Any type of accident that leaves you with a serious physical injury is a traumatic experience that can disrupt every one of your short-term plans and potentially even alter the course of your life. It’s a chaotic time, and adding a bunch of conversations with legal counsel to your plate may understandably seem like more stress you would rather avoid—but at the same time, doing this can be vital to protecting your best interests in the long term.
The best answer to the question of when you should contact a personal injury lawyer is “as soon as reasonably possible after getting hurt.” That said, there are a few things that you should know in advance that do not make contacting legal counsel any less important, but may impact exactly when and how you initially get in touch with them to discuss your legal options.
What Counts as Valid Grounds for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
One important thing to understand about personal injury litigation is that not every injury can necessarily serve as the basis for a civil lawsuit, including some injuries that stem entirely from another person’s reckless or careless actions. This is because one of the criteria for establishing legal negligence involves the relative severity of the injury.
More specifically, you need to be able to prove four things to file suit against someone else for injuring you:
- The other person—or defendant—owed you a duty to act responsibly in a specific way;
- That defendant then breached their duty by instead acting recklessly or carelessly;
- The defendant’s breach of duty was the direct cause of your injury; and
- Your injury was severe enough to require some form of professional medical care.
In other words, if you sustain a mild injury that will heal entirely on its own or with nothing more than basic first aid, you may not be able to sue over it even if all the other requirements for legal negligence are met.
For this reason, among several others, it is crucial to seek professional medical attention immediately after getting hurt in an accident and before contacting a personal injury lawyer. Once retained, dedicated legal counsel can help demand restitution for all your medical bills related to your injury, as well as various other economic and non-economic losses.
The Importance of Acting Quickly After Getting Seriously Hurt
Another factor that plays into the question of when you should contact a personal injury lawyer after getting injured through someone else’s negligence is the statute of limitations for civil claims. The statute of limitations is a deadline established under state law that limits how long someone injured in an accident can wait to pursue any kind of legal action over their injury.
For example, in Missouri, the statutory filing period for most personal injury claims is five years, generally beginning from the date the injury first occurred. However, it is generally best to contact a trusted personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later since important evidence may become harder to find—or disappear entirely—as time goes on following an accident. Call the experienced team of personal injury attorneys at OnderLaw today for the legal support you need and deserve.