Interviewer: Do you see that people are afraid to go to the doctor or were just going to the doctor and they wait too long, and what is too long, if so?
Guy S. DiMartino: There are two reasons that people don't initially go to doctor that I see. Number 1, they don't want to be bothered. For instance, they just got an accident, they're uptight, their car got towed away and the last thing they want to do is they want to go ahead and sit in a waiting room and an emergency room. The second reason why they do that is that, you know, a lot of people think, “I'm going to be okay, I am going to be okay”, they want to will themselves better and they want to believe that everything's going to be okay. It's always best to make contact with a healthcare provider within the first day or two after an accident for a number of reasons. First, you might have something going on that you really need to be diagnosed and treated.
The Timing Between the Accident and the First Time they Go to a Healthcare Provider is One of the Biggest Data Points for the Insurance Companies
I can't tell you how many cases over the years I've represented people or defended the claims where somebody had a brain bleed and, they waited to go to the doctor until they had this tremendous headache. By that time, they had to have surgery to remove the blood from their brain. A brain bleed is something that that can be easily diagnosed with just the CAT scan of the head. You know what I mean. So, there could be something underneath that's going on that needs to be diagnosed. The second reason is the timing between the accident and the first time they touch or go to a healthcare provider is one of the biggest data points for the insurance companies that use claims management software. So, if an insurance company that uses a software program to determine the amount of an injured person's claim, the timing, the amount of hours between the incident and the first time they have seen a doctor, first time they see a doctor is one of the biggest data points.
Waiting Longer Than a Week to See a Doctor May Have Medical and Legal Repercussions for a Personal Injury Claimant
Interviewer: How long is too long for someone?
Guy S. DiMartino: If you start to wait longer than a week, you have a lot of explaining to do as to why you did not get to the doctor. We call this a gap in treatment and gaps in treatment really hurt injured people because what the lawyer on the other side will tell the jury this, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you all have been injured before whether it was playing football or playing golf. What happens when you wake up the next day? You feel like a truck has run you over or you feel sore”. They'll say something along these lines like, “Use your common sense. Do you think if this person was hurt in the accident on May 1st that they wouldn't start feeling pain until May 30th?” So, it's just another hurdle that a car accident victim has to overcome. These cases are all about credibility and the longer you wait the more your credibility goes out of the window because what some cynical jurors saying is, “Oh, first they went to a lawyer. The lawyer told them they better go to a doctor”, or, “Their coworker said, ‘You know something, you should make a claim for that accident', and then, the person went to the doctor”.
Timeframe of Resolution for a Personal Injury Claim in Indiana
Interviewer: How long do these auto accident cases take on average? I mean do most of them go to trial or do most of them settle?
Guy DiMartino: Most cases settle. I would say 9 out of 10 cases settle. If that wasn't the case, the courts are already backed up; you would never get a case to trial. If you were just to cut it down to 7 out of 10, that means you're adding, 20 per cent more car accident cases into the court system and the court system just couldn't handle it. A case can settle in two days. If there's a very small insurance policy and somebody's in a coma in the hospital, the insurance company is going to run over the check. Well, because they want to protect their insured, it's all insurance driven. On the other hand, if somebody has a boatload of insurance, like $10 million and somebody's in a coma, the insurance company is not going to run over a check because there's enough cushion there and there's enough insurance there to protect the person who approaches the insurance. So, these cases can take three months, they can take six months, they can take 3 years, it's all dependent upon when the person is released from medical care. Because you can't really settle the case if there's enough insurance out there until the client knows what's going to happen in the future regarding their medicals treatment.