The days and weeks following a serious injury like a car accident injury can be a confusing time. Since adrenaline and shock can mask symptoms of pain, you may not feel the full effects of your injuries until days or even weeks after the incident. You may decide to delay seeking medical care due to this fact. This delay, unfortunately, can cause complications if you decide to file a legal claim against the individual, group, or company that caused the accident to occur. In a scenario like this, the best thing for you to do would have been to seek medical care immediately following the incident.
Complications may arise in this situation because the date that the accident occured won’t match up with the date that your pain and/or symptoms were discovered. When you “discover” an injury from an accident, the legal term for this is discovery is called “injury discovery”. In most personal injury cases involving immediate injuries, the injury discovery date will match up with the date of the incident, which can be proven by looking at police records. When a judge or jury then looks at that evidence, they’ll naturally be able to assert that the accident caused your injuries directly because the dates will match.
If the dates do not match, however, due to a delay in care or treatment, it can be more complex to prove that the two were directly related. You may have to provide additional evidence to support your claim.
Car accidents are the most common types of incidents where this situation may occur. Here are some other scenarios:
- When you go in for surgery, you expect everything to go as planned. Unfortunately, surgical errors can occur, and you come out of your surgery with more pain than expected. This is considered medical malpractice against your surgeon because their mistake injured you. In this type of situation, any new symptoms or pain may not be immediately obvious due to the nature of your recovery period. Your date of injury discovery may not be the date of your surgery in this situation, and may be a later date. For example, if your surgical wound became infected due to a mistake that was made in the operating room, your date of injury discovery may be on the day that the infection became apparent.
- In long-term care facilities, abuse and neglect are common because of understaffing and overworking. Patients should always receive proper treatment, and when they don’t, there is a risk of injury. In a nursing home neglect case, the date of injury discovery may be the date that a resident was diagnosed with malnutrition or dehydration symptoms or the date of a serious fall.
- Products that you use every day could be unsafe without you even knowing. Similar to the dispute surrounding Roundup Weed Killer, daily products could negatively affect your health, or even injure you, which could be grounds for a personal injury claim. In these type of cases, the date of injury discovery may fall on the day symptoms were first noticed or when a disease diagnosis was made.
Before filing a legal claim in any of these situations, you need to keep in mind West Virginia’s statute of limitations for personal injuries. Your injury discovery date is crucial for both proving that the injury and the incident are related as well as ensuring you can file a claim at all. If your injury discovery date doesn’t fall within the statute of limitations, you will not generally be able to successfully file a personal injury claim.
Statute of Limitations in West Virginia
In West Virginia, you will generally have two years to report injury within the statute of limitations, according to West Virginia Code. This means that you have two years from the discovery of your injury to file a claim against the person who injured you. It’s important to note that this general rule may differ in some cases or in certain situations.
The best way to avoid passing the statute of limitations is to see a doctor as soon as you realize you are injured. This way, you have documentation proving your injury and that it came from a specific accident caused by someone else.
When you’ve discovered an injury after an accident, you’ll want to get medical attention right away so that you can start treatment. You’ll also want to explore your legal options as quickly as possible so that you can receive compensation for any physical or emotional pain that was caused. DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC in Charleston should be your first call. With us on your case, you’ll be able to focus on healing because we’ll be working diligently on the legal side of things. To have us on your side, contact us today.