Filing a Personal Injury Law Suit: What’s the Rush?


When I tell clients that time is of the essence to file a claim, sometimes I get a mixed response.  In all my client interactions, I do my best to talk straight and offer honest insight.  With regard to directing my clients to act fast in a personal injury claim, sometimes my advice seems self-serving or disingenuous.  Below are some real-world examples that illustrate the importance of acting fast in a personal injury case.

Evidence gets destroyed, disappears, and fades away: videos, voice recordings, road debris, physical injuries, memories, medical evidence . . . . Let me explain how and why this evidence can be important and vulnerable.

Let’s start by discussing video evidence.  It is easy to understand why video evidence would be helpful to your case.  For example, an auto accident happens at an intersection with a red-light camera.  The red-light camera may have footage of the accident showing that you were not at fault.  However, these red-light video recording are not kept indefinitely, sometimes only for weeks or months.  Another example is a slip-and-fall case in a store like Walmart. Wal-Mart has CCTV’s all over the place.  It is very likely that if you suffered an accident on Wal-Mart property, there is video footage of that accident.  Again, who knows how long a video like that will stick around?  Another example is police 911 recordings.  911 tapes are not kept forever.  It is important to obtain and preserve as much evidence in your case as possible before it disappears!

Another good example of evidence that fades away is the physical evidence of a car accident.  Insurance companies often sell cars for scrap soon after a total loss.  This means that access to a vehicle involved in an auto accident may be fairly limited.  It is important to photograph the condition of all cars involved in an accident before it is too late.  Another example of physical evidence that tends to fade away with time is road debris.  We have all seen road debris on the side of the road.  Road debris consists of skid marks, broken glass, tire bits, oil or gas . . . .  Through no fault, road debris disappears with time and weather.

Testimonial evidence disappears with time as well. Eyewitnesses move, forget, die, disappear. . . .It is important to interview eye-witness immediately after a car accident while memories are fresh and witness can still be located.  (You would not believe how difficult it is to locate and interview witnesses months or years after an accident).

Another vulnerable piece of evidence is physical medical evidence.  We had a case not too long ago that involved the “pooling of blood” in our client’s leg after an auto accident.  The treating doctor removed the blood with a syringe.  The doctor filled 8 syringes full of blood.  After the doctor finished removing the pooled blood, he took a photograph of the 8 full syringes.  Those pictures were admitted into evidence and helped us win the case.  The lesson here: it is important to preserve everything.

Tractor Trailer Crashes are especially illustrative of the need to act fast. Tractor-trailer companies have “crash teams” that specialize in defending large trucking accidents.  These crash teams investigate tractor-trailer accidents immediately after they happen . . . often within hours of the truck accident.  These teams consist of accident reconstructionists, brake experts, and mechanical engineers.  They photograph the scene, collect and analyze the evidence, and locate and interview witnesses.  Sometimes this process leaves little evidence left at the crash scene.  If you want to get to the crash scene before the tractor-trailer company does, you have to move quickly.

It is impossible to determine how or if time will be important in every personal injury case.  However, it is clear that with time, memories and evidence disappear. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the fault of another, call Cuthbert Law Offices.  For over 30 years, we have been specializing in social security disability, auto accidents, and personal injuries in Virginia.