If someone hurts you in an accident, you need to protect your claim (an attorney can help you with this). First you need to get as much information about the people involved in the accident as you can that is discussed in my other entry. Next, you need to understand there are numerous deadlines that could significantly affect your ability to file a lawsuit. For example, in Oregon, if you are injured by a drunk driver that consumed alcohol at a bar or someone’s house, you have 180 days from discovering the homeowner is involved to give notice that you were injured and that you may have claims against the bar or the homeowner. Failing to give notice, can prevent you from maintaining a claim. Similarly, both Washington and Oregon have specific requirements for you to notify a government entity (like a school or even some hospitals) that you are injured. Failure to give that notice can prevent you from maintaining a lawsuit.
Additionally, you have to file your claim within the “statute of limitations.” A “statute of limitations” is a specific time frame set by the state legislature that establishes how long you have to file a lawsuit against someone that caused your injuries. Statutes of limitations can differ depending on states. For example, in Washington, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to bring a lawsuit. But in Oregon, you only have 2 years to file a lawsuit.
Finally, you should not sign any documents (to release or settle your claim) until you are done treating your injuries. Once you sign a release or settle a claim (take money), you eliminate your ability to file a lawsuit at in the future. That means, if you settle, but discover additional injuries or if you see a doctor for longer than expected, the person that hurt you will not be responsible to pay your medical bills. So you need to be careful when signing a release.
An attorney will be able to help you identify important deadlines in your case and whether you should settle a claim, when, and for how much, or if you should go to trial.
DISCLAIMER – This article is only meant to provide general information and not legal advice. Since every case and facts are unique and different, readers should not act upon the information contained in this article without seeking advice from an attorney. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship.