Maybe the car beside you merged into your lane without looking, or the SUV behind you hit the brakes too late and rear-ended you. Whatever the case, you suffered injuries, and now you are left wondering if you need a lawyer. Whether you hire an attorney is your decision, but there are several reasons why you should consider an attorney after a car accident. At Tucker Yoder and Associates, we know when you have been in an accident – in an instant – your life has changed. Many people who have been injured in an accident have expressed that the crash, although frightening, is just the beginning.
If you decide to hire an attorney, it is best to hire one quickly, preferably within a few days of the collision. There are several deadlines you will be expected to meet, and an attorney can ensure they aren’t missed. The most common deadline is the statute of limitations, which in the state of New Mexico is set at three years for all personal injury claims. However, there are also other, lesser-known deadlines to be aware of. Depending on the type of insurance involved, some policies require that you notify the insurer of the collision “promptly” or “as soon as practical.” If a governmental entity is involved, then you may have to meet “ante litem” deadlines. If the at-fault driver was in a government vehicle, or your accident occurred because of negligent roadway maintenance, your deadline could be drastically reduced. In these cases, you may have as little as six months to file a claim. Missing deadlines can damage your case or result in dramatically reducing the compensation you are entitled to.
Evidence of an accident can be short-lived. Whether it is surveillance footage, roadway evidence, or the vehicle itself, it will need to be documented quickly. If a nearby business has a surveillance video of the accident, it’s important to secure the footage. However, oftentimes businesses keep surveillance footage for a short number of days. If you need to obtain a video of the collision, it’s best to move fast. Roadway evidence includes skid marks, debris such as broken headlights, or gouges on the surface of the road. This type of evidence can be quickly erased by wind, rain, or other traffic. Sometimes, the vehicles themselves are considered evidence. If your vehicle is required for evidence, photos and scans will need to be taken before repairs are made. Or in the case of a totaled vehicle, before the car is crushed or sold for scrap.
Memories can fade, and perceptions can alter over time. If witness testimony is important to your case, you will need to obtain statements quickly before their memory fades. There is a brief period of time where what they witnessed will be vivid in their minds. But over time, they can forget about what happened and become less motivated to share what they saw. An attorney can often take a verbal or written statement to preserve what the witness remembers accurately.
If you’ve been seriously injured, you are most likely not prepared for how much treatment you might require. From imaging like X-rays and CAT scans to specialists and physical therapy, the bills can quickly become overwhelming. Medical debt is a serious problem, even for people who have insurance. Hiring a personal injury attorney can give you the best chance of recuperating these costs.
If you are not injured, you may not need an attorney; however, don’t entirely rule it out. In certain situations, an attorney’s legal knowledge could be critical. The Insurance Research Council found that claimants who hire an attorney receive an average of 3 to 3 1/2 times more money than those who don’t. Insurance companies have whole teams working to ensure they pay out the least amount possible. Their focus is to look out for their best interest, not yours. That is why you need an attorney to put your best interests first.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident in the Farmington or Aztec area, give Tucker, Yoder and Associates a call. Your claim could involve more than one area of the law. Our offices will be able to advise you about the various claims you may be able to pursue. Your initial consultation is free, and we’ll explain upfront what you can expect as we work to recover your damages.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this blog/site is NOT, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. It is for general informational use only. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Further, this information does not create an attorney-client relationship.