Legal Lessons Week 4 - when Should I Talk to An Attorney?
Dear Attorney Norton,
I was in an accident last week. When should I talk to an attorney?
- Please Help
Dear Please Help,
If you have been injured in an accident, it is important to seek legal advice immediately. Evidence can be lost or even destroyed by at-fault drivers or their insurance companies. Evidence that is important to preserve includes witness names, surveillance or dash camera videos, photographs, 911 call tapes, witness statements, and damaged vehicles. Vehicles are repaired, or crushed, and video is often taped over if it is not preserved. Memories fade and witnesses move. Skid marks at accident scenes will also be gone before long.
In more serious cases, it may be important to have an expert witness obtain data from the computers in each car. These computers are similar to the "black box" in an airplane that automatically records data. Motor vehicle black boxes can contain valuable information to prove your case. Some things that a car computer may record include: speeds of vehicles before a collision, whether a turn signal was used, if the driver applied the brakes, and if seat belts were being used.
Someone needs to make sure all of the evidence is preserved. This includes obtaining witness statements, speaking to experts, working with the police to acquire reports and 911 tapes, and meeting with experts. An attorney can also write letters to the insurance companies to ensure that all relevant evidence is preserved and not destroyed. Finally, it is important to know your rights before speaking to the insurance companies that will want you to give a recorded statement. Because most attorneys will not charge for a case review, you should speak with one as soon as possible after your accident.
You may submit your questions, or talk to an attorney, free of charge, by e-mail at email@example.com.