Many times when an individual or family is confronted with a catastrophic brain injury or spinal cord injury the last thing on their mind is a potential legal claim against the person who caused the injury. Families dealing with a catastrophic injury for the first time face a host of decisions which must be made immediately: decisions about rehabilitation, care, therapy, and funding are among the most pressing decisions that must be made. However, if a brain injury or spinal cord injury was caused by a traumatic event such as an auto accident or other accident, there are additional legal decisions the family must also eventually make: should we consider filing a claim against the person who caused the accident? Do I have a case? Do I need to hire a lawyer?
Because the more pressing questions regarding care and recovery must be addressed immediately, legal questions about a potential personal injury case are often put on the back burner until the family has time to catch their breath. The good news is that most of the legal decisions a family has to make can usually be postponed until things have settled down. In most states, a family usually has at least several months, if not a year or more, under the various state “statutes of limitations.” A statute of limitations is the time period established by a state’s law that determines how long an accident victim or their family has to file a claim or lawsuit. A family should verify the statute of limitations that might apply to their case as soon as possible. The good news is that in most cases the law usually gives a family a reasonable period of time to make decisions regarding hiring a lawyer or filing a claim.
In addition to checking the applicable statute of limitations for filing a claim, there are at least two additional things a family should consider doing immediately after an accident to protect themselves and to make sure that any potential personal injury claims are preserved. Two important things that should not be postponed are first, making sure that the evidence involved in the accident has been preserved, and second, making sure to notify your own insurance company that you have had an accident.