my clients was seriously injured and incurred over $900,000 in
medical bills. A month after the accident, he was moved to a rehab center
and his mother was up to her neck in collection calls and bills from creditors
demanding their $900,000. Good personal injury firms will immediately
send cease-and-desist letters to these creditors telling them that you
are represented and your case is pending resolution of a personal injury
claim. This almost always will stop the calls and letters.
Insurance Companies Want to Close the Case Yesterday.
Most auto and casualty insurance companies call the victim or their family
the same day as the accident. They want statements, and to resolve the
case in days if they can. They assure the victim that they will take care
of everything and offer peanuts for the victim's pain and suffering.
As soon as the victim starts asking questions, the claims adjuster's
answers get shorter and nastier. They will keep calling until they close
the case, or until you are represented by a lawyer. Insurance companies
are not there for you. They want to pay minimal claims and increase profit
margins. Your attorney's "letter of representation" forces
them to stop calling you.
Ferguson & Paisley, we understand it may be difficult to immediately hire a lawyer when you
or a loved one is injured because of someone's negligence. We cannot
wait until the dust settles if we are going to maximize the value of your
case. Families may delegate this initial task to someone close, and that
person can assist with the more tedious issues. Our job is to take all
the pressure off you so you can heal, get better, live life again, and
get you compensation for your medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Call our firm today for a free case evaluation.
James Paisley is a partner at Ferguson & Paisley, LLC, and represents
personal injury and wrongful death claims.