As soon as you are physically able!
I often have clients ask me when is the right time to call an attorney after an accident. Whether it's a bike accident, slip and fall, an auto accident or any other type of incident that gives rise to possible liability, I always tell clients to call me as soon as possible. Why? Well, there are several reason but let's just look at the top few:
1. Insurance Companies will try to get you to make statements that they WILL USE against you BEFORE you have an attorney.
More and more, I hear from clients who have had insurance adjusters or representatives from the Defendats' companies contact them before they've had the chance to talk to an attorney. In several cases, the adjuster or claims representative has actually arrived at the scene of an accident before the police or the ambulance. Often, they'll ask "are you alright?" More often than not, they aren't doing this to see if you're genuinely alright. They are doing this because they know a person's natural instincts are to say "I'm okay." Additionally, in the case of many soft tissue injuries, the person won't begin to feel extreme pain until the next day or until their adrenaline has returned to normal. But once the "I'm okay bell" has been rung, there is no unringing it. That adjuster will use that innocent statement to try to minimize compensation for your injuries or even deny that there arre any injuries at all.
2. It's FREE!
We NEVER charge for your intital consultation. And even after the initial consultation, we normally take personal injury cases on a contigency basis - that means: that if we don't win your case, we don't get paid for our feees.
3. The Sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you can move on with your life.
The first few days after an accident occurs can be hectic. You may be hospitalized or incapacitated. A good lawyer can relieve some of that stress by helping make sure your car will be repaired or replaced, that your work documents any wage losses you may incur and that your doctors know not to ruin your credit and that they will be paid once the case is settled or litigated.
I often get asked: Can't I just do it myself? I have Google and want to save the money.
Doing it yourself, doesn't mean you're going to save money. According to a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), settlements for individuals involved in car accidents (one of the most frequent personal injury claims) are 40% greater when plaintiffs hire an attorney rather than going it alone. A separate report submitted by the IRC states that “85 percent of all the dollars that are paid out by insurance companies for bodily injury claims are paid to clients who have hired an attorney.” Not only that, but the average insurance payouts are 3.5 times higher for clients who hire legal representation.
More often that not, resolving an accident claim requires an in-depth knowledge of the law that you simply won't get from Google AND each type of accident case has a myriad of nuances.
As Abraham Lincoln once said, "A person who represents himself, has a fool for a client."
So, when is the best time to call a lawyer? As soon as you are physically able.