When Is It Too Late to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney?

After being injured in a Virginia car accident, many victims are in shock and unsure of what to do. They might also be severely injured, in pain, and trying to deal with their personal injuries in the hospital or at home. For most people, it takes some time to process exactly what happened, and even then they may be unsure if they actually need a Virginia personal injury attorney. At Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp, our experienced Hampton personal injury attorneys know that, for many Hampton Virginia accident victims, the thought of reaching out to an attorney is a little scary. However, the longer you wait the more challenging your case will be to resolve. If you wait too long and the statute of limitations expires, you may lose your right to pursue compensation altogether. If you were injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, don’t wait. Call us today to schedule a free consultation. 

What is the Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Claim in Virginia?

All states have a statute of limitations that delineates how long you have to file a claim against the party who caused your accident. The deadline for those over 18 years of age, pursuant to Virginia law, is normally two years from the day the accident took place. If this deadline lapses before you file, your case will be time-barred and likely dismissed by the court. Although there are some exceptions to this rule, they are few and far between. It is also worth noting that even if your claim is filed just under the wire, it could be too late to build a compelling case against the at-fault party, for many reasons outlined below.

When Is It Too Late to Call an Attorney?

The only way to know for certain that it is too late for an attorney to help is to meet with one. You should never simply give up on seeking legal aid. 

One reason it may be too late for a skilled Hampton personal injury attorney to take your car accident claim is that it takes a considerable amount of time to build a strong case. Waiting till the last minute to speak with an attorney can be highly problematic, because:  

  • Evidence could be destroyed or lost: This can include pictures or videos of the accident scene, your physical injuries, and damage to your vehicle. In some cases, it may also include data from an event data recorder in one of the motor vehicles or trucks.
  • Eyewitness testimony becomes unreliable: Even the most credible of eyewitnesses becomes less reliable over time as their memories of the accident start to fade. They have no stake in the outcome of your case, making it unlikely they retained any notes or reports. Additionally, months after the accident, they may be impossible to locate, witnesses changed jobs, they moved out of state, or they changed their phone number.
  • There isn’t enough time to build a strong case: There are numerous steps involved in the civil legal process, from investigating the cause of the accident (there are innumerable resources to tap into, that vary by the type of claim and are not repeated here) and having the evidence to build a credible case of liability undergird obtaining a fair settlement amount with the at-fault party’s insurer and more.

Most attorneys are unlikely to take cases they do not think have a chance for success. This tends to be especially true of law firms that operate on a contingency fee basis, as most personal injury firms do. Why? Because personal injury attorneys are not paid unless they investigate a case that they think can be successfully handled, and negotiate a settlement or win a verdict, all with the approval of the personal injury client.

Why Do So Many Accident Victims Postpone Speaking With an Attorney? 

It is not uncommon for people to postpone calling a Hampton car accident attorney until several weeks or even months after their accident. Some reasons accident victims decide to wait to contact an attorney include:  

  • Concerns about the expense: Not every accident victim knows that most reputable personal injury attorneys take cases on contingency retainer. Doing so gives those who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence access to qualified legal representation regardless of their socioeconomic status, and they don’t have any out-of-pocket expense to the attorney unless the attorney successfully negotiates a settlement or wins a verdict.
  • It is intimidating: For many, the idea of meeting with a personal injury attorney is daunting which causes them to delay reaching out for help. Unfortunately, waiting to seek reliable legal counsel can, and likely will, adversely affect the outcome of your injury claim.
  • They think they share fault for the crash: After an accident, you should always let an experienced personal injury attorney, and when relevant, potentially their investigators, develop the evidence of who is truly materially at fault. If you have an attorney managing your case from the beginning, they can fight to make sure that you are not unfairly assigned fault by an insurance company looking out for its profit margins.

Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

The best time to seek legal representation for a Hampton, VA car accident claim is as soon as possible after the incident. The experienced Hampton car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can handle all communications on your behalf, walk you through the legal process, and ensure you do not make any mistakes that will ultimately decrease your claim’s value. We maintain a Hampton personal injury law firm satellite office in Hampton, Virginia very close to the Hampton Circuit Courthouse. It’s convenient if we have to go to a hearing or trial but it’s also convenient for persons fairly close to the Hampton, Virginia area and potentially closer to Hampton than our Virginia Beach main office. These factors contributed to how we secured a $675,000 settlement for a client who was seriously injured when he was rear-ended by a negligent driver despite having pre-existing medical conditions. If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team, call us at (833) 997-1774 or fill out our simple contact form. Our offices are located in Hampton, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Portsmouth.