The Types of Personal Injury Cases
Posted On January 24, 2017 by Murphy Law Group in Personal Injury
Dan Murphy of the Massachusetts-based Murphy Law Group speaks with John Maher about the common and rarer types of personal injury, what you need to do after a personal injury to build the best case, the statute of limitations on such suits, and why you need to retain an attorney as soon as possible after an injury.
John Maher: Hi I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Dan Murphy of the Murphy Law Group in North Andover and Boston Massachusetts. And today we’re talking about Types of Personal Injury Cases. Welcome, Dan.
Dan Murphy: Thanks for having me, John.
Common Personal Injuries
John: Sure. So Dan what are some of the most common types of personal injury cases?
Dan: Any time an injury occurs, there’s a possibility that it may result in a personal injury case. You often hear about slip and falls, automobile cases, things that result from those types of situations. But it’s really a wide spectrum of any time an injury occurs. It may occur as a result of, for example, a defective product that you’re handling, or it may result from a spill of a chemical when you’re opening something that you’re not supposed to come in contact with. So there are any number of things that that can cause a personal injury case to ultimately occur. But the very basic premise is that anytime an injury occurs, there may be fault.
John: What are some of maybe the more unusual ones that you’ve seen in terms of how somebody was injured?
Dan: Well, I handled the case several years ago. That was a tragic case as a result of a young man who was told at work to use a torch to open up at the top of an old drum that had been delivered on site by a chemical company. As soon as he hit the top of the drum it exploded, and there were no warnings on the outside of the drum suggesting that this could occur and caused him serious burns on his body. Ultimately that resulted into in a lawsuit against the chemical company.
How Does the Type of Personal Injury Change a Lawsuit?
John: How did these types of personal injury cases differ in terms of how you handle them, whether it’s an auto accident or a slip and fall or a product liability case?
Dan: Well the most important thing is to be diligent from the beginning. And when I say that I mean oftentimes you’re — the injured person isn’t in a position to do very much. If for example they’re being taken away from the scene of an accident in an ambulance.
But the people around them that they may be talking to, family members, friends– whomever they’re closely associated with–should take steps to make sure that information is gathered around the site of the incident. Who was there to witness the incident? Were the police there? Is there a police report? If the car is going to be taken away—[see if there is the] Possibility of taking photos there, or taking photos at the junkyard that the car was taken to, before the car is completely destroyed. If there are skid marks, take photo photographs of the skid marks. The types of things that may be evidence. Ultimately in a lawsuit, if they’re preserved around the time of the incident they’re very helpful.
John: Like the lack of a warning label on that drum that you’re just talking about, that would be the kind of thing. If you could get a photograph of a similar drum that shows that there’s no warning on it that would be helpful?
Dan: Right. I mean with that one, in particular, there were a number of drums that came from the same source, and you were able to look at the photos to see that there were no warnings displayed on those other drums as well.
What to Do After a Personal Injury?
John: Right. What should someone do or perhaps not do after they’re injured?
Dan: The one thing that you don’t want to do is, as an example again using a car accident as an example: If you were in a car accident and your car was hit by another car, for example, and the insurance company for the person that hit you contacted you–it would be unwise for you to start having direct conversations with that insurance company, where you may be making statements that may be used against you, down the road in a potential litigation. You should always do what you need to do in terms of covering yourself with your own insurance company.
You need to do obviously what is necessary for you to do, for proper medical care. But you should seek legal guidance as soon as possible, and a lawyer would tell you, “Whatever you do talk to me, make statements to me. But don’t make any statements to any other third parties, until such time as we’re ready for you to make such a statement.”
John: If you do get that call from that other insurance company it’s okay to just say, “I’m not going to answer any of your questions, and I’ll have my lawyer contact you.” Or something like that?
Dan: You can very politely say that, “you’re not in a position to discuss what occurred with them.” If you’ve already retained counsel you can refer them to your counsel. If you haven’t retained counsel, just very politely take their telephone number and say that your counsel will get back to them once you’ve had an opportunity to retain counsel.”
Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
John: How much time do I have after I’ve been injured to bring a case against a party that’s caused me an injury? Is there a statute of limitations?
Dan: In Massachusetts the statute of limitations is three years. So you have three years from the time that the incident occurred to actually bring the action. But that doesn’t mean that you should sit on your hands and wait for three years and wait for things to develop. Clearly, the earlier that you’re able to take action to preserve evidence and to start putting things together and put the other side on notice–so, that they can put their insurance company on notice–the better off you’re going to be.
John: What about the case where, I might not know immediately after I’ve been injured what the long term consequences of that injury will be. Should I go ahead and bring the case right away or is it is it better to sort of wait and see how much those medical bills are going to stack up or something like that?
Dan: That’s a very good question. And that’s why you want to have counsel involved from the beginning. If you have counsel involved in the beginning, your counsel will be able to walk you through those steps, and your counsel– a good counsel–is going to tell you, “Your biggest job is to get better. Let me worry about the timing of bringing an action. The timing of making a demand. “And so forth.
Typically what would occur in a situation like that, if the client was dealing with our office, is that we would we would put the other side on notice that there was a potential cause of action. We would tell the other side where we were in terms of medical treatment, and if the long-term prognosis had yet to be determined, we would continue to advise the other side and their insurance company about how we’re moving forward and how things are progressing. We would collect all the medicals along the line, while the injured person is getting better, and at some point in time we would have the ability to then make a demand. Typically you would make a demand before you put the case into a suit.
John: Okay, all right that’s great information Thanks again for speaking with me today Dan. And for more information about the Murphy Law Group visit the firm’s web site at www.mlgllc.com or call 978-686-3200.