All Questions

May 27, 2022 | Gary Burger

When Is it Too Late to Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident?

When is it too late to get a lawyer for a car accident in St. Louis? When a lot of our clients first come to us, they tell us that they never imagined they'd have to hire a car accident lawyer. We see a lot of cases where people wait to contact an attorney because they didn't believe their injuries were as significant as they turned out to be, or because they thought the insurance company was going to be fair, only to see them try to devalue the claim. When they call us, they often ask if it's too late to hire a car accident lawyer in St. Louis and get the full compensation they deserve. The answer is: it's almost never too late to hire an attorney in a personal injury case. Our consultation and initial investigation are free, so if you have any doubts or questions about your claim or the claim process in general, reach out to us at (314) 500-HURT or fill out our online form. We serve the injured and vulnerable in St. Louis and throughout Missouri.

If you were injured in a car accident, see how much your claim may be worth with our free personal injury calculator.

When Is it Too Late to Get a Lawyer For a Car Accident in St. Louis?

The short answer is never, but in truth there are two instances where it might be too late for you to retain a St. Louis car accident lawyer's services:

The Statute of Limitations Has Passed

Missouri Revised Statute §516.120 states that any personal injury claim must be filed within five years after the date of the accident. There are two important exceptions:

  1. If you were under the age of 21 or "mentally incapacitated" when the injury occurred, you have five years from the day you turn 21 or the day your disability ends to file a claim, according to Missouri Revised Statute §516.170.
  2. If the person you are making a claim against is a resident of Missouri but leaves the state for a period of time, their time out of state does not count against the five years, according Missouri Revised Statute §516.200.

If you're worried that the statute of limitations has passed, call a St. Louis car accident lawyer at Burger Law to discuss your case.

You've Already Accepted an Insurance Company's Offer

Even if the statute of limitations hasn't passed, it may be too late to hire a lawyer if you've already cashed the insurance check, if you signed a contract agreeing to it, or if a judge or jury ruled against you in court. This is known as a legal concept called res judicata. Again, there are exceptions:

  • You can file a lawsuit for bad faith if the insurance company was coercive in getting you to settle.
  • You can sue another person than the person you settled with. If you got a policy limits settlement from the at-fault driver's insurance company, but later learn that a defective vehicle component contributed to the accident, you can sue the manufacturer, car dealer or a mechanic for the remainder of your damages.

Why You Should Hire a Car Accident Lawyer Late in your Case

A lawyer will help you deal with the insurance company and combat their tricks. For example, if you were not aware of how serious your injuries were at first, they may try to claim that your injuries were not caused by the accident. We'll use medical records and our medical expertise to show exactly how your car accident caused your injuries. Or, they might be dragging your case out and stalling. Hiring a St. Louis car accident lawyer will let the insurance company know you're serious and that you won't back down until you get the complete compensation you deserve.

It's also never too late to hire a new car accident lawyer if you're not happy with the results your current attorney in St. Louis is getting you.

St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers | Burger Law

When you call us we'll be honest with you about whether or not we can add value to your claim. While having a lawyer on your side is the best idea in most car accident claims, the choice of that lawyer is crucial. At Burger Law, we have over 30 years of experience fighting hard for our clients, taking on the tough cases, standing up to insurance companies and getting the injured in St. Louis and throughout Missouri maximum compensation for their injuries. To date, we have won over $175 million in verdicts and settlements. Call a Burger Law car accident lawyer in St. Louis today at (314) 500-HURT or contact us online.