Why Consult with an Attorney Soon After an Accident?

Whether you've been involved in a serious accident before or not, you've likely heard about the importance of contacting an attorney as soon as possible. You may also be surprised to hear that it's true. Contacting an attorney soon after you've been in an accident is - in fact - critical to the success of your overall case.

Though the first and highest priority after an accident should be obtaining emergency medical care (if necessary), there are a number of reasons why early, aggressive attorney representation can be beneficial, including but not limited to evidentiary and investigatory benefits, witness identification, insurer communication, and more.

Let's take a look at some of the ways in which consulting an attorney early on can improve your chance of success during litigation.

Compliance with Statute of Limitations

In California, as in all other states, your accident injury claims have a deadline by which they must be filed. This is known as the statute of limitations. If you fail to file your claim by the statute of limitations deadline, then you will be prohibited from litigating the claim and will therefore be unable to recover damages.

California injury claims are covered by a statute of limitations period of just two years from the date of injury. Further, if you have a claim against any public defendants (i.e., a city, or a public organization or department), then you must file your initial claim against the government within six months of the date of injury.

If you work with an attorney early on in the process, then your attorney will ensure that your claim is filed - and in a manner that is procedurally correct - before the passing of the applicable statute of limitations deadline.

Handles Insurers

After an accident, as a general rule, it is not a good idea to speak with an insurance company or its representatives (e.g. a claims adjuster) on your own. Insurers are not your allies. They are constantly looking to minimize their potential payout. To avoid saying anything that could hurt your case, you'll want to have an attorney with you to represent your interests. Insurers engage in tactics that include, but are not limited, to: recording your statements, attempting to negotiate an unfavorable compromise, fear-mongering, and more.

Experienced attorneys - like Brian O' Grady - know how to communicate with insurers effectively so that your potential recovery is maximized. After an accident, insurers will swoop in early, so it's important to work with an attorney early on, too.

Helps Avoid Damaging Statements

The statements you make - whether at the scene of an accident, or elsewhere - can have serious consequences for the success of your injury claim. Though not all statements can be admitted into evidence, certain statements (for example, statements of admission) can be admitted into evidence and thereafter used against you. Even if you make certain statements that are later not entered into evidence, the very fact that you have made statements that could potentially hurt your case will make it more difficult to obtain a favorable result during settlement negotiations.

How does an attorney help?

An attorney will essentially act as your full legal representative and guide. Before you communicate with any relevant parties, your attorney will speak with you to ensure that you are aware of what statements you can and cannot make. In some situations, you can simply have your attorney speak for you, thus protecting you from the risk of making a misstatement.

Investigates Events and Identifies Witnesses

After an accident has occurred, you must investigate the circumstances of the accident event and begin building your case. When you work with an attorney, he or she will begin a concurrent investigation of the accident and will begin identifying witnesses, experts, and other relevant parties to the case.

Identifying witnesses is critical to the success of your case. For example, if you have been injured in a pedestrian accident while walking across a local street, then you will want to call witnesses who can corroborate the sequence of events and lend credence to your overall claims.

You will also want to identify all the relevant parties early on. For example, if you have been injured in a rear-end motor vehicle accident, it may initially seem as though there's only one defendant (the defendant-driver), but further investigation may show that there are other defendants, such as the car manufacturer, another driver on the road, the city, and various others.


To setup a free consultation with an experienced and skilled San Jose personal injury and breach of contract attorney, call the Law Offices of Brian O' Grady at (650) 318-6131 today.