A man we’ll call “Sam” was severely hurt in a car accident and three months later searched Google for, in his words, a “personal injury lawyer near me.” Eventually, he found a personal injury lawyer to represent him.
Trouble is, Sam waited too long to hire an accident attorney.
What often makes or breaks a personal injury case is evidence. Unfortunately, evidence can disappear over time.
In Sam’s case, there was a traffic video camera posted near the scene of the accident. The video camera pointed at the accident site. The video footage proved that the other driver was at fault for the crash.
But the State of New Jersey only keeps the video footage seven days. By the time Sam hired his lawyer, the State had long discarded the video.
Then there was the witness to the accident. Her name was Barbara. She was ready to testify that Sam was not at fault. Unluckily for Sam, Barbara moved out of the area two months after the incident. No one can find her now.
The accident also left skid marks on the road. The skid marks clearly demonstrated that the other party was in the wrong. But, by the time Sam hired a lawyer, the skid marks were gone.
The real “kicker ” came when Sam’s lawyer discovered that the other driver was an on-duty government worker. Under New Jersey law, accident victims who get hurt because of governmental negligence generally only have 90 days to serve something called a “Notice of Tort Claim.”
If the accident victim or his lawyer doesn’t properly serve the Notice of Tort Claim in time, the victim loses his claim. Simple as that.
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A Personal Injury Lawyer Needs Evidence Promptly
Now, in extraordinary circumstances, the 90-day “notice of tort claim” deadline can be extended to up to one year from the accident date. But attempts to do so are often not successful.
Indeed, Sam’s lawyer tried, but the judge ruled that missing the deadline was due to Sam’s own fault. He should have hired a lawyer sooner. While Sam was hurt badly, it’s not like he was in coma and couldn’t have hired an attorney earlier.
In short, by delaying to hire a personal injury attorney, Sam lost his case.
Sam’s story is actually a fictional narrative that I composed. But the lesson of the tale is totally true: If you are the victim of an accident of any kind, whether a car crash, slip and fall, medical malpractice, mesothelioma, etc., don’t delay. Hire a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can. If you don’t, it may cost you.
Accident cases are one area of life where time is definitely not on your side.