We have seen some clients delay in hiring an attorney after their motor vehicle accidents. Some clients delay either because they are waiting to heal from their injuries, they want to interview a number of attorneys, they want to consult with family and friends, or they have the mistaken impression that there is “no rush” to hire a lawyer.
All of these assumptions are mistakes.
Delay is the injured person’s worst enemy because:
a) A police accident report must be obtained within 30 days. After 30 days the police report will leave the precinct and will be sent to Albany. It may take 6 months or more to order the report from Albany. The police report is always necessary especially for the purpose of filing for medical benefits and lost income which is discussed below. The police report helps us identify the parties to the claim and lawsuit as well as their insurance companies.
b) The injured person must file for No Fault within 30 days. No Fault pays the injured person’s claims for medical expense, other expense, and lost income. This is a very strict time limit. Failure to file on time will result in a denial of all medical and lost income! See our related article, “The 30 Day Rule in Automobile Accidents”.
c) The injured motorist must file his own accident report with DMV within 10 days. The injured motorist must file his own accident report (MV-104) with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident.
d) The lawyer’s investigation must be done early. The most effective investigation must be done closer in time to the accident. Photos of the scene should be made before the site changes due to construction or road closures. It is easier to get witness statements earlier in time.
Therefore, we urge that you seek an attorney immediately after the accident.
Mark E. Seitelman, www.seitelman.com, 6/21/08.