It is only too late to get a car accident lawyer if you’ve already accepted a settlement and signed a waiver releasing the other party of liability.
Other than that, no specific time limit exists for when you should get a car accident attorney. However, it is generally safer not to wait too long after the crash before you start looking for a lawyer. Filing for a settlement can take months. As such, procrastinating on getting an attorney can make it more difficult for the both of you to work together on the claim or case—much less get a settlement from the liable party.
Do Filing Deadlines Affect the Time I Have for Finding a Lawyer?
Indiana car accident cases typically have a statute of limitations of only two years (IC § 34-11-2-4). If a city government worker caused the collision, you would only have a filing deadline of 180 days (IC § 34-13-3-8).
That means you must finish bringing the suit and file it within the given time limit. So, if you want to work with a lawyer on your case, you would have to find one while the statute clock still has ample time left.
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What Problems Could I Face If I Take Too Long to Get a Lawyer?
Getting started at the last minute can lead to various issues for both you and the car accident lawyer, such as:
You might not find enough evidence to support your statements, as some types of information might get lost over time. For example, other drivers who were at the scene during the incident might have later deleted their dashcam footage.
With less proof to back you up, the court or claims adjuster might place more liability on you instead. Since Indiana follows a comparative fault rule, your recoverable damages could get deducted based on your fault percentage. With sufficient evidence, you may be able to challenge allegations of shared fault.
Missing Expense Records
You may have also already lost some records of your accident-related expenses, like transportation costs and auto repair invoices. As a result, the lawyer would be unable to get a more accurate estimate of your total damages, which could lead to an insufficient settlement amount.
Not Enough Time to Finish
Other personal matters might come up that could get in the way of the case’s progress. As a result, you and your lawyer might run out of time and miss the filing deadline. It would permanently bar you from recovering damages through a lawsuit.
When Should I Call a Car Accident Lawyer?
It could be beneficial to work with an accident lawyer as soon as possible after the incident, as they can promptly help you get started on your insurance claim or accident case.
You could even call them while you are still at the crash scene. They would be able to guide you on your duties after the accident, which can help you avoid unintentionally violating any laws. The attorney can also remind you of other important steps to take, such as taking photos of the collision for evidence.
No matter where you are in your car accident claim or lawsuit process, a lawyer could still be able to help. You could still get a lawyer if:
- You were just in an accident.
- You are just starting to file an insurance claim.
- An adjuster has made you a low settlement offer.
- The other party is threatening a lawsuit, or you want to explore filing suit.
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What Are the Other Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Early?
Here are the other advantages of getting a car accident lawyer shortly after the crash:
More Time to Work on the Case
You and the lawyer would have a more relaxed timetable to work on your case. If other priorities come up, you would not be as pressed for time once you can work on the suit again.
Moreover, the attorney can check your case for tolling exceptions much earlier. Tolling exceptions are special circumstances that can move your filing deadline. For instance, if you have a legal disability after the accident—such as if you are temporarily in a coma—you may be granted a tolling exception.
The sooner you and the lawyer get started on your claim or case, the fresher the evidence will be. There would be fewer chances of the evidence getting lost, deleted, or tampered with.
Get a More Accurate Damage Estimate
The car accident lawyer can also start compiling your crash-related expenses after you begin your medical treatments or car repairs. Since they can help ensure all relevant costs and losses are documented, you would get a more accurate idea of how much your recoverable damages will be.
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Our Lawyers Are Ready to Help
It may not be too late to get a car accident lawyer. Get legal assistance now to start building your case by consulting our Indiana car accident attorney first. We can guide you on the various laws and requirements that apply to you.
Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law Firm, P.C. has been helping injury victims in Indiana since 1985. We are here to provide our legal knowledge to you, so you can contact us anytime through this website or call our 24/7 team.