4 Pieces of Information You Should Know When You Call a Lawyer
When you are involved in an accident and you need to consult an attorney, you will need to be prepared to have a detailed discussion with the attorney. Whether you were a pedestrian, driving a car, or riding a bicycle attorneys will likely raise specific issues for discussion. Here are five facts that you will want to know when you seek legal advice from a personal injury attorney:
When did it happen?
One of the threshold pieces of information that a lawyer will need is when the accident occurred. The reason for this is that state laws impose time bars on legal action called "statutes of limitation." These statutes require that legal claims arising out of an event be brought within a specified time period.
The purpose of time bars is to provide certainty in our everyday affairs. Moreover, memories fade and evidence gets lost. Trying to figure out exactly what happened after a long period has passed can be difficult.
For example, if you were to consult Southern California personal injury attorneys about an accident 20 years ago when you were riding a bicycle attorneys would likely advise you that you could have a significant issue regarding the statute of limitations. On the other hand, if you seek out attorneys for the same accident within a few months after being hit on your bicycle attorneys would likely be less concerned about any time bar issues.
Who was involved?
An attorney will want to know who was involved in the accident for a few reasons.
- The attorney will want to make sure that everyone who was injured is receiving any necessary medical treatment and is represented either by the attorney or by another attorney. For example, if your entire family was in the car during an accident, it will be important to tell the personal injury attorney who was in the car and the injuries each person may have suffered.
- The attorney will want to know who the other party in the accident was, and who his or her insurance company is. Without this information, the attorney may be limited in what he or she can do to represent your interests, except with your own insurance company.
- The attorney will want to know who may have witnessed the accident. For example, when consulting attorneys about a bicycle accident attorneys will want to know if anyone was riding behind you who might have seen what happened.
Where did the accident happen?
There may be a few reasons the location of the accident is relevant to an attorney.
- The attorney will want to know if there are any features at the accident site that may have contributed to the accident. For example, a blind corner, a sudden merge, or a broken traffic light might be relevant to your case.
- The attorney will want to know if the accident occurred on private property or a public street and whether a hazardous condition on the private property had some role in the accident. Depending on the nature of the hazard, the attorney may try to develop a legal theory to involve the property owners as well.
How did the accident happen?
While all these questions are important, this may be the most important. To establish legal liability, a lawyer must be able to prove certain facts in court or persuade an insurance company that he or she can prove them in court, if it comes to that. Bear in mind that over 95% of personal injury cases are settled without a trial.
Attorney-client confidentiality exists so that you can have a full and complete discussion, so try not to leave anything out. The attorney must piece together the series of events that caused the accident. This includes any role that you think might have contributed to your accident. For example, if you were talking on the phone when the accident occurred, a lawyer will want to know this, even if it ultimately proves to be irrelevant. Similarly, in an accident on a bicycle attorneys might want to know that the bicycle malfunctioned right before the accident.
Consulting a personal injury attorney is not a scary prospect. However, it is a serious matter and it pays to be prepared for the consultation.