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What Mistakes Do Injured People Commonly Make That Can Affect Their Case?

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for general negligence cases in Indiana is two years, and letting that expire before you pursue your case would be an unfortunate error. The issue is whether it's a discovery statute – whether the statute starts to run when you learn that the person was negligent, or whether it's an occurrence-based statute. For trip and fall, slip and falls, car accident cases, its two years. For medical malpractice cases, it is a two-year occurrence-based statute. Even if you find out about the potential malpractice suit one month before that two years is up, you only have those two years from the occurrence – when you find out doesn't matter.

If you are injured by a governmental agency – maybe you're driving your car, and you're run into by a parks and recreation vehicle, or somebody who is plowing for the State of Indiana  doesn't see you and just plows into you – then you have a two-year statute of limitations. In this type of situation, you also have to give the agency specific notice of the claim within six months or nine months, depending upon the agency. If you don't give this specific notice to the agency, then you can't go ahead with your claim. Despite the two-year statute of limitations, if you don't follow the notice requirements of the Indiana Tort Claims Act, then you are out of luck!

After An Injury, Should I Go See a Doctor or Should I Contact an Attorney?

You need to get checked out medically first. You need to go either to the hospital, urgent care center or your family doctor to get checked out. There are two reasons for that:

  • You might have something brewing underneath the surface that you just don't know about which can cause some serious injury.
  • If you're ever going to make a claim for injuries, the insurance companies use computer software to determine the amount of the claim and medical reports following the incident is one of the data points that they use.

Whether you went to the emergency room or the urgent care center that same day or within two days of the accident, as long as you make contact with a health care provider within the first 48 hours, it gives you a stronger claim than if you wait a week or two and then go to a physical therapist. It's just the way the computer program works.

Calling a lawyer before you go to a doctor just doesn't sound right with jurors. If it comes out, they are just going to think something's hinky with that. If you're injured, you want to take care of yourself, so as a general rule I really don't care to take clients that are calling me from the accident scene. They are better off calling the billboard lawyers instead of me because I myself have an issue with that kind of approach.

Do People Make a Lot of Mistakes Where they Gain Weight or they Procrastinate?

Yes! An initial delay in getting treatment is really hard to overcome and this is the reason why. The most important thing in all these cases is the credibility of the injured person, and insurance companies like to frame the injured person as somebody who's just out to get something for nothing and is exaggerating their complaints. The more things that the insurance company or their lawyers can do to beat up on the credibility of the injured person, the better it is for the insurance company. So if you wait two weeks before you see any type of doctor or make any type of complaint, the first inference is going to be that they hired a lawyer before they went to a doctor.

The lawyer is telling you to do this, so you're doing this because you're a litigious person and you want something for nothing. The second thing that is impossible to overcome is the defense lawyer getting in front of the jury and saying, “Ladies and gentleman of the jury, we have all been hurt before, whether you are playing football, whether you were playing tag or whether you were lifting your grand kids, we all know that if you hurt yourself because you have overdone it or because of some type of injury, you're going to be sore the next day or couple of days and if you really had a problem, you would have seen a doctor within the first few days after the accident.”

So then the injured person has to get up and say, “Well I thought I was going to be okay but I wasn't okay, then I asked some friends what doctor I should go to, and then I called the doctor I had to wait another three days to get in.” The more things the injured person has to do to explain away their injury or explain circumstances away, the more it impacts their credibility and it works in the insurance company's favor. So that's the first gap in treatment or delay in treatment; even worse for folks is when they are in the middle of treatment and the doctor makes treatment recommendations and they don't follow through with those treatment recommendations.

Then you hear the story, “Well Mr. Jones is saying that he's been injured in an accident, he went to the doctor, the doctor told him he needed to go to the physical therapist three times a week, but he decided that he didn't want to go to the physical therapist three times a week, yet he's coming here and asking you to give him money even though he didn't follow his doctor's advice – and because he didn't follow his doctor's advice, that's why he's not getting better.” They get you coming and they get you going and those are the mistakes that people make. Those are the things that cost people who are involved in accidents thousands of dollars. That's the stuff that I have been preaching for over 15 years and people still don't listen because they think they know better.

For more information on Statute of Limitations, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you're seeking by calling Guy DiMartino Law at (219) 690-8897 today.