MD Auto Accidents: When To File A Lawsuit Right Away
UPDATED: February 10, 2020
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When you’re in an auto accident, it’s sometimes difficult to tell whether you should wait and see if your injuries heal or file a lawsuit right away. The truth of the matter is that, while it depends on the facts and circumstances of the case, there are times when filing a lawsuit right away can be beneficial.
When should you immediately file a lawsuit?
That’s the question we asked Doug Stevens, a Maryland attorney who has practiced law for 30 years and whose firm focuses on personal injury and car accident matters in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. His answer was that some cases do need to be filed immediately. He provided the following example:
A good example of that is a case we got last month where a guy had five broken ribs and a collapsed lung and it was very clear from talking to the adverse party that it was going to be a red light/green light case. The police report was devoid of any witnesses and our client was in the hospital. But our client told us that somebody had walked up to his car immediately after the collision and said, ‘Don’t worry, I saw it, you had the green light.’ Unfortunately, a rookie police officer had written the report and there was no mention of any witness in that report. We called the Lieutenant and sure enough, the rookie police officer did have the identity of a witness and we got it by filing suit and issuing a subpoena before the information got discarded.
Justice delayed may be justice denied
Stevens says that testimony is not preserved for trial unless the other side has a chance to appear and cross-examine. Therefore, the only way to preserve the testimony is to take a deposition. However, he also says that some defense attorneys make doing that very difficult. He explained:
Interestingly enough, the defense bar is often very skillful at having a very, very full calendar. So even after you’ve got your suit filed and served, all of a sudden the defense counsel is telling you that he or she has no free time for the deposition of this critical witness for three or four months. Did someone once say that justice delayed is justice denied?
I’m presently dealing with two defense lawyers who are always very busy, one had only one half day free over the coming eleven weeks, and—surprise, surprise—the other lawyer was busy that day. If our witness should die, heaven-forbid, that testimony is gone forever. So, even though I have a perfect recording that establishes our green light, we could lose that testimony.
So the moral to the story, according to Stevens, is to file fast, because even then you may be months from preserving the testimony. However, he explained that sometimes testimony is simply lost and there’s nothing that can be done about it. “We had another case where our police officer witness was shot and killed in the line of duty the day before his deposition. He was silenced forever.”