The Danger of Delaying Pursuit of Your Personal Injury Claim
Recently, two very serious motorcycle accidents occurred in my area. The first resulted in death to a passenger on the cycle and the second to the cyclist himself. In both cases I had some contact from family members and friends concerning my representing the survivors in claims against the wrong doers. The first of these collisions occurred over six months ago. The second, approximately two months ago. Each case involves facts where liability is not entirely clear.
In the first case, the cyclist was drunk and his passenger killed. Friends of the passenger have been urging the family to contact me. To date they not pursued any action on the claim. The cyclist who was drunk is apparently claiming he was run off the road by a city ambulance who was speeding to another accident scene. The ambulance crew was questioned by investigating officers and recalled seeing the cyclist but denied running him off the road. However, the cyclist is adamant that occurred.
In the second case, the cyclist struck road construction equipment left under a bridge alongside the road which was neither marked by hazard signals or barricaded. I am told others complained to the local authorities concerning this equipment before the incident occurred. I am further told the deceased’s family is so grief stricken they do not wish to speak to any accident attorney at the present time, which is understandable.
Unfortunately, with each passing day, these claims get weaker and weaker and the likelihood of justice being served is lessened. Why? These cases are examples of situations where immediate investigative work is needed from an experienced personal injury attorney. In each of these scenarios, the accident scene itself would provide important information concerning who was at fault for the accident.
For example, in the first case, tire marks on the road may provide clues as to whether the ambulance did indeed have some involvement in this case or not. Physical evidence at the scene may also prove valuable. That evidence is now lost. Moreover, witnesses memories of those events have now faded. But even more significant is a legal trap that lay people are not aware of for the most part. Under Wisconsin law, if a person is injured due to the fault of a State, City or County employee, the injured party must file a Notice of Claim against the State, County or City within 120 days of the accident or the party may be prevented from bringing a claim against that governmental agency. Here, if indeed the city ambulance was involved, the deceased’s claim may be in jeopardy because of the time lag.
In the second case, the same holds true. The equipment in question has now been removed. There is no physical evidence left. The police photos of the accident scene are not likely to be sufficient. Moreover, if the equipment belonged to a city crew, the notice requirement discussed above applies. Finally, never doubt how willing some wrongdoers are to alter, hide or destroy valuable evidence knowing they are faced with a large claim.
The lesson is simple. Do not delay contacting counsel to handle your claim. A competent attorney will know how to keep your involvement at a minimum while you grieve. That attorney can conduct the type of investigation needed to make sure your family’s future is protected.