Not too soon, but not too late. (How’s that for sounding like a lawyer!)
Not Too Soon
“Not too soon” means you should not try to settle you injury claim until you have recovered from your injuries and, therefore, know the full extent of your claim.
To negotiate your injury claim, you will have to tell a story — the story of what caused your injuries and how they affected your life. And you won’t know the full extent of the harms you have suffered until you have recovered and returned to your pre-accident health.
You only get one injury settlement. If, hypothetically, you settle your injury claim on a Monday and learn on Tuesday that your injuries are worse than you thought, that you will need an operation and will be out of work for 3 months and will not fully recover for a year, do you know how much more you can recover because of the new information?
That’s right. Nothing.
Don’t let this happen to you. Do not begin negotiations until you are fully recovered. If your doctor says you won’t fully recover, that you will have permanent consequences of your injuries, you can proceed once your doctor tells you that you have reached “maximum medical improvement.” When you get to that point, you know as much as possible about “your story” that you will tell when you make your injury claim.
Not Too Late
On the other hand, you cannot wait too long to make your claim.
There are deadlines called Statutes of Limitations in each state. Before the deadline, you must either settle your claim or file a case in court. (You don’t have to complete the court case before the deadline, you just have to file it.)
On top of that, if your claim is against a government, there is even a shorter – perhaps much shorter – deadline for putting them on notice of your claim.
These deadlines are unforgiving, so please make sure you know them and comply with them.
If you have a lawyer representing you, your accident and injury lawyer will make sure you comply with all rules and will decide on the timing of your claim.
**These questions and answers are designed to provide helpful information that can be read quickly. They are neither a full explanation of the subject nor legal advice. To learn more, and to receive legal advice on which you can rely, contact me or another lawyer.